Replica tank from Spielberg's War Horse by Cenotaph to mark 100-year-old battle

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A replica First World War tank used in Steven Spielberg's film War Horse took up a prominent position by the Cenotaph, as the Royal Tank Regiment marked the centenary of the Battle of Cambrai.

During the First World War, 476 British Mark IV tanks broke spectacularly through enemy lines in Cambrai, north-eastern France, during a major offensive which began on November 20 1917.

Although this was not the first time tanks had been used in battle, the attack, which ended on December 6, marked the first time they were deployed in significant numbers.

On Sunday, the day before the anniversary, the Royal Tank Regiment marched down Whitehall wearing their traditional black berets and black overalls, passing the Cenotaph and a replica of the formidable weapon.

Lance Corporal Connah Towers stood guard in front of the Mark IV tank for the parade as his regiment marked 100 years since the offensive.

The 23-year-old said: "It is not often you see a World War One tank in the middle of London - it was quite good, especially when I saw the rest of the regiment march past."

(Yui Mok/PA)
(Yui Mok/PA)

He said the anniversary of Cambrai "means a lot every year" to those who serve in the Royal Tank Regiment - the oldest unit of its kind in the world.

"It is always the best day in the calendar, it makes you feel proud and part of something, and proud of the heritage and the regiment," he added.

David Willey, curator at the Tank Museum in Bovington, Dorset, which owns and brought the Mark IV replica to London for the parade, said it was originally made for and featured in Steven Spielberg's epic 2011 film War Horse.

Veterans of the Royal Tank Regiment Association. (Yui Mok/PA)
Veterans of the Royal Tank Regiment Association. (Yui Mok/PA)

He said the important part of the anniversary of Cambrai for them is the emphasis on it being a "British invention to save British soldiers' lives", and to show the museum's support for the current regiment.

"Cambrai is a battle where it (the tank) proved its worth 100 years ago," he added.

"Over 400 tanks attacked together, we cut a five-mile hole in the German front line - and church bells were rung in Britain for the first time during the war in celebration."

Mr Willey said members of the Royal Tank Regiment have been down at the museum for the past week learning about the tanks and their use in the First World War.

Following the parade and a short service at the Cenotaph, a wreath was laid by the Royal Tank Regiment at their memorial.