Thrilling and Awe-Inspiring Battle. (From a Special Correspondent. )
The most thrilling battle so far staged in connection with the Aldershot Command manoevres took place this morning, It was a case of tanks versus tanks and the monsters attacked each other in a way which was awe-inspiring.
Over 30 of them were in action. They rushed at each other at a speed which was totally out of keeping with their massive bulk. Collisions were avoided miraculously, and the noise of the revolving caterpillar tracks, coupled with the explosions of three-pounder blank shells at close range, was deafening.
The encounter was as unexpected as it was successful. A number of tanks, belonging to the defending Lastland Army, were snugly concealed in some trees at Camp Hill, when a company of Westland tanks appeared from the right flank to make a break through Easland’s defence line.
Without hesitation Eastland's land cruisers rushed to forestall the attack. In a few moments the two armoured forces were rattling and snorting round each other in close contact, with their guns in full play at point blank range.
Troops scattered to right and left in order to leave the huge machines sufficient ground in which to twist and turn, and umpires, with flags, dashed at considerable risk, into the iron circle to indicate the machines that had been put out of action.
At the end of half an hour's fighting it was estimated that the attackers had lost 16 tanks and the defenders 12.
A number of stage effects lent realism to the warfare apart from the activity of the tanks, smoke bombs were also used to give the impression of artillery shelling high ground from Camp Hill. Infantry moved forward in extended order over the open ground, vicious machine guns scattered thousands of rounds of ammunition, while fighting 'planes swooped down and added their contribution to the pandemonium.
The infantrymen were obviously enthralled by the movements of the contending tanks. They forgot that they themselves had been fighting almost continuously for t24 hours, and friend and foe alike rested on his rifle and warched the petrol-driven fighters with the keenest interest.
For all the troops there was a happy sequel. The development of the scheme materialised so rapidly that the operation terminated some hours before scheduled time. It had been particularly interesting throughout, and the 1st Division troops engaged tackled it with zest and intelligence.
The 3rd Infantry Brigade KOSB, Royal Sussex, Yorks and Lanes, and Gordon Highlanders formed the Eastland army, and the remainder of the Division the 1st Guards Brigade and 2nd Infantry BrigadeEast Yorks, KSLI., Seaforths, and Royal Ulster Rifles represented the attacking Westland forces.
There will be a further lull in the Sussex warfare until Thursday, when the 1st and 2nd Divisions will be engaged in their respective areas in day and night actions. Then the troops will prepare in earnest for the inter divisional struggle that will begin on Monday, and last four days.
Aberdeen Press and Journal, 12 September 1928
Contributed by Malcolm Davison.
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