Frot-Laffly landship | 28 Mar 1915

Time for trials of another landship. This one is different, though. This one actually looks like a tank. What’s more, it’s French.

Stag on!

But before we have to go and say nice things about the French, let’s have a funny story from Private Simpson, who’s recently joined a Yorkshire Territorial Army battalion. He’s still getting used to the way things work in the Army, though.

As we got our khaki, we became available for guard duties outside our billets. I did one outside the Beechwood Hotel, and a few days later I was detailed for another one. We were only supposed to have one guard duty a week, so I saw the sergeant-major and told him I’d already done one. He said “And you’ve been selected again?.” “Yes, sir”, I said. “Well, then you must be extra good! Do this one, and I’ll see that you get another!” That was the beginning and the end of complaining in the Army for me.

If it had been a guard on the big house in Cold Bath Road I wouldn’t have complained. The house was used for isolating new recruits who were suffering from scabies. An old lady in a very large house opposite used to send a servant to a fish and chip shop every night for four fish suppers for the men. On Sundays when the shop was closed she sent sandwiches, and often there was a brand new pair of socks for each man. No, we didn’t mind a bit doing that guard!

They’ve only recently been issued with their uniforms, after months of drilling in civvies. Naturally, priority for clobber goes to men going overseas.

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This is from a few days ago, but I've held it until now.  You don't get these adverts in the national press any more!
This is from a few days ago, but I’ve held it until now. You don’t get these adverts in the national press any more!

Frot-Laffly landship

I’ve always found it very interesting that the damn thing actually looks like a tank. Ernest Swinton might have got there by now with the proper patronage. As it is, the Landships Committee is still froo-frooing around with bridging machines. On the other hand, this is slightly simplistic – they’re heading quite quickly towards using caterpillar tracks. By contrast, the Frot-Laffly landship is a “big wheel” design. This is what it looks like.

We're still about six months away from the construction of Little Willie and Mother.
We’re still about six months away from the construction of Little Willie and Mother.

It should be mentioned that the gun ports were drawn onto the prototype later for propaganda purposes. However, the final model was always intended to have them. The Frot-Laffly landship does succeed in climbing a slope and in flicking barbed wire aside without problems, but the big wheels are a major concern. The results go off for analysis. More soon!

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Further Reading

I have a Twitter account, @makersley, which you can follow to be notified of updates and get all my retweets of weird and wonderful First World War things.

The Daily Telegraph is republishing its archives from the war day-by-day. Worth a look. I’m reading the paper every day, and it’s where the content for Our Advertising Feature comes from.

(If you find the olde-tyme style difficult to get along with, have a look at this reading guide.)

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