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Hobart's Funnies '“ it could have been about Tasmanian comedians, instead it was a tribute to General Percy Hobart and to his expertise in helping to create a tank force that overcame the odds to establish a bridgehead on the Normandy beaches in June 1944.
Guest speaker Mr Brian Cook recently showed Berwick Probus some of the modifications to the allied tanks which enabled them to perform a variety of vital tasks. He is a medal-maker and his work was remarkable.
A man who had persuaded Churchill to build thousands of tanks to challenge the might of the German Panzers, General Hobart had been offered the role of tank development because of his work in the army.
He realised that to succeed on D-day he needed a force with speed and penetration. He was also aware they would find obstacles laid by the Germans on, above and under the sea.
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Hobart died of cancer at the age of 71. By then he had seen British, Canadian and American tanks work wonders.
His modified ‘funnies’ were accepted as a great success. They included ‘swimming’ flails, which cleared through minefields, ‘bobbins’, which enabled a carpet to be laid down for others to move comfortably on sand, bridge-layers, flame throwers, ‘dustbin throwers’ used to breach defences, and rocket-firers.
Mr Cook also referred to the amphibious DUKW and the versatile jeeps, of which 650,000 were manufactured. They also played a notable part in ultimate victory.