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Is this the strangest blind date ever? Norfolk’s female tank travels to meet her man

Norfolk Tank Museum’s Deborah, left, with Big Brute. Both are First World War MK IV tanks. Picture: Norfolk Tank Museum

Norfolk Tank Museum’s Deborah, left, with Big Brute. Both are First World War MK IV tanks. Picture: Norfolk Tank Museum

Archant

The song says Love is a Battlefield. And lyrics came to life at one of the strangest blind dates ever seen.

Norfolk Tank Museum’s Deborah, back, with Big Brute. Both are First World War MK IV tanks. Picture: Norfolk Tank MuseumNorfolk Tank Museum’s Deborah, back, with Big Brute. Both are First World War MK IV tanks. Picture: Norfolk Tank Museum

For - in a liaison not seen since the Second World War - a “female” tank from Norfolk travelled to Dorset to meet a “male” tank.

Whether a shotgun wedding will follow the date is not known, but the special occasion was hailed as “absolutely fantastic”.

The event took place at the Great Dorset Steam Fair where the Norfolk Tank Museum’s MK IV tank Deborah II met Big Brute, Bovington Tank Museum’s MK IV. Female tanks had just machine guns and were designed for defending against infantry attacks. Male tanks had two 6lb guns and three Lewis machine guns, designed to take out pillboxes and other tanks.

By 1918, all tanks were hermaphrodite, with both the male and female weapons.

Deborah at the Norfolk Tank Museum Armourfest. Picture: Sonya DuncanDeborah at the Norfolk Tank Museum Armourfest. Picture: Sonya Duncan

The First World War tanks commanded a lot of attention from visitors at the weekend as part of a large battlefield display and were stood in deep trenches.

Stephen MacHaye, director of Norfolk Tank Museum, which is based at Forncett St Peter, near Diss, said: “It was brilliant and absolutely fantastic and it is a special event. I don’t know when this will happen again because the two tanks are based at the other ends of the country.”

He added: “The tanks draw very wide spectrums of people. Some are fascinated by the engineering and others for what it stands for.

“Some people say, ‘my granddad was in tanks during the First or Second World War.

Norfolk Tank Museum’s First World War MK IV tank Deborah was popular with First World War renactors at the Great Dorset Steam Fair. Picture: Norfolk Tank MuseumNorfolk Tank Museum’s First World War MK IV tank Deborah was popular with First World War renactors at the Great Dorset Steam Fair. Picture: Norfolk Tank Museum

“It is a very historic vehicle and they are very impressive. To get two beside each other is very impressive.”

Groups of First World War re-enactors were eager to make Deborah’s acquaintance.

Both she and Big Brute are well known tanks. He featured in the Steven Spielberg film War Horse, while Deborah was the star of the Channel 4 documentary Guy Martin’s WW1 tank.

It followed Mr Martin as he recreated a replica Mk IV - the first tank to see successful active duty in the Battle of Cambrai, which took place in northern France in November 1917.

First World War MK IV tank Deborah with a  calvary man. Picture: Norfolk Tank MuseumFirst World War MK IV tank Deborah with a calvary man. Picture: Norfolk Tank Museum

Deborah was the female Mark IV of 12 Section, 12th Company, D Battalion. Tasked with attacking the Hindenburg Support line west of Flesquieres, it was there she was hit by several enemy artillery rounds and five of her eight crew were killed.

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