Firm brings 24-ton tank north

The Yanks are coming... or so it seemed for thousands of motorists on the M1.

A huge US Sherman M4 E9 tank was this week transported north from Southampton docks by Sowerby Bridge firm Stoneywood Motors.

It was one of the more unusual requests for the company whose vehicles are regulary seen on the district's roads recovering damaged and broken-down vehicles.

Recovery manager Steve Fielding said the company had a licence for heavy haulage and transported all kinds of loads such as cranes to machinery.

"But this was something we don't do every day," he said.

The tank, weighing 24 tons after its engine had been removed, was lifted on to a low-loader by dock cranes.

It then travelled north at around 35mph to Boroughbridge, near York, to be delivered to a collector of army vehicles.

"It was one of the more unusual jobs but it went off without problems," said Mr Fielding.

"We chained the tank down and can transport such loads – it is the people at each end with the responsibility of loading and unloading."

The tank was bought by Ken Pugh, of Leeds, who has a workshop at Boroughbridge.

It was being used as a climbing frame in a children's park in California.

Mr Pugh said it was manufactured during the war and was used as a static tank in the US war film Flags of our Fathers.

"There are only about half-a-dozen of these tanks left in the world," said Mr Pugh.

He has a private collection of Second World War military vehicles including jeeps and troop carriers and intends opening a museum.

"The plan is to tell the story of the people who used the equipment and what happened to them after the war," he said.