Sunday 15 July 2012

Fray Bentos is a place? And the name of a tank?

It's all gone a bit Fray Bentos.

Common enough phrase.
So I did some digging.

I was prompted to do this as I had just finished reading "Iron Fist" by Bryan Perrett.
It's about classic armoured warfare.
"Wait. What?" I hear you say?

Well. I discovered that a tank commander in world war one named his lumbering death trap "Fray Bentos".
When asked why he chose the name his reply was "Meat in a tin."
Somehow appropriate.

So here's some facts...

It's named after a Jesuit priest.
Yes. Really.

It's actually a physical place!
It's actually the capital of the Río Negro Department of western Uruguay (Follow the link to wikipedia to see more)
Both the beef and Oxo came from the same place.
Once called "El Frigorifico Liebig de Fray Bentos"

People all over the world complain about opening them.
Phrases like
"Had to resort to hammer and chisel."
"Gave up. Ate peanuts."
"They should come with a free set of boltcutters, a 14inch angle grinder and a chainsaw."
"Used plastic explosive."
Personally I've never, ever had a problem or cut myself.

By the last year of world war one, allied troops were consuming one million pounds of beef a day.

And so we return to the tank action in world war one.

F Battalion Tank Corps at the third battle of Ypres 1917.
This one tank named "Fray Bentos" fought for several days out in no mans land, alone, disabled, crew massively injured, constantly peppered with shells and machine gun fire for FOUR DAYS.
Some hand to hand combat was involved.
It's a frickin' tank alone in a blasted landscape of blood and gore 600 yards from the English line.

When the action was over, and still out in no mans land, the crew had no choice to retire.
The tank was completely stuffed, bogged and falling to bits and they only had a few rounds of pistol ammunition.
So they staggered, dragging their injured comrades, across the 600 yards of blasted landscape back to the English lines.

The Germans did not fire a shot to impede them.

There's even a memorial to it!
Go here:
And search for Fray.
There's that tank.
Even photo's of Capt Richardson.

Captain Ronald Richardson I salute you.

It's all gone a bit Fray Bentos.

1 comment:

  1. Very good article, just wanted to tell you the origin of Fray Bentos is not due to an argentine monk. The name appears on maps of the year 1600 (200 years before that country existed). Chances are that this place was first seen on the day of St. Benedict (Fray Bentos) and they just named the place after the saint.