Last week I started rambling on about a 3.7" howitzer, and gave some of the technical details, but what about its service life?
Well first there's a bit of an oddity to think about. I dashed it off in a amendment on the bottom of last weeks article. One of the first two Medium MKI tanks delivered to the army in 1923 was a CS tank armed with the MK I 3.7" howitzer. But only one of these guns was ever made, equally the final trials report came out in 1931 that raised some questions. To add to my confusion a 1925 organisation issued by the War Office required every tank battalion to have a battery of three close support tanks.
In hindsight its quite obvious, there just wasn't any money for it. Plus with no chance of a major war in Europe there wasn't seen to be a need for it. Of course that had a knock on effect, namely during exercises three Vickers Mediums of each battalion would have their guns and mounts painted white, and the huge letters CS applied to their turrets.
The story of tanks in South Africa between the wars is a very short one. First you have His Majesties Landship Union, a Medium MK A Whippet that was used mainly as a propaganda tool, although during strikes in 1922 it was used to support the Government forces. Its début was a bit dismal and it got bogged down on a street. While dismounted its driver was killed by a sniper.
|Medium MK IA "T14". I believe its the only Vickers Medium CS tank in the world. This picture was taken before restoration.|
In the retreat to El Alamein, the Commanding Officer of the squadron spotted some suspicious vehicles moving behind him. He drew his tanks up in a semi-circle pointing towards the possible enemy. While he called it in to his Regimental Command, the gunners probed the horizon for any clue as to what was below the dust cloud. This would have looked like the barrels were twitching, as if sniffing the air. Then permission was given to open fire.
|Close up of the business end of a A9 CS tank.|