The photo is of a carved, wooden replica WW2 Matilda Tank being presented to the NSW Lancers Museum. The truly remarkable fact is that it was carved by a quadriplegic, who held his carving instruments in his teeth while crafting the model. It is now on display in the Museum of the 1st/15th Royal NSW Lancers Museum, in heritage listed Lancer Barracks, Parramatta, mainland Australia’s oldest military Barracks, as a tribute to the truly amazing things people with serious disabilities can do.

The tank in the background is the “real thing” – a WW2 Australian Matilda Tank which was the model for the carving. However, it is not any old Matilda, but the first tank off the landing craft at Australia’s largest ever armoured assault, mounted by the Lancers at Balikpapan, on the then island of Borneo, on 1st July 1945.

The tank is named ACE. It is the only one of three surviving Balikpapan Matildas to be, or ever will be restored to full mobility. As the only military Museum left in NSW or the ACT (including the Australian War Memorial) committed to restoring and maintaining its fleet of heritage military vehicles in full running condition, you can travel the length and breadth of Australia and never see a heavy tracked armoured fighting vehicle start it’s engines and move around the Barracks, especially when it is a national heritage item in the condition it’s wartime crew would have fought in it.

Once COVID restrictions are eased, the Museum will re-start its Tank Open Days when, on the last Sunday of every month, visitors to the Museum will be guaranteed to witness a heavy tracked armoured vehicle start it’s engines and drive around, once at 11am and again at 2pm. It might be ACE or, perhaps, the Museum’s 50 ton Centurion Main Battle Tank.

Hope to see you there.

Ian Hawthorn
NSW Lancers Memorial Museum Incorporated