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News Filmmakers help Deborah’s WW1 legacy live on

Filmmakers from Staffordshire University are sharing the unique story of a war tank discovered buried underneath a battlefield.

Tank 'Deborah' was discovered underneath a battlefield in 1998
Image: Tank 'Deborah' was discovered underneath a battlefield in 1998

We are honoured to be invited by Queen’s University Belfast to the International World War One heritage event 'Living Legacies'.

Fiona Graham, Associate Professor of Film Production

27 tonne tank ‘Deborah’ was uncovered by local resident Philippe Gorczynski MBE in Cambrai, France in 1998 after lying dormant for over eight decades.

Over the past six years, filmmakers Fiona Graham Paul Ottey have been working with communities in France and the UK to tell the story of the rare Mark IV tank, her crew and the 1917 Battle of Cambrai.

Now, they have been specially selected to share their research during the ‘Living Legacies Festival’ in Belfast - a week of free public activities marking the final celebrations of the World War One Centenary.

Fiona, Associate Professor of Film Production, commented: “We are honoured to be invited by Queen’s University Belfast to the International World War One heritage event Living Legacies.

“I think what really appealed to the organisers is that Deborah is no longer a war-making machine, she’s a peace-making machine bringing communities and people together.”

The research project, which received funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), uses novel 4K and drone digital film technologies and techniques. Throughout filming, Fiona and Paul worked closely with relatives of the tank’s crew, the Royal Tank Regiment, and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The final documentary shows Deborah’s journey to her final resting place with the creation of a new unique tank museum in Flesquieres in France – beside the Commonwealth War Graves site of her crew.

Paul, Senior Lecturer in Film Production, said: “Working for the past few years with the Royal Tank Regiment, families of the tank and the communities in France and Britain, it’s been wonderful to film and capture the story for longevity using various 4K and drone footage.”

The film has gained momentum across Europe and was installed at Carlisle Castle in Cumbria, is being used by the French Tourist Board, plus was shown at the Royal Tank Regiment Museum in Bovington, Dorset where it has been seen by more than 200,000 people .

Paul and Fiona have also been visiting schools in both Cambrai and Staffordshire to share their work with pupils.

Fiona said: “It’s been great to speak to pupils in France and the UK to engage the next generation, so they learn about WW1 through film.

“Although this is the end of the Centenary commemorations, it isn’t the end of Deborah’s journey. We’ll continue to explore new ways of telling her story and our next aim is to do this through immersive technologies – so watch this space!”

You can view a short version of the film 'Tank Deborah' here - https://vimeo.com/336567606

 

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