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The First World War represents one of the bloodiest conflicts in the history of humankind. The war witnessed the mechanisation of armed forces across the world. All sides raced to develop new weaponry that would bring some advantage over their opponents, especially in the landlocked stalemates in the trenches of the Western Front. In 1916 the British Army deployed the first tanks at the battle of the Somme. The allied forces continued to use tanks in larger numbers in 1917. The potential of this new weapon was realised perhaps too late by the German Army.
In late 1917 the German Army produced 20 A7V Sturmpanzerwagen’s which were deployed in combat the following year. Crewed with 18 men, the cumbersome war machines clambered into action in April 1918. The German tanks were engaged in actions at such places as Villers-Bretonneux, a small French village that was recaptured by Australian soldiers at the cost of 1,200 lives. The A7V’s were involved in the first tank versus tank action.
The A7V Sturmpanzerwagen known as Mephisto was immobilised in an area close to Villers-Bretonneux called Monument Wood. In July 1918 a detachment of soldiers from the 26th Battalion, mainly comprised of Queenslanders, helped recover the abandoned tank and drag it back to the allied lines. It was sent to Australia as a war trophy, arriving at Norman Wharf in June 1919 where it was towed by two Brisbane City Council steamrollers to the Queensland Museum, then located in Fortitude Valley. It remains the sole surviving A7V tank in the world
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