The tank-man Bumbleth!

One man tank, photo from War trophies Annex building, Ottawa, 1920s (LAC photo)

One man tank, photo from War trophies Annex building, Ottawa, 1920s (LAC photo)

These bizarre pieces of equipment were sometimes called one-man tanks, or mobile personnel shields. They are described in the war trophies catalogs as German but the above model is French (despite the Mauser rifle).  The inspiration for this came from Col. Jean Baptiste Eugène Estienne, The French “father of tanks” who was searching for solutions to overcome devastating German MG and rifle fire.  Both types shown above and below are also found today in Les Invalides’ Army Museum collection in Paris. These were likely gifts to Canada from the French government (along with other material on this website).  These artifacts, in the Public Archives’ Sussex annex building appear to have not survived.  Operationally, they weren’t a great success. They were cumbersome, conspicuous, must have been nearly impossible to navigate through a wire-strewn, pockmarked landscape, and must have been hard to aim out of.  It would also seem like there would be no real way to withdraw in the one-man tank without exposing the soldier to enemy fire.

Yikes! This is the view looking in the shield on display at Les Invalides, Paris. (public domain)

Yikes! This is the view looking forward in the compartment of the shield on display at Les Invalides, Paris. (public domain)

Below there is a larger, up-gunned type that was like a mobile pillbox.  It seems more likely that this may be German, as it appears to be armed with an MG08, and the rifles do not appear to be British or French.

This appears to have been armed with a Heavy MG and had two rifle slits (LAC Photo)

This appears to have been armed with a Heavy MG and had two rifle slits (LAC Photo)

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