Brechin Tank Bank
A dismally wet Tuesday in Brechin saw the visit of Julian. The tank had arrived in the city by rail from Forfar in the early morning of 24 September 1918, moving out of Brechin station at 9:00 am. Undeterred by the weather, a large crowd had gathered and watched with great interest as he left the station for his stance at St Ninian’s Square. It was only a short journey to the tank’s stance and many onlookers felt disappointed to not have seen more of the tank in action, hinting that several of the old buildings in the city may have benefitted from being demolished by Julian. Because of the tank’s bulk, the Town Council had decided that the streets of the ancient city were too deep and narrow to allow the tank to travel safely into the centre.
A detachment of local 1/5th Black Watch Volunteers, along with the burgh police force bolstered by special constable volunteers formed the tank’s guard of honour, escorting Julian to his resting place for the remainder of his stay. Lord Strathclyde had been invited to Brechin to deliver the opening address, having been attending a gathering of farmers at the Mart that noon. By 2:30 pm a crowd had gathered at St Ninian’s Square, the weather having improved enough for start of the opening ceremony. Lord Strathclyde was accompanied on the roof of Julian by Provost George Henderson, Bailie James Addison and Bailie Alexander Stewart; the Reverend Dr. Walter William Coats; Miss McNab of Keithock, Lady Commandant of the Red Cross; and Mr Shaw Adamson of Careston.
Following Lord Strathclyde’s address, singing commenced with “God Save the King” being called for. Despite the local School Board running singing classes and the city’s band’s efforts to further Brechin’s interest in music, it was noted that the response was feeble, with one local commentator adding: “They cannot sing for nuts”. In addition to Brechin’s savings banks and the Tank Office, the Local Food Control Office at the corner of St Ninian’s Square had been placed at the disposal of the War Savings Committee, where Mr J C Robertson, postmaster, and his staff had opened a branch Post Office for the duration of the day. From 9:45 am War Bonds and War Savings Certificates were issued to the public, which were later stamped by staff at the tank. Purchasers were then presented with a voucher entering them into the day’s prize draw.
As a result of Julian’s visit to Brechin, investments totalling £47,334.19s were accumulated, for the most part through trade at the banks. Collections made at the Tank Office in the square raised over £3,000 coming mainly from small cash contributions. Including the sums raised since Tank Week in February, Brechin’s sales of War Bonds reached £136,882.10s. and War Savings Certificates totalled £33,343.18s.6d. This equated to approximately £20 per head of the population for the city.
Julian 113 Scottish Tank Bank tour
Kirkcaldy Monday 16th September 1918
Cupar Tuesday 17th September 1918
Blairgowrie 18th September 1918
Coupar-Angus Thursday 19th September 1918
Kirriemuir Friday 20th September 1918
Arbroath Saturday 21st September 1918
Forfar Monday 23rd September 1918
Brechin Tuesday 24th September 1918
Montrose 25th September 1918
The British Government needed to raise money to pay for the war effort. The tank was a new technology, and most of the population had not seen one. The War Savings Committee decided that six Mk.IV tanks would tour the country starting in December 1917 and throughout 1918 acting as ‘Tank Banks’ during celebrations known as ‘Tank Week.’ Companies and members of the public would be able to buy National War Bonds and War Savings Certificates from the cashier inside the door of the tank sponson. There were 20 shillings to the British Pound. For every 15s 6d (15 shillings and 6 pence: the minimum investment) invested in a War Savings Certificate, after five years, the government would pay back 20 shillings, an increase of 4s 6d (4 shillings and 6 pence). That is a 22.5% return. This was an attractive rate of return so many people and pension companies like the Provincial invested a lot of capital into War Savings Certificates and War Bonds (minimum investment £5). The War Bonds were sold to private investors in 1917 with the advertisement: “If you cannot fight, you can help your country by investing all you can in 5 per cent Exchequer Bonds … Unlike the soldier, the investor runs no risk.”
The six Mk.IV tanks were 113 Julian 4005, 119 Ole Bill, 130 Nelson, 137 Drake, 138 Iron Ration 4034, 141 Egbert and 142 also sometimes called Egbert although it never bore that name. Tank 141 Egbert was the only tank that had actually seen service in France. Other tanks were used. The top 256 fundraising towns and cities were offered a WW1 presentation tank as a thank you. Tanks Encyclopedia writer and researcher Craig Moore has researched and collected photographs of the Tank Week tank visits. If you find more photographs that are not in this collection, please send them to [email protected]