How a Lincoln UK soldier made history in world’s first tank battle 100 years ago

The Lincolnshire Echo has posted an article about historian Richard Pullen’s quest to find information about a WW1 era British tanker.  Pullen is searching for information on Thomas  Keightley, who served in a British Mark I tank at the battle of Flers-Courcelette in Northern France in 1916.  Lincoln was the home of Thomas Keightley, and also the location of the William Foster and Co Ltd Factory which produced the very first British tanks.

Article excerpt:

4489569Historian Richard Pullen, 44, from North Scarle, has discovered that Thomas Keightley fought in the battle on board a tank.

He said: “We are laying a wreath at his grave at Newport Cemetery at 11am on September 15 and then we will be placing another wreath at the tank memorial in Tritton Road.

“Thomas Keightley was born in Doncaster but grew up in Lincoln as the son of a Methodist minister. He married Florrie Horton in 1911 and they had two daughters.

“We don’t know what regiment he was in before tanks as his service records were lost among with the two million ‘burnt documents’ of World War One servicemen that were destroyed in German bombing of London in 1940.

“We do know that he was in the Heavy Branch of the Machine Gun Corps which was the first unit to use tanks in battle.

“Thomas served in C Company and was in the very first action at Flers. He carried on in the Tank Corps until after the war so he must have been in the other big tank battles like Cambrai, although we don’t have his records.

“He lived in Monks Road and in other parts of Lincoln and when he died aged 59 in December 1944 he left Florrie an estate worth £1,000, a lot of money in those days, so he must have been a successful businessman of some sort.”

Full article here.

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