Lt. Col. George S. Patten, Jr., 1st Tank Battalion, and a French Renault tank, summer 1918. Royston Leonard /

By Liana Jacob



INCREDIBLE colourised WW1 tanks photographs show in a new light the devastating power of some of history’s early armoured vehicles and the brave pioneers who first used these revolutionary vehicles.

Two tankmen sitting in an open tank Renault ft-17 (1918, France).
Royston Leonard /


Stunning images illustrate the dynamic realities of the First World War with one showing the Lt. Col. George Patten standing in front of his 1st Tank Battalion and a French Renault tank during the summer of 1918.

Renault FT (M17) tank during World War I (1916).
Royston Leonard /


Another picture shows two tankmen in an open tank Renault ft-17 in France, 1918, and a tank ploughing its way through a trench and toward the German line near Saint Michel.

A German A7V Sturmpanzerwagen in Roye, France on March 21, 1918.
Royston Leonard /


A British tank can be seen crossing the trenches in Flanders, Belgium, and a long queue of soldiers lining behind a WW1 tank.

Taken on the British Western Front in France – one of the new armoured cars on the battlefield of September 15, 1918.
Royston Leonard /


The fascinating photos were expertly colourised by electrician, Royston Leonard (55), from Cardiff, Wales, who says that adding colour to the pictures would modernise them.

A World War I tank caught in a barbed wire entaglement.
Royston Leonard /


“Tanks are a part of modern armies the world over – this set shows them right at the beginning when they were first used in battle,” he said.

Tanks showing some of their antics during the King George Vs visit to their Headquarters in Sautrecourt, France (1918).
Royston Leonard /


“We see the change on the battle field from old style war, to a fast moving one, changing warfare forever.”

Infantry passing one of the new armoured cars on their way to the front line (1918).
Royston Leonard /


The advancement of tanks during WWI was a response to the draw that had developed on the Western Front.

The British army on the Western Front, June 22, 1918.
Royston Leonard /


Prior to World War One, which lasted for four years between July 28, 1914, to November 11, 1918, motorised vehicles were still relatively uncommon, and their use on the battlefield was initially restricted, especially with heavier vehicles.

British Army tanks moving with support forces when fighting in France in 1918.
Royston Leonard /


On August 23, 1914, the French Colonel Jean Baptiste Eugene Estienne, later a major proponent of tanks, declared ‘the victory will belong, in this war, to the one of the two belligerents who will be the first to succeed in mounting a 75-millimetre gun on a vehicle capable of moving in all types of terrain.’

This tank is ploughing its way through a trench and toward the German line near Saint Michel, France, 1918.
Royston Leonard /


“The first tanks where slow and would break down constantly, which was hell for the crew, but they worked to turn the battle,” Royston said.

At Cambrai, German soldiers load a captured British Mark I tank onto a railroad, in Nov 1917.
Royston Leonard /


“They did not know how to use them and it would take about a year after their first use to iron out problems with the tanks and their correct use on the battle field.”

A British tank crossing the trenches in Flanders, Belgium.
Royston Leonard /


In the First World War, tanks had first appeared at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette in September 1916. Tanks in WW1 played an very important role as they increased mobility on the Western Front and eventually broke the stalemate of trench warfare.


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