Matilda II tanks at the Royal Pavilion, c1941

This photograph shows two tanks in front of the India Gate in the grounds of the Royal Pavilion. It was taken by a newspaper during what is believed to be a fundraising event in around 1941.

What can we see?

Tanks

The tanks in the photograph are both of the Matilda Mk III Infantry Tank Mk IIA* model. This model was part of a series of tanks collectively known as Matilda II.

The Matilda II was designed in 1937 to replace the much cheaper and earlier A11 Matilda, Infantry Tank Mk I. The first order of 140 Matilda II where placed in June 1938 at the Vulcan Foundry at Newton-le-Willows in Cheshire.

Vehicle specification

The Matilda Mk III Infantry Tank Mk IIA*carried a crew of four, with a driver situated in the hull, and a tank commander, gunner and loader who where inside the turret.

The Matilda Mk III Infantry Tank Mk IIA*was armed with a 2-pounder gun and had a secondary armament with a 7.92mm Besa machine gun in a coaxial mount. It was powered by two 7 litre Leyland diesel engines, giving it a top speed of 15 to 16mph.

Uniform

The soldier on the left is wearing a black two piece working dress suit. These had been introduced in 1935 specifically for wear by crewed members of the Royal Tank Corps (which in 1939 had been renamed the Royal Tank Regiment).

Above this he wears 1937 Pattern Web Equipment, the load carrying equipment used by British soldiers at this time. He wears this in a configuration for personnel armed only with a pistol.

On his head he wears a black beret adopted by the Royal Tank Corps for wear in 1924 to replace the unsuitable service dress cap worn at the time. His hands are in gauntlets and on his feet are gum boots.

Author: Charles Paddick, Collections Assistant