Saturday September 7 at 11 am the Zeppelin Museum received an exciting new exhibit: A former Danish Army Sherman tank was moved from the Army Exercise area to a new location in front of the museum. However the Sherman tank is more than an eye-catcher. The event also marks a new era for the museum. In 2003 the days of the Danish Army in Tønder will be over as the Tønder Barracks are closed down due to budget cuts and reorganisation of the Army. Since the Zeppelin Museum already has an exhibition about the Danish Army in Tønder covering 1920 until 1945, the addition of the story about the modern day Army is only a natural step towards the museums aim of covering the entire military history of Tønder in the 20th Century.
The Sherman tank was lifted off the ground at its old location and placed on a large truck at around 9 am. The vehicles arrived at the museum at 9.30 am and the staff from SKAK Specialtransport immediately began preparing the crane for lifting the tank once again. The Sherman had proven to be slightly lighter than expected. Instead of the 38-40 tonnes originally anticipated, the tank “only” weighed 32 tonnes. However with a crane capable of lifting 200 tonnes that didn't matter in any way!
When the crane was secured and the cables attached to the tank’s lifting hooks, one could only wait for the guests to show up at around 11 am.
The local TV station, TV-Syd, covered the whole event and the story featured in both of their news broadcasts the same evening.
Precisely at 11 am the Sherman was lifted over the fence of the museum. After only 5 minutes the tank was put down at its new location.
The commander of the barracks in Tønder Major S.P. Sørensen officially made over the tank to the museum. In his speach he ensured the wholehearted support of the barracks to the new project at the museum.
The Sherman tank and parts from a 40 mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun are the most visible and tangible exhibits from the barracks in Tønder. But the main part of the story of the Tønder garrison is actually about something far more advanced and stealthy.
The Danish Army Signal Corps masters of communication and electronic warfare is the part of the Army who has resided at the barracks for the longest time. The Zeppelin Museum will eventually also cover their story hopefully with the help of present and former personnel of the barracks.
The chairman of the museum Manfred Petersen, expressed his gratitude towards the Army for the gift and also towards the two companies who sponsored the event: SKAK Specialtransport who provided the manpower and machinery, and the local bank Tønder Bank, who made the relocation of the tank financially possible. Manfred Petersen also spoke highly of Gerd Uwe Christiansen from the museum who had put a lot of work and time into the preparation of the event. Finally he expressed his relief of the fact that it was no longer a problem for people passing by to spot the museum.
When the tank was in place the crane was extended to its full height of 58 m together with a giant national flag with an area of 120 square metres. That way nobody in Tønder would doubt that something special was taking place at the museum. All day there was free entrance to the museum. Around 250 visitors used the opportunity to see the museum and the old military vehicles on display outside.
Dansk Militærhistorisk Køretøjs-Forening (Danish Military History Vehicles Association) displayed two VW Kübelwagen, three Jeeps and one Landrover. René Bunk from Tønder brought a Dodge truck and a Landrover fire engine to the lineup.
Zeppelin Museum Tønder would like to thank everybody who helped make this event possible: The Army for the literally large gift, our sponsors Tønder Bank and SKAK Specialtransport, the members of Dansk Militærhistorisk Køretøjs-Forening and René Bunk for their fine display of military vehicles and not least the members of the museum who have worked hard to make this day possible. We would also like to thank family members of the staff who helped during the day.
The chairman of the museum, Manfred Petersen is interviewed by local TV.
Sherman is lifted to its new location.
The youngest crane "co-driver" in Denmark supervises the progress.
Major S.P. Sørensen of the Tønder Barracks makes over the Sherman tank to the museum.