“Mephisto” was captured by Australian infantry following damage sustained in the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux. Although an attempt had been made to destroy the vehicle, resulting in the damage to the roof seen here, the Australians were able to recover it, and it now is the only surviving example of the A7V, kept at the Queensland Museum.
Mephisto, the German A7V tank captured by the 26th Australian battalion, at Monument Wood, near Villers-Bretonneux, in France, on July 14th, 1918.
At the 5th Tank Brigade demonstration ground, Vaux-en-Amienois, Australian soldiers inspect Mephisto, a German A7V tank. After being bogged and abandoned on the battlefield it was recovered on 14 July 1918 by the 26th Battalion and the 1st Gun Carrier company, 5th Brigade of Tanks. After been recovered from the battlefield and studied by the Allies, Mephisto was handed over to the Australian War Records Section for despatch to Australia.
Scattered on the ground are elements from the tank’s interior, including a fuel tank and radiator (left hand front quarter) and a machine gun mount (under the rear towing hook). Resting on its end against the crew cupola on the tank’s rear upper surface can be seen the underside of a portion of the tank’s driving compartment flooring. The horizontal bar visible in the photograph is connected to the driver’s steering wheel (on the other side of the plate).
Mephisto was painted with a smiling, red demon, Mephistopholes from German literature hence the name of the tank, Mephisto. Tucked under the arm of the grinning demon was a British tank.
After its capture by the Allies it was inspected and graffitied by hundreds of British and Australian soldiers. In response to the mocking demon holding a British tank a rampant lion was painted on the side of Mephisto. And sure enough, sitting under the paw of the British lion was the silhouette of a German A7V tank.
Mephisto was shipped back to Australia after the War and came to rest in Brisbane. With the explosion of commemoration of the War due to the centenary, Mephisto - the only surviving A7V tank in the world - has been shipped down to Canberra and is now on show in the Anzac Hall at the Australian War Memorial.