Australian Army veterans from Parramatta’s NSW Lancers Memorial Museum will see their project to fully restore a WW2 Matilda Tank realised on 9 July after over 20,000 volunteer hours and five years of difficult restoration, the Tank named ACE will run under its own power for the first time in 70 years.
The tank is one of just three surviving Matilda tanks that plunged into the waters of the Macassar Straights on 1 July 1945, in what is to this day Australia’s largest ever armoured assault, at Balikpapan in the then Dutch East Indies.
This complex and expensive restoration project has been commended with a coveted National Trust Conservation award, acknowledging the significance of Australia’s only fully restored tank that saw active service in WW2.
The former chair of the Lancers Association, Les Betts first recognised the abandoned tank in a paddock near Moss Vale in 1997 where it sat for over 50 years. ACE was the tank he had driven in WW2 and was the first tank off the landing craft at Balikpapan in 1945.
“On its discovery in 1997 ACE was a rusting hulk, filled with compacted vegetation that had fallen from the surrounding trees, topped off with a layer of smelly water and hemmed in by small trees that had grown around the hull. The two other Balikpapan Matildas will never be restored to full mobility, and the consensus in 1997 was that ACE never would be either. Fortunately a few Museum volunteers thought otherwise,” said Ian Hawthorn, an Army veteran and volunteer at the NSW Lancers Memorial Museum.
The restored tank will later be consecrated as a war memorial and will go on permanent public display at Lancer Barracks in Parramatta.
The tank will also be available for military and community events in the Sydney metropolitan region.
For information on how you can support our veteran volunteers in maintaining the Lancer Association’s heritage military fleet contact the firstname.lastname@example.org.