Kirriemuir Tank Bank
On Friday 20 September 1918, Kirriemuir was the first of the Angus burghs to welcome the visiting tank 113 Julian on his north east of Scotland tour. He was met with great enthusiasm by crowds of Kirrie folk of all ages as he made his way through the town from the station. Local schools had been closed for the day and shops, under the recommendation of the Town Council, were closed for an hour of the afternoon, giving everyone the opportunity to participate in the day’s spectacle. Headed by the Boys’ Brigade Pipe Band, and with a guard of honour provided by the burgh’s special constables, led by Chief Constable Birnie, Julian made his way to the High Street where he was to remain for the rest of the day.
Captain McIntosh, who was in command of the tank during the Angus visit, had seen active service with the Cameron Highlanders, attached to the famous 51st Division. The three men who formed his crew also had experiences of war and, along with Julian, were now on home service. As the tank made his way through Kirriemuir, Julian proudly displayed his teddy bear mascots upon his face. The smaller of the two, which had travelled with him from the battlefields of France, was rescued from the Germans just 24 hours after being captured by the enemy during the March Offensive.
The opening ceremony took place at 11:00 am, performed by Lord Strathclyde, Lord Justice General of Scotland and Lord President of the Court of Session, who was accompanied on the roof of the tank by Provost Ogilvy and Bailie Wilkie. The other members of Kirriemuir Town Council and various other public bodies remained inside the roped off area of Julian’s enclosure throughout the proceedings.
Lord Strathclyde addressed the crowd, applauding Kirriemuir’s past record of war contributions and stressing the importance those at home played in Britain’s war effort.
“Kirriemuir had in the past stood head and shoulders above all the other burghs in Scotland. Stornoway disputed their title (laughter) but until Stornoway proved it was better…first place would go to Kirriemuir. The tank afforded those who could not go into the fighting line or make munitions of war an opportunity of lending a hand in the great struggle, and backing up in the best way could the efforts of their fellow countrymen who were fighting their battles for them both by sea and land”
The empty shop at 42 High Street was opened up as a Tank Office where prize tickets were distributed to investors at the tank. For the remainder of Julian’s visit investments were collected at the Tank Office and the Post Office by Postmaster Buchanan, the Rev. George Johnstone Chree, honorary secretary of the Local War Savings Association, and their staff.
The day proved to be successful for all involved, with Kirriemuir raising £55,241.7s.6d. in contributions to the National War Loan campaign. This amounted to over £27 per head of the population. In addition to the £104,799 raised during Tank Week in February and the £43,174 collected during War Weapons Week in April, Kirriemuir’s contribution to the war effort by the end of September totalled £202,214.8s.6d. Local traders and hawkers also took advantage of the visit by Julian, selling postcards, miniature tanks, and other souvenirs to the crowds who attended the day.