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Centurion tank output doubled at Leeds: ‘Best in the world’

March 12, 1952

Output of the 50-ton Centurion tank at the Leeds Royal Ordnance Factory has been doubled during the last 12 months.

This news was given to 15 officers and other ranks of the Royal Hussars (Armoured) Regiment, who, with their Commanding Officer, Lieut Colonel Sir Guy Lowther, Bt, visited the factory yesterday. The Regiment tested the tank thoroughly under some of the worst conditions that could be found in the Korea fighting.

The Colonel also had some news for the 2,000 workers whom he addressed in the factory canteen. Not only the British and Commonwealth troops but also the Americans were now acknowledging the Centurion to be the best tank in the world, he told them.

“There is a possibility that the United Nations Organisation and perhaps the United States will buy this tank, and I am doing everything I can to make them buy it,” he said. “It has proved that British craftsmanship and British skill are as good today as they were in our grandfathers’ days.”

Sir Guy is a member of an old Yorkshire family, and fifth holder a baronetcy created in 1824. His father, the fourth baronet, was born at Swillington, near Leeds, and his mother at Tadcaster. The first baronet was MP for Cumberland for many years and brother to the first Earl Lonsdale.

During a tour of the factory with his men, Sir Guy stopped to examine one the tanks which was to be demonstrated later on the testing ground.

“Do you remember me, sir?” the driver asked him. The Colonel recognised Sunderland-bom John Willis, who was a farrier in a troop of the 8th Hussars when Sir Guy joined it as a subaltern. They last served together in Egypt, in 1938.

Mr Willis is now a Ministry Supply tester, and, with other drivers, showed how effective is the special stabiliser equipment for the Centurion’s 20-pounder gun when the tanks were taken over “the jumps.”

Sir Guy told factory workpeople that the Centurion was the only piece of equipment that, in 20 years of Army life, he had never heard the soldier criticise. “We were the first to test this tank in Korea, and we gave it a good bashing in three big actions,” he said.

Sir Guy surprised officials when he told them that when the front part of the Centurion’s track had been badly damaged by mines, they had still been able to withdraw the vehicles under their own power by an emergency conversion into a half-tracked vehicle.

Other Yorkshiremen In the party were Lance-Corporal Ronald Marshall, of Broadlea Grove, Sandford Estate, Leeds; Corporal Edgar Rands, of Rotherham; Lance-Corporal Arthur Hancock, of Margate Street, Grimethorpe; and Trooper Arthur Butterworth. of Pudsey.