Matilda (?) remains on Scottish Beach.

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by the_historian, Sep 27, 2008.

  1. the_historian

    the_historian Pillboxologist

    I found this in the Flickr gallery on the Pillbox Study Group, taken by TamRankin-


    It's the remains of a Matilda tank lying on Spike Island, near Dunbar. Apparently there is more to the left of the camera.
    I've spent about a week looking for this blasted island on maps of every scale, to no avail. The minute I can narrow it down, I'll be over there like a shot!
    von Poop likes this.
  2. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    The minute I can narrow it down, I'll be over there like a shot!
    With a Trailer?

    I thought it might be a suspension sponson from a Tilly 1 but it's too hefty. (Anyone got a picture to hand of Tilly 2 with it's side-armour removed? )

    Wonder what it's doing there... Any mention of Scotland & Matildas immediately makes one think of the CDL's at Lowther Castle. I suppose there's even the possibility of some sort of postwar civvy tractor conversion if all the armour's gone.

    (I changed the thread title Gordon, tanks are for everybody :D, hope you don't mind)
  3. the_historian

    the_historian Pillboxologist

    No worries, Adam. :)
    I could only manage to take a camera over there, I'm afraid...unless Haynes do manuals for tanks!
  4. WotNoChad?

    WotNoChad? Senior Member

    It's not really an Island as far as I can make out, does any of this help?

    From; John Muir Country Park : Read reviews and compare prices at

    Belhaven also has a fine sandy beach, but it's generally not used too much for swimming as the tide goes out too far and even at full tide the water is extremely shallow. It's great for long walks however, and is part of the John Muir Country Park. A favourite spot of mine at Belhaven is Spike Island, which can be accessed by foot at low tide, and is a nesting spot for thousands of terns. It's about two or three miles offshore, but if you do decide to visit it then check the tides first, as you can very easily get cut off from the mainland if you time things wrong!

    St. Andrews Library Special Collections

    The area attracts a great many birds, and bird-watchers: Spike Island saltmarsh at the end of the bay was one of Muir's favourite places. The bridge provides access to the beach only at certain tides, otherwise it is covered by the sea.

    The SOC: Lothian sites

    Tyninghame [NT635795]
    From the embankment a track runs north giving good views over the area. This is known as the Buist's Embankment. The whole area was once a marsh but the embankment was built to hold back the sea and the marsh drained with the area now given over to agriculture. This area hosted Lothian's only Great White Egret in June 1840.
    Following the track eastwards for one mile brings you to a timber bridge across the Hedderwick Burn. This is a very good area for Kingfisher, particularly in the early mornings. After crossing the bridge continue along the beach, skirting the woods where both Green Woodpecker and Crossbill are possible, until you reach the Spike Island saltmarsh which runs down into Belhaven Bay.

    Also try pages 212 and 220 of this pdf;

    Tally Ho!
  5. Bodston

    Bodston Little Willy

    This is the best I can do as regards Tilly suspension. It does look right though. Usually described as 'Japanese style' suspension, the Matilda II had ten roadwheels in five pairs. This looks like the remains of two bogies and it's associated attachment.


    Taken from an old Squadron/Signal publication, 'British Tanks in Action', Armor Number 9.

    PS: the only Spike Island I know, is the site of the infamous Stone Roses 'secret' gig. Some godforsaken muddy mound in the Mersey.


    Attached Files:

  6. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    unless Haynes do manuals for tanks!
    Funnily enough, My copy of Spielberger's 'Tiger & King Tiger Tanks' is indeed the Haynes edition with a cover very much in their usual style :D.
    Nice thought actually, it'd be great if they followed up their Spitfire & Lancaster Manuals with some on British Armour.
  7. the_historian

    the_historian Pillboxologist

    Cheers Chad; at least I know where to start looking now.
    I also found several "Spike islands" when I tried looking for it.
  8. the_historian

    the_historian Pillboxologist

    Funnily enough, My copy of Spielberger's 'Tiger & King Tiger Tanks' is indeed the Haynes edition with a cover very much in their usual style

    It had to happen, I suppose.:D

    I checked the NMR and there was a wartime training area on what is now Hedderwick Hill Plantation, which overlooks Spike Island. That might explain why tanks were there, but not why one was left.
  9. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin


    Good photos of the Matilda's suspension.

  10. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Possibly interesting reference on 'TANKS!' to polish troops on eastern Scottish beaches using Matilda 1, nothing on Tilly 2's though.:
    Other Polish Vehicles

    Be interesting to find out what Units may have been based a little further South for training or coastal guard duties, though I suppose Ediburgh's near-ness might muddy things somewhat,
  11. the_historian

    the_historian Pillboxologist

    Intriguing, innit?!
    Dunbar was part of the East Lothian coastal crust defences, under East Scotland District, SCOTCOM. I've contacted the local museum to see if anything turns up, since I don't seem to have anything in my own files.
    To be honest, I don't know much about tanks; the caption says "Matilda" and I'm not really knowledgable enough to argue.
  12. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Well if you can find it and take a few more pictures with some sense of scale Gordon, I'm pretty sure we'll be able to decide what it was.
    If, that is, it isn't just some old earth mover :unsure:

    I do wish the original chap had taken a more direct view of it ahowing how the wheels attach.
  13. the_historian

    the_historian Pillboxologist

    Aye! I was looking at the East Lothian at War website, and discovered that the Polish 10th Mounted Rifles were in Haddington March '42-May '43. It mentions them having Covenanters/Crusader IIIs and training on the Lammermuir Hills though.
    Polish Army
  14. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    While still not exactly sure what vehicle it is, It's very unlikely to have anything to do with those two's Christie running gear.
  15. the_historian

    the_historian Pillboxologist

    I'll try and get over this weekend if possible.
    Just so I know exactly where to tell the Lifeboat to come and get me :)p), is Spike Island the one at NT65017920 just west of Belhaven Bay entrance, or the sandbar at NT65707940 which shows just seaward of the Mean Low Water Spring mark to the north of the bay's entrance?
    Bear in mind I only roughly read these off the National Monuments Record interactive map; One does so crave precision. :D
  16. Bodston

    Bodston Little Willy

    One possible piece of equipment that could have been at work here is the Matilda Baron Mine flail



    it was built and tested in Britain, however I don't know where. Edit: although I suspect Orford Ness. It was a 'Secret' after all.

  17. Capt.Sensible

    Capt.Sensible Well-Known Member

    I don't think these are Matilda bits and pieces. The bogie wheels on both Tilly 1 and 2 were solid castings, carried in a pretty substantial bogie-frame (if that's the right term). The photo of the remains on the beach shows a slim pair of bogie wheels to eaqch fitting, and not one solid wheel as it should be. The bogie units also don't look right for a Vickers type B light tank or the Meduim MkII. Definately not a cruiser, Churchill or Valentine obviously. Slightly dodgy photos from the Osprey Tilly book by the demi-god Fletcher attached. Somebody needs to write a good book on Tillys....;)


    Attached Files:

  18. Bodston

    Bodston Little Willy

    I don't agree Hugh. If you look at the pictures I posted of the Tilly climbing over the tank traps. You can see that the track has a central tooth which fits between the twin wheels, not solid.
    Your side elevation picture shows the arrangement of joined bogies, the front has three sets of wheels attached. Wheras the rear assembly has only two. I think that this is the part on the beach. A rear bogie assembly consisting of two bogies each with two, twin wheels.

  19. Capt.Sensible

    Capt.Sensible Well-Known Member

    I think you are right, Bod. The track-tooth has to fit in there somehow. The Fletcher drawings are rather misleading as they suggest the bogie wheels were solid...somebody really does need to write 'The Book' on Matildas!

  20. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    somebody really does need to write 'The Book' on Matildas!

    And Valentines.
    And Comets.
    And, and, and...

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