Tank on the Beach
Broken Down and Abandoned or used for Target Pratice?

I love planning our days out in England and often resort to Google Maps to look for quirky things to see and explore. This time, our adventure started with a day out in Lincolnshire as we had to travel to the historic market town Boston to collect a car. While it was the middle of November, the weather was on our side with light winds and sunshine predicted for the whole day. As a treat, we decided to visit the coast for a walk along the beach and a fish and chip lunch. We picked the seaside resort of Mablethorpe, but as I pored over the map I found, just a few miles away, “Tank on the Beach”, and it immediately drew my attention!

Naturally, I started searching the internet to find out why a was a tank had been left on a remote beach in a nature reserve.

It turns out that the tank is a Comet I A34 and they were used by the British Army from near the end of World War II until 1958. Who left this tank on the beach is a mystery, but there are suggestions that it broke down during a training exercise and was never recovered. Alternatively, it was placed on the beach by the RAF and used for target practice.

That latter idea isn't as outlandish as it sounds. The RAF also used the Steam Ship Sheraton for target practice and that was moored off the Lincolnshire coast until it broke its anchors in a storm and landed below the colourful stripy cliffs of Hunstanton.

The Tank on the Beach Near Mablethorpe in Lincolnshire

The Sad Remains of a Comet Tank near Mablethorpe © essentially-england.comThe Sad Remains of a Comet Tank near Mablethorpe © essentially-england.com

By the time we'd had lunch and walked along the beach at Mablethorpe the sun was starting to set. It was a short six mile drive up to the Churchill Lane Carpark that serves the Saltfleetby-Theddlethorpe Dunes National Nature Reserve to start the ten-minute walk through the dunes to the tank on the beach. Use the postcode LN12 1PQ to help navigation to the carpark.

The walk is easy to follow but was a bit muddy after all the recent rain. If it's dry and you're not there when it's about to grow dark, you can easily extend your walk to take in the Nature Reserve.

The Comet Tank in Saltfleetby-Theddlethorpe Dunes National Nature Reserve © essentially-england.comThe Comet Tank in Saltfleetby-Theddlethorpe Dunes National Nature Reserve © essentially-england.com

I’m not sure if the sea washes over the tank on the beach at high tide, but in this lonely environment the Comet Tank is certainly showing signs of wear. Its great that you can walk right up to the tank and look inside to see what is left. My first impressions were that the tank looked a lot smaller than I imagined it would be. I was also so surprised to see parts of the engine just sitting there corroding away!

Inside of a Derelict Comet Tank © essentially-england.comInside of a Derelict Comet Tank © essentially-england.com

Even looking in through the turret opening the space looked very tight. I really couldn’t see how this machine could be crewed by five people and thought of the brave soldiers who raced around in these things whilst being fired upon. The atmosphere was very moving as the day slipped into darkness!

Looking Inside of The Tank on the Beach © essentially-england.comLooking Inside of The Tank on the Beach © essentially-engand.com

The Comet 1 A34 Tank

Now this is what a Comet Tank should look like!

It was powered by a V12 Rolls Royce Meteor petrol engine and had a 77mm gun and two machine guns. The tank was 3 metres wide, 2.7 metres tall, 7.7 metres long, and weighed nearly 33 tonnes, a far cry from the sad sight we see rusting away today!

The Comet Tank © Oktober64 | depositphotos.comThe Comet Tank © Oktober64 | depositphotos.com

I’m sure there are plenty like me who would love to come and discover this remarkable machine and try to imagine the stories it could tell. It’s only a short walk from the carpark and I feel that its remote location makes it even more exciting. It was certainly very eerie in the near darkness!

When we visited it was almost dark, so if you would like to see daylight photos and drone footage why not have a look at this YouTube video.

This isn’t the first tank on a beach that we’ve come across on our travels around England. Down in Devon we found an American Sherman tank that had been recovered from the sea and is part of a war memorial along Slapton Sands. I wonder how many more of these amazing, armoured machines are scattered across England…

Places to Stay

There is plenty of choice of holiday accommodation in Lincolnshire from camping and caravan parks, holiday cottages, and luxury hotels. When we stayed in Lincolnshire we stayed in the very peaceful and comfortable Pheasant Cottage near Alford. It was an ideal location to explore most areas of the county.

Poplar Farm
Sleeps 8

Apple Tree Cottage
Sleeps 4

Pheasant Cottage
Sleeps 4

Along the coast you’ll find holiday parks galore, with the Haven Golden Sands site in Mablethorpe just a few miles away from the tank on the beach.

For even more choice, why not try our Booking.com search box.


For more England days out return from our Tank on the Beach page to the England homepage.