“Mephisto” – the greatest Queensland war trophy

Proudly hosted by  Abbey Museum Friends is the next of our talk series for 2019: “Mephisto” – the greatest Queensland war trophy. Greg Czechura, Queensland Museum research author and long-time Abbey Museum supporter and Friend, will share his fascinating insights into this battle-scarred war trophy. Many Queenslanders over the age of 40 years will immediately recognise the magnificent WW1 German-built tank, which for many years guarded the entrance of Queensland Museum and is now the sole-surviving A7V tank in the world.

Queensland significance

Mephisto has special significance for Queensland as a powerful commemoration of our wartime sacrifice and silent witness to the horrific events of WW1 frontline battle.  In July 1918, near Villers-Bretonneux in Northern France, a detachment of soldiers from the 26th Battalion, mainly comprised of Queenslanders, helped recover the abandoned tank and drag it back to the allied lines. It was soon after claimed as a war trophy by prominent Queenslanders and transported to Brisbane, arriving at Norman Wharf in June 1919.  It took two Brisbane City Council steamrollers to transfer the tank to the Queensland Museum which was then located in Fortitude Valley. 

Battle scars

Originally known as “Tank 506”, Mephisto, was so named in honour of its fiery decoration.  The upper left armour plate is decorated with the figure of Mephistopheles, the red, smiling Faustian demon, on the upper front left armour plate.  Cheekily tucked under this image of the demon’s arm is a rhomboid-shaped British tank and the original skull-and-crossbones overpainted with a single cross pattée, or German cross.  This repeated black and white cross appears prominently on both sides of the tank, giving it unique identity within the small tank unit. 

As one of the best-known objects in the Queensland State collection, Mephisto has been the subject of significant research and conservation work by Queensland Museum.  Archaeological investigations into the tank’s unique battle scars have provided important insight into the events of WW1 frontline battle.  This very special tank certainly has many stories to tell!

Join us

Join us for this fascinating talk which will take place in the Abbey Hall on Saturday afternoon (2pm – 4pm), 10th August 2019.
Tickets are $10 for Members, $15 Non-Members and include a delicious afternoon tea!
Buy your tickets here: https://abbeymuseum.com.au/events/mephisto-the-greatest-queensland-war-trophy/