Battle of Cambrai Panoramas

From the Archives

17th April 2017

These three panoramas would have been used by tank crews taking part in the Battle of Cambrai and are an important example of Archive’s latest digitisation phase. Currently in the process of scanning our large collection of First World War maps, this important task helps preserve the original documents and increase public accessibility to our collection.

Cambrai PanoramaThis scanned image is a copy of the three views produced by the Tank Corps HQ Intelligence Section before the first day of the Battle of Cambrai, 20th November 1917. The original sketches would have been handed out to Tank Corps Officers in the days leading up to the attack. The top panorama marks multiple strategic locations, including the important German strong point at Flesquieres; where forty tanks were knocked out by skilled German anti-tank gunnery. Of particular interest is the bottom image, showing eight labelled Church spires in close proximity to the battlefield. It was hoped that officers could use these landmarks to help orientate their tanks in the heat of battle.

Later this year, the Royal Tank Regiment and The Tank Museum will mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Cambrai (20th November 1917 – 7th December 1917). During the first day, nine tank battalions, supported by infantry, cavalry, artillery and aircraft attacked the German Hindenburg system which lay in front of the important transport hub of Cambrai. Although initial gains were made, and bells were rung in joy back home, the German’s regrouped and launched a counter-attack ten days later regaining much of what was lost, with the British retaining the captured village of Flesquieres.