This film is part of Free

Tank 'Julian' in Merthyr

Julian', a battle-scarred tank, is the toast of Merthyr in June 1918. Spot 3 women without hats in the crowd that greets the monster guest.

Non-Fiction 1918 5 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales


Whoever thought of sending battle-scarred tanks to towns in Britain during 1917/1918 to sell National War Bonds was inspired. Merthyr alone raised £1m when 2 tanks – 'Julian' and 'Julian Junior' – visited for 3 days in June 1918. Nothing was safer than the tank bank, the public were told, but the borough's Director of Education refused to permit school closures over the period, fearing squashing incidents if children were roaming free. Viewers will appreciate his caution.

Tank visits were preceded by advertising campaigns in the newspapers to engender a spirit of patriotic competition: which town would give most? The welcome ceremony in Merthyr included a mock battle arranged by Glamorgan Volunteers, speeches by VIPs mounted on the tank (e.g. the Mayor, the 2 local MPs) and the presentation of a cheque to local Victoria Cross holder, Sgt J Collins. The Merthyr Express trumpeted a new dawn: "Whatever odium has during recent years been associated with the name of Merthyr will be sandwiched to death between the glorious future", the 'odium' perhaps a reference to industrial action or that bugbear of war propaganda: pacifism, as espoused by Merthyr Tydfil's late MP Kier Hardie.