Spotlight On: Tanks

War Office: Tanks manual, 1918 (WO 158/832)

Read video transcript

We hope you enjoyed watching our Education Service video with collections expert Will Butler looking at our War Office series. This video focuses on a manual from August 1918 about the role of tanks in warfare. It helps explore the impact of this technology during the First World War.

Download Spotlight On: Tanks Resource Pack

Cover of a booklet with the title 'Tanks and their employment in co-operation with other arms'.

Employment of tanks, 1916-18. Catalogue Ref: WO 158/832

Watch the video then try and answer the following questions:

  • What was the War Office?
  • When was it created?
  • What type of sources can be found in the War Office collection?
  • What does this reveal about the range of material available?
  • What is the date of the document examined in the video?
  • What does the earlier correspondence in the file suggest about the document examined?
  • From looking at the cover of the document, why do you think the document says it is for ‘For Official use only’?
  • Who issued the document?
  • Can you explain the purpose of the document?
  • Why does the document say on its cover that is ‘ To supersede….S.164…S.S..204…S.S.135’
  • What insight, according to the video, does the document reveal about military views on:
    • The use of tanks on the battlefield
    • How they should be used by the military in an offensive
    • The impact of tanks on the enemy?
  • Find out about the use of tanks at: Battle of Flers-Courcelette (15th September 1916); Battle of Cambrai (1917), the first large scale use of tanks. For more information on the use of tanks in the First World War see the Imperial War Museum
  • Use The National Archives research guides to find records on the First World War.

Related Resources

Connections to Curriculum

Key stage 4

  • AQA GCSE History
    • Conflict and tension: the First World War, 1894–1918: Military developments in 1918 and their contribution to Germany’s defeat: the evolution of tactics and technology.

Key stage 5

  • Edexcel GCE History
    • The British experience of warfare, c1790–1918: Western Front: the use of new fighting techniques and new technology.
  • OCR GCE History
    • The Changing Nature of Warfare 1792–1945: The impact of technological change