The Tanks that Broke the Ranks

Title:
The Tanks that Broke the Ranks
Category:
NFSA ID:
695346
Year:
1916
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Written and composed by English music hall writers Harry Castling and Harry Carlton,The Tanks that Broke the Ranks, was a popular music hall song celebrating the first use of tanks on the battlefield. The sheet music was released in December 1916, just three months after the first use of tanks in war by the British, during the Battle of the Somme.

Although both sides regarded the tanks with interest and awe when first deployed, their success was mixed. Of the 49 tanks shipped to the Somme, only nine made it across ‘no man's land’ to the German lines.

The song references many prominent German military leaders of the day, including Kaiser Wilhelm, Alfred von Tirpitz, Paul von Hindenburg and Prince Wilhelm. It was very popular in music halls in 1917. This recording was sung by internationally acclaimed Australian performer and recording artist Peter Dawson under the pseudonym ‘Will Strong,’ which he used for music hall recordings.

 

The Tanks that Broke the Ranks - lyrics 

In No Man's Land one early morn at sixty in the shade 

From out the British lines there came the famous Tank Brigade  

The Huns began to strafe 'em, couldn't make it out at all  

Especially when the tanks began the Caterpillar crawl. 

And the tanks went on, and they strolled along with an independent air  

And their guns began to blare, and the Huns began to swear  

For they pulled the trees up by the roots, and they made the Huns look like galoots  

Did the tanks that broke the ranks out in Picardy. 

The Huns peeped through their trenches, for they couldn't understand.  

They cried "Here comes the British Navy, sailing on the land!"  

The Kaiser saw them also and, as through the trench he ran,  

He shouted out to Tirpitz "Hush! Here comes the bogey man!" 

And the tanks went on, and they strolled along with an independent air  

Said the Huns, "It isn't fair! You're not fighting on the square!"  

At the fortress then they made a call and started walking through the wall  

Did the tanks that broke the ranks out in Picardy. 

When Hindenburg first saw a tank he chaffed and made a fuss.  

He said to Little Willie "It's a motor omnibus!"  

Then Little Willie saw it and he made a rude remark  

Said he, "It's not a 'bus at all - it's Noah inside his Ark!" 

And the tanks went on, and they strolled along with an independent air  

And a German colonel there nearly lost his ginger hair  

From inside the tank there came a claw, and it pulled him through the early door  

And they took him for a joy-ride round Picardy. 

And they strolled along to the Bois Boulong with an independent air,  

Up and down each thoroughfare, and they didn't seem to care;  

Then the little bantam driver cried to all the Tommies,  

"Jump inside and it's tuppence all the way from here to Berlin".

Performer:
Peter Dawson
Composers:
Harry Castling and Harry Carlton
Recording company:
Zonophone, UK