Philippe Gorczynski, a passionate collector of Great War artefacts, was fascinated by the development of battle tanks, first used in great numbers at the Battle of Cambrai (20th November – 7th December 1917). Painstaking documentary research allowed him to pinpoint the location of a tank 6 miles south-west of Cambrai, near the village of Flesquières (Nord). Local tradition held that a tank had been pushed into a huge pit, initially intended to house one of the bunkers of the Hindenburg Line. Using aerial photographs, Philippe Gorczynski managed to determine the precise location of the pit in question. But what state would the tank be in ?
In November 1998, the regional archaeology service and the archaeology department of the City of Arras provided technical assistance with the exploratory survey, and then the unearthing of the tank. This armoured vehicle, a ‘Mark IV female’ was almost entirely intact, with the exception of the front right section and some of the mechanical parts. Archive research allowed the team to identify this tanks as D. 51 ‘Deborah’ of the British Tank Corps. The presence of sheet metal covering the openings would suggest that the tank was subsequently used an underground shelter. The extraction process took four days, from 17th to 20th November 1998. This operation was funded entirely by Philippe Gorczynski, and the tank is now on display in Flesquières. It was officially listed as a Historic Monument on 14th September 1999.