Fred Mace

93076, Private, “B” Battalion. Tank Corps. (Formerly 15029 Essex Regiment).

Missing In Action on the 23rd November 1917 aged 21 .

On the 22rd November 1917 the Battalion were ordered to attack the village of Fontaine in co-operation with 152nd Infantry brigade, with their final objective being the railway line just North of the village. That night 13 Tanks lay hidden in the sunken road near La Justice Farm, just below the ridge overlooking the village.

The following morning at 9.40am the Tanks moved off and arrived at the barrage line precisely at 10.30am, as instructed. The Tanks reached the village in the full expectancy that there would be strong enemy resistance but found the streets empty and strangely quiet. In fact, the German defenders were employing a new tactic, they had hidden themselves in the cellars and upper floors of the houses and waited for the Tanks to pass. Then there was a fierce assault on the Tanks and their crews, with the German infantry using grenades on the cabs and doors of the Tanks as these had proven to be more lightly armoured. Additionally, the Germans were employing a new type of anti-tank bullet and were also using anti-tank shells fired from a gun located on the Bapume – Cambrai road, north-east of the village. The Tanks were, in some cases, literally torn to pieces and many men perished in their blazing hulks. The British infantry were unable to give proper support owing to the heavy fire that was been aimed at them by the Germans located in the village.  Although the Tanks manoeuvred in and out of the village for most of the day they proved to be of little use without the appropriate infantry support and by 4pm the Battalion had taken a severe beating. Casualties were high with 60 men killed or missing and a further 88 wounded.

Fred has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Cambrai Memorial, Louveral, France. (Panel 13.)

Medal Entitlement:  British War Medal & Victory Medal

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