On the 8th of August,19198 the allied armies have rebuffed the Spring Offensives of the German Army, and had were now ready to launch an offensive at Amiens, spearheaded by British tanks.
A local lad from Dalkeith, James Malarkie, served with the Tank Corps in WW1, he was driver of a tank in the 14th Battalion and because of this the names of their tanks all began with letter N.
James’ brother was killed in 1914 whilst serving with the Scots Guards. Another brother Edward died of wounds in Italy, 1918. James was a miner at the Newbattle Colliery in Newtongrange.
His tank was christined Newtongrnage and it saw heavy and fierce action, which James describes in this letter home telling of his part in the battle.
He describes it in a very matter of fact manner, but this is his part in the Battle of Amiens, which was launched with the aid of over 400 tanks. It petered out after a few days but was the start of the final 100 days advance of the allied armies. German casualties were massive and it’s known as the blackest day of the German Army.
'The first day was terrible, for we werethe first to advance, and I won#t forget it in a hurry. I mounted my tank at 6pm on August the 7th and never left it until we had taken all our objectives at 11pm on the 8th of August. The secons and third days were, if anything, even worse than the first, for I was on my 'bus' for 36 hours. We came out of the action with two killed, and the officer severely wounded*. I drove the tank back to the tankadrome, and whilst I was doing so, got hit myself, but not seriously - just enough to put me out of action for a few hours before going "over the top again. I have been over amongst the pigheaded Germans twice in three days. My old tank behaved very well, during the battle and our crew simply mowed them down. By the way I named the tank Newtongrange, so if you hera any of the boys talking baout the Newtongarange tank, that is mine. I have passed out as a first classmotor driver and tank engineer. We have a splendid crew of the best gunners and a very fine officer, a Scotsman. I am very sad he got wounded, for I would follow himthrough hellfife all the way to Berlin. I am just getting ready to go over again, with a new crew and a brand new officer to see my old friend Jerry the Hun. Everybody in France from Generals down speaks very highly of tanks. One Battalion alone had the honour of capturing over a hundred guns.'
You may notice that below Newtongrange, in the B Coy list, is a tank named Niveleur, which featured in the BBC television War Machine in 2. The story of the Scotsman in the crew of this vehicle mirrors that of James Malarkie
For the action described Pte. James William Malarkie (No.112296) was awarded the Military Medal.
“For gallantry, determination, and devotion to duty during the advance from Villers-Bretonneux to Meharicourt on August 8 and 9. This man drove with great coolness and skill throughout these days.
Though suffering severely from cramp he refused to be relieved. In the action of the 9th he showed much skill and judgement in manoeuvring his tank so as to enable the crew to fire at the different targets. He also kept the crew informed of the position of our infantry, and set a splendid example of determination and devotion to duty.”
The tank commander of Newtongrange was Lt PCT Dewar on the
8th and 9th August, but he was not listed as killed or wounded. Newtongrange was tank no.9148 of B Company 14 Battalion.
The B Company Commander Capt JFC Cameron was wounded on the 8th August, so I presume he was in this tank directing the battle and was wounded as Lt Dewar was still the tank commander on the 9th.
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