The family of World War One Tank Corps officer Elliot Hotblack, who received four gallantry awards, visited The Tank Museum in Dorset to pay their respects to a much admired ancestor.
Elliot Hotblack is one of the most decorated and well-known soldiers celebrated in The Tank Museum’s World War One’s landmark exhibition: Tank Men, which follows the stories of eight men through the war and beyond.
His family visited The Tank Museum to pay their respects and see the life-size model of their ancestor. They also gifted Curator David Willey a bottle of wine from Cambrai, France – the location of the famous tank advance in 1917.
Joining the Army in 1914 as an officer, Hotblack’s baptism of fire was in May 1915, where he was shot in the left hand by a sniper during the Battle of Festubert.
Two years later in 1917, Hotblack was wounded again, suffering head injuries on the first day of the battle of Arras. He was promptly evacuated to a Red Cross hospital behind the lines.
Although having a suspected fractured skull, he escaped from the hospital to return to his comrades. He struggled five miles through a snow storm and returned to HQ, despite blood seeping through his bandages. Not long after, he was wounded two more times, in his leg and again in the head.
Hotblack was awarded a Military Cross for gallantry in September 1918. Attacking a German position, his tank was knocked out. Despite being injured once again, he made sure the wounded got to safety and arranged the infantry in a defence against the impending German counter-attack.
Despite the hostilities, festive greetings did not stop for war. In The Tank Museum’s archive is a card wishing ‘Christmas Greetings’ from Hotblack himself. The main picture features a crewman waving his cap from a Mark IV Tank.
The Tank Corps crest is at the top right hand side listing the battle honours of the Corps: Somme, Ancre, Arras, Messines, 3rd Ypres and, of course, Cambrai.
Curator David Willey, said: “Hotblack, who went on to become a Major-General, was one of the most extraordinary early Tank Corps officers.
“He was a boys’ own hero of outstanding bravery but also intelligent, very human and caring,” he said. “We have an exhibition in which his story is told and he is depicted with a life-size model, and this Christmas card adds another angle to his and the other servicemen’s lives.”