"Dinnaken House" - Historical Context

The name"Dinnaken House" has a solid historical foundation. On the 15th of September 1916, the first day of the Battle of Flers ~ Courcelette (and the first day that "Tanks" ever went into action) the Officer pictured on the right, Stuart Henderson Hastie, from Edinburgh, took his tank "D17" at the head of the advance down Flers High Street , reaching the village green where the 41st Division Memorial is now situated. At that point, under heavy enemy bombardment and with the supporting infantry falling back, he turned round and returned back towards Longueval, passing straight past the front wall of what is now Dinnaken House. Hastie and his crews' actions led to one of the memorable signals of the day, "A tank is walking up the High Street of Flers, with the British Army cheering behind"

Stuart Henderson Hastie was born at No 6 North Merchiston Avenue, Edinburgh, on the 7th of September 1889. He was the son of Thomas Hastie, a Tool Manufacturers Assistant, and Flora Jane Blair Hastie, nee Henderson.
Educated at George Heriots School, Edinburgh, and Edinburgh University, he had served for four years in Edinburgh University Officers Training Corps. He applied for a commission 22/3/15, his preference noted as 4th Battalion Highland Light Infantry.

He was medically examined 23/3/15 and recorded as, height 6 ft 11⁄2 inches; chest 331⁄2 - 38 inches; weight 1491⁄2 pounds. Hearing and teeth "good", vision 6/6 both eyes. His permanent and correspondence address was 12 Queen's Avenue, Blackhall, Midlothian.

His actions at Flers on September 15th 1916 led to his being awarded the Military Cross (London Gazette 14/11/16), and by the end of the War he had attained the rank of Acting Major. In the King's Birthday Honours List of June 1919 he was appointed Officer, Most Excellent Order of The British Empire. The photograph shows Hastie in his Machine Gun Corps uniform (Heavy Branch, - "Tanks") but at the time of the Flers action he was still formally serving with his original regiment, the Highland Light Infantry (the "Glesga Keelies"). His Scottish roots and regimental attachment are almost certainly the reason why Hastie came up with such a seemingly incomprehensible name for "D17", he christened it "Dinnaken". (All "D" Company Tanks which had been "christened" had names beginning "D", for example there were Dolphin, Dolly, Die Hard, Delilah, Daredevil [1&2], and Dracula).

Hastie has taken a bit of a liberty with accepted spellings, but essentially, dinna(e) means "dont" and ken means to know or understand, so Dinnaken means - "dont know"


 

D17 "Dinnaken" ditched at the "Rideau des Filoires", just north of Delville Wood. This is as she was left by Hastie and his crew on September 15th 1916. The "D17" marking is immediately below the soldier (who is using a field telephone) reclining on the front of the track.

Until she was recovered D17 was used by various Infantry Brigades as a HQ during the continued fighting north of Flers. Note that the Hotchkiss 6 pounder guns have been removed.

".. Will be recommending this place to all my members! Absolutely fantastic, and so vitally central to a visit to The Somme.. "
P T, Oxton, Birkenhead. Merseyside & North Wales Branch WFA
"Fantastic to look over the Somme area from a good "base camp"
P & NH, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
       
   

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