|Mephisto, Then and Now|
The British Army was the first to use tanks, deploying them at the Battle of the Somme in 1916. The Allied forces used tanks in even larger numbers in 1917. The potential of this new weapon was realized perhaps too late by the German Army. In late 1917 the Germans produced 20 A7V Sturmpanzerwagens, 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 A7Vs were involved in the first tank-versus-tank action.
The A7V Sturmpanzerwagen known as Mephisto (shown above) was immobilized 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 remained at the Queensland Museum for 70 years. After a 2-year loan spell at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, Mephisto is at present in the process of being returned to Brisbane.* Mephisto remains the sole surviving A7V tank in the world.
Sources: Queensland Museum and Reader Charles Bogart
* Clarification added 2 December 2017