Fray Bentos

Fray Bentos

 


 

On August 22, 1917, a British tank got stuck in mud, near Pondfarm in St. Julian. The crew was there for 72 hours, but survived. One hundred years later, Poelcapelle 1917 Association and the Pond Farm decided to commemorate this. Where we made trips for the Sponsors with the tank on 22, 23 and 24 August 2017. Among others, the relatives of the then section commander were present.

During the Third Battle of Ypres, the British hoped to force a breakthrough in the front line by using a new invention, namely tanks. Only those steel pilots proved to be too bulky and too heavy to have much chance of success. When the Germans decided to blow large holes in the roads with explosives, the British were forced to send their iron samples into the fields, which led to a fiasco.

"One by one the tanks got stuck and they were switched off. Only one of the eight tanks reached the village square of Poelkapelle, where he remained until long after the First World War. Another specimen hopelessly got stuck in the mud at 'Hill 35' in Sint-Juliaan, along the current Hazeweidestraat, near the Pond Farm ", says Stijn Butaye, who has set up a private museum in the current Pondfarm, where he is grown up.

 

Exact 100 years ago:

"The bottom plate of the Fray Bentos (named after a brand of preserves, ed.) Was far too low to drive over the bumpy terrain and the tracks had no grip anymore. The nine-headed crew also could not go any further, because they were shot at by both the Germans and the Allies. They wanted to prevent the colossus from falling into the hands of the enemy. They were stuck in the no man's land for no less than 72 hours. One of them was shot, but the rest managed to survive without too many injuries, surviving on the water from the radiator. It was only in the middle of the third night that they managed to escape and to find the relative safety of the British trenches. "The story of the Fray Bentos was filmed in 2014 and in the spring in Zonnebeke 'De Laatste Braedy', the comic strip presented by Ivan Petrus Adriaenssens, in which the tank is central.

"On August 22 it is exactly 100 years ago and from the tank comité came the idea to set up a memorial event around it."

Fray Bentos

Relatives invited:

Johan Vanbeselaere, who had been behind the idea to build a Mark IV tank from the First World War for years, is one of the driving forces of the '72 hours of Fray Bentos'. "The tank that we have replicated ourselves has cost a lot of money, which was gathered thanks to sponsors, among other things. To thank them we came up with the idea to let them ride our replica on 22, 23 and 24 August on the terrain where the Fray Bentos ever stranded. Those who had sponsored 50 euros, were allowed to board and who had donated 250 euros, could sit behind the wheel themselves. We were able to make contact with some relatives of the occupants and of course we have invited them. Including the (grand) grandchildren of the then section commander, Donald Richardson, have already pledged. Out of respect for the fallen, we do not want to make a Flemish fairground and we do not provide drinks and food stalls, but spectators will be welcome. "

Because the tank is not completely finished, the people of the Poelcapelle 2017 Association are still looking for additional funds. If you want to contribute a piece of metal, you can find more information on the Facebook page
Tank Poelkapelle

 

Christophe Deconinck