On 26 Sep 14 tanks went in to action. Eight were in support of General Gough’s Reserve Army in the area north and west of the Roman road and 6 were supporting Rawlinson’s Fourth Army to the south and east of the Roman road. In the north the allocation was:
- 2nd Canadian Division – 2 D Coy tanks
- 18th (Eastern) Division – 4 C Coy tanks
- 11th (Northern) Division – 2 C Coy tanks
The original task for the tanks supporting the Canadians was to reach Courcelette and cruise around rendering assistance. This was later made more specific. One tank ditched on the way forward; the second advanced to its first position which caused the German infantry to withdraw but it then came under artillery fire and was abandoned.
The tanks operating with 18th Division around Thiepval, one of the objectives for 1 July 1916 had some success. One tank destroyed a German machine gun post and the helped the infantry capture the Chateau. The other 3 tanks ditched and one of them was destroyed by German artillery. The 2 tanks with 11th Division ditched but their crews supported the infantry attack after baling out.
In the south the allocation was:
- 56th (1st London) Division – 2 Coy tanks
- 21st Division – 4 D Coy tanks
The 2 tanks with the 56th Division ditched before they reached the objective. In the east inly 1 tank was available, D4. It made its way out of Flers and moved to meet up with the 8th Leicesters. The tank drove along a German tank followed by a bombing party which drove the Germans out (and in to the hands of the Guards Div). D4 enabled the capture of 1500m of trench and the capture of over 350 prisoners.
Fred Horrocks, a D Coy crewman, was killed at Delville Wood. He was 34.
2Lt Charles Storey was awarded the DSO for his actions that day. His citation reads
“For gallantry and initiative in command of tank D14 on September 26 when he was called upon by GOC 110th Bde to clear up certain trenches SE of Guedecourt which were holding up the infantry. Lt Storey took his car up and down each trench, working until all his petrol was exhausted and only two of the crew were unwounded. He is reported as having been responsible for the taking of between 200 and 300 prisoners. I consider this to be the best tank performance up to date.”