The sources have been carefully selected from the Churchill Archive to lead to discussion and argument surrounding the invention of the tank. They represent a small selection of sources from the Archive. One way in to the sources might be to ask students to classify them – letters, official papers, telegrams, etc. - and then rank them by how useful they are. It is much better to use the whole collection of sources rather than split them – it is essential that students get the ‘big picture’ to be able to answer the question.
You might ask students if the sources provide an answer to the question posed by this Investigation:
|Source||Churchill deserves credit for the tank||Other person(s) should be given the credit||Reasons why the source is strong or weak evidence about this particular issue– (e.g. date of source, typicality, purpose)|
Source 10, the private letter to Churchill by D'Eyncourt, describes the 'finished product' of the tank, or at least as finished as it was in February 1916.
Most of these documents refer to the period 1915 when Churchill, as First Lord of the Admiralty, was deeply embroiled in the Dardanelles Campaign - a costly failure for which Churchill took most of the blame and lost political office. In fact, for most historians, the Dardanelles Campaign defines Churchill's First World War. And yet here we have him playing a key role in the development of the tank - one of the great successes of the First World War. How do these documents, taken as a whole, alter our perception of the part played by Churchill in winning the war?
To help with this you might ask students to compare the Investigation, 'What went wrong at Gallipoli?' with this Investigation covering a very similar time period. Finally, you might ask what went 'right' with the tank and what went 'wrong' with Gallipoli.