The Tank Museum Publishing ‘Tank Man’ Biography

Photo Credit: The Tank Museum (Colorized by
Photo Credit: The Tank Museum (Colorized by

The Tank Museum in Bovington, United Kingdom has announced it’ll be releasing a biography about famed World War I-era tank commander Capt. Albert “Bert” Baker. Titled Tank Man – The Life and Times of Captain Bert Baker, the book will cover not only his wartime exploits, but his life following the conflict.

Albert Baker standing next to the gun captured at Graincourt-lès-Havrincourt
Albert Baker with the gun captured at Graincourt-lès-Havrincourt. (Photo Credit: The Tank Museum)

The upcoming biography was written by Albert Baker’s grandson, Jonathan, who spoke with The Tank Museum about what he covered in the book. Along with covering his grandfather’s drive to serve, it also serves as a “social history” of his post-war life.

“Bert was no more prepared to fight in a war than any of the countless thousands of others who streamed into army recruiting offices in the autumn of 1914,” Jonathan shared. “His life up to that point had been confined to a small family dairy in south London.”

He added, “The book is also a social history. Growing up in the newly emerging suburbia in London, the ins and outs of running an urban dairy and his own post-war involvement as a chemical analyst in the efforts to produce milk that was safe to drink.”

Military portrait of Albert Baker
Albert Baker. (Photo Credit: The Tank Museum)

Albert Baker was the recipient of two Military Crosses during World War I. The decoration is presented to members of the British Armed Forces, in recognition of “an act or acts of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land.”

An analytical chemist by trade, he began his military service in the trenches, before joining the newly-established Tank Corps in its early days. “Tanks had a painful infancy,” Jonathan told The Tank Museum. “But as an officer in the Tank Corps, he featured in two actions that helped establish it once and for all as a frontline weapon – winning a Military Cross in the first and a bar to it in the second.”

Baker’s first notable action occurred during a raid outside of Ypres, Belgium in August 1917. He and others from the Tank Corps were tasked with taking German pillboxes, the largest of which was “The Cockroft.” Surrounded by eight-foot-thick concrete walls and housing upwards of 100 enemy soldiers, it was a daunting sight.

Twelve tanks from G Battalion attacked the position, with many of the armored vehicles proving ineffective against the pillboxes. That being said, the British were ultimately successful in their endeavor, and were able to take the area with light casualties; the Tank Corps only suffered two deaths and 13 wounded.

Mark IV tank being dug out of a trench by German troops
German soldiers digging out a British Mark IV tank in Cambrai, France. (Photo Credit: Bundesarchiv, Bild 104-0941A / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0 de)

The event that saw Albert Baker receive his second Military Cross occurred during the Battle of Cambrai in the latter part of 1917. In command of the Mark IV tank Gorgonzola II, he and other British tanks advanced toward the German-held French village of Graincourt-lès-Havrincourt.

Gorgonzola II and the rest of the armored vehicles immediately became the targets of German field guns. Undeterred, Baker, his crew and another tank pushed on and managed to “see off the gun crew and capture the gun intact.” This allowed British infantry to continue on and liberate the village.

Following the war, Baker returned home to Britain, where he went back to work as an analytical chemist in the dairy industry.

Tank Men exhibition at The Tank Museum
Tank Men exhibition at The Tank Museum. (Photo Credit: The Tank Museum)

In honor of Albert Baker’s heroics, The Tank Museum has set up an exhibit, which features the gun he captured in 1917. The institution also holds the notebook where he recounted his wartime experiences.

More from us: Canadian National Vimy Memorial Vandalized in France

Tank Man – The Life and Times of Captain Bert Baker is currently available for pre-order via The Tank Museum’s shop. It’s slated for release in mid-October 2023.

Clare Fitzgerald

Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

Writing Portfolio
Stories of the Unsolved