Not long after the outbreak of the First World War, the government realised that the conflict was going to be a much longer and more expensive campaign than anyone first thought. The government was in a situation where it needed to reduce borrowing and raise money for the war effort. So, it came up with the idea of a National War Savings Committee in 1916 to promote the concept of being thrifty and to encourage citizens to buy War Bonds and War Savings Certificates.
The certificates were on sale for 15 shillings & 6p and could be redeemed after 5 years for £1. So, how to promote this certificate to the public?
The perfect opportunity came in November 1917 after the first major tank success at Cambrai. Tanks were first used in World War I, so were the height of modernised warfare and held in awe by many. It was decided that 6 tanks would go on a tour of the country to act as banks from which the bonds and certificates could be bought.
The Tank Banks toured different cities and towns and were met by politicians, celebrities and local heroes who would perform and hold speeches form the top of the tank. The event was hugely popular and drew massive crowds, providing a vital and much-needed increase to the war effort funding. Tanks remain as awe-inspiring and popular today as they did back in 1917. If you would love to have a Tank Driving Experience of your own, then book a day where you get to be a Tank commander with aTank Driving ExperiencefromArmourgeddon.
People travelled from far and wide to view the impressive tanks and marvel at the latest in military technology. Such was the success of the events that special commemorative souvenirs were produced. The number of souvenirs that were made demonstrates just how momentous a visit from a Tank Bank was in 1917. Millions of pounds were raised to go towards the war effort.
One popular souvenir was a model tank made from china. Crested china was a popular material at the turn of the century as with the outbreak of war, china models became increasingly influenced by topical events. As well as tanks, other china models included shells, bombs, planes and ships.
Money boxes were another favourite souvenir. The boxes produced during this time often reflected the fundraising spirit for the war effort and took the form of Tank Banks.
People also bought napkins and lapel badges to commemorate the Tank Bank drive. Surprisingly, the paper napkins made to commemorate the arrival of the Tank Banks were made extremely well as many still survive today and can be seen in the Tank Museum collection.