Andrew McEwen


The Battle of Flers-Courcelette is chiefly remembered as the combat introduction of tanks. The prevailing historiography maligns their performance as a lacklustre debut of a weapon which held so much promise for offensive warfare. However, unit war diaries and individual accounts of the battle suggest that the tank assaults of 15 September 1916 were far from total failures. This paper thus re-examines the role of tanks in the battle from the perspective of Canadian, British and New Zealand infantry. It finds that, rather than disappointing Allied combatants, the tanks largely lived up to their intended role of infantry support.