THE first use of the tank in warfare took place in 1917 and on Saturday, local regiments saluted the Army’s metal warhorse with a special parade.

The event was a formal amalgamation of the 1st and 2nd Royal Tank Regiments to form the Royal Tank Regiment (RTR), which is based at Tidworth.

Hundreds of family and friends and former RTR personnel watched the event, which was attended by Lieutenant General Chris Deverell MBE, Colonel Commandant of the Royal Tank Regiment.

Highlights of the parade were a working model of a First World War MK IV tank from the film War Horse and a dramatic smoke-filled dash across open ground on to the parade square by five Challenger 2s.

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Cowey MBE, 41, Commanding Officer of the RTR said: “It’s a day of both sadness and happiness of course, and as General Deverell said it’s partly about looking back and commemorating the history of all the antecedent regiments, but more than that it’s about looking forward.

“So my main emotion today is about celebrating the Royal Tank Regiment and the huge honour that we will, as the sole remaining tank regiment, take forward the good name of the Royal Tank Regiment into the future.”

The RTR will be part of 1 Armoured Infantry Brigade and 8 Engineer Brigade.

Squadrons are now training for exercises in Canada and Jordan in 2015 and taking on the role of the UK’s High Readiness Forces later that year.

The Royal Tank Regiment is the oldest tank unit in the world. Since the first time tanks were used in the First World War, the RTR in its different guises has provided Mounted Close Combat excellence to the British Army.

Formed from the Heavy Branch Machine Gun Corps, tanks were first used successfully at the Battle of Cambrai in November 1917, an event which the Regiment still celebrates annually.

From here the Regiment went from strength to strength, and has been awarded numerous battle honours in recognition of the struggle, triumph and achievement that resulted.

In recent history 1 RTR and 2 RTR have both seen action in Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan in a number of varied and challenging roles.

1 RTR also formed the backbone of the Joint Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Regiment, along with elements of the RAF Regiment for 13 years, before handing this complete to Air Command in late 2012.