Last days of Egbert the tank

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ALL good things must come to an end.

And the final days of Egbert the tank – the hero of Hartlepool – arrived in 1937.

The “old warrior” as he came to be known, had made history by coming less than two decades earlier when he became a Hartlepool landmark after the First World War.

The town won him as a prize from the war when Hartlepool people raised more money for the war effort than any other community in the land. In fact, they raised a remarkable £2.3m.

But by the 1930s, Egbert was up before the committee. His days were numbered.

A once-loved tank had divided West Hartlepool Town Council’s members. Some said he was a lesson on the reminders of war and should be retained exactly for that reason.

But others said he was a “relic of barbarism” with one councillor even calling for him to be rolled into the sea.

His fate was decided on June 4, 1937 when by 20 votes to 12, councillors decided to scrap him.

But his demise only came after much debate. Coun Ryan said Egbert was not so much a silent advocate for war but a Belisha beacon.

And “with all his battle scars held together he would be an object lesson to coming generations of the horrors of war,” he added.

Just as vociferous was Alderman Hope who said, if the people of Hartlepool could be taken into account, it would be a unanimous vote in favour of retention.

Alderman Green had a different view. He’d served as a First World War soldier and said he had no respect for Egbert. He said the King had already commanded that certain war mementoes be removed from Windsor Castle so Hartlepool “had a royal precedent for removing Egbert.”

A compromise came from Alderman Richardson who suggested that, if Egbert was to meet his end, his plaque should be retained.

In the end his fate was sealed, and Egbert – the tank which was won by a town – was rejected by it less than 20 years after his arrival.