This FT17 light tank was struck in action in the Fall 1918 offensives in the left rear by a German 77mm artillery piece, putting it out of service. Fragments of the shrapnel shell were found in the tank’s interior, including a number of the shrapnel balls from the exploded shell. Although research has not shown yet who the crew was and their fate, they were probably French.

The tank was recovered by the U.S. 2nd Motor Maintenance Regiment, 2nd Battalion, Air Service Mechanics (who were being used to repair and salvage tanks instead of airplanes). During the Meuse-Argonne Offensive a company of that unit had been sent to Varennes to an improvised tank park there.
We know this because several members of the unit scratched their names on the inside of the driver’s compartment armored doors. One man was Jonathan Mulford Ashwell, who lived at 1627 Washington Street in Kansas City, Missouri.

The 2nd Battalion was attached to the French Tank Corps from May 4, 1918 to Dec. 13, 1918 and employed in repair of French Renault and Schneider tanks at Bourron, France. On Dec. 5, 1918, now General Estienne gave the 2nd Battalion Air Service Mechanics permission to wear the insignia of the French Tank Corps.

The tank is now part of the collection of the National World War I Museum and Memorial.


  • Title: Renault FT17 Tank
  • Date Created: 1918
  • Location: Kansas City, Missouri, USA
  • Subject Keywords: World War I, Tank

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