Tanks were the so-called ‘wonder weapon’ of the First World War. Tanks were first used in a military conflict at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette in September 1916. The public was captivated by the gliding goliaths of warfare and the National War Savings Committee strategically used this fascination to sell War Bonds and War Savings Certificates to raise funds for the war effort.
Touring tanks were displayed in towns and cities all over the country for up to a week at a time, an event which became aptly known as ‘tank week’. The crowds that thronged to catch a glimpse of the tank and its accompanying cohort of soldiers and dignitaries were encouraged to buy War Bonds and War Savings Certificates.
Six tanks toured the country; Julian, Old Bill, Nelson, Drake, Egbert and Iron Ration.
Tanks continued to be used as displays after the war. From 1919 towns all over the country were presented with a tank in acknowledgement of their efforts to raise funds via the sale of National War Bonds.
Hemel Hempstead received its tank on the 21st of February 1920. Positioned close to Heath Park Hotel in Boxmoor, it became a local landmark, both prized and derided by the local community.