Churchill Great Eastern Ramp

All the following photographs have been kindly contributed by Bob Grimster and are of the Churchill Great Eastern Ramp which is part of the Canadian War Museum collection, Vimy House.

The Churchill Great Eastern was a ramp tank designed to overcome much greater obstacles (both horizontal and vertical) than could be bridged by the ARK. The tank carried a long ramp which sloped upwards from rear to a height of some 20 feet at the front. A second 'flying' ramp was hinged to the first at the front and was stowed folded back a top the lower ramp. Hinged to the rear of the lower ramp was a third short ramp that reached the ground. This would usually be held raised at a near 45 degree angle whilst stowed. The Great Eastern was deployed by first driving a close a possible to the obstacle, then the upper ramp was propelled upwards and over by two groups of 3" rockets. The Great Eastern could provide a span of some 60 feet being able to cross a 12' high 5' wide wall.

Development of the Great Eastern was by MD1 and experimental establishment headed by Colonel Millis Jefferis. The prototype was built on a Churchill MkI hull and when initial trials were successful a further 10 vehicles were built using Churchill MkIV chassis with the heavier MkVII suspension units fitted to take the 48 ton weight. Two vehicles were delivered to the 79th Armoured Division in early 1945 but they were never used in action.

The Great Eastern at Vimy House has the ramp in the stowed state and is missing the support brackets which when operational would mount the ramp at an angle from rear to back. The rear ramp has been detached from it's hinges and laid flat on top of the 'flying' ramp.

The holes in the ramp support superstructure show where the front support brackets were mounted. The projecting 'sprag' would be dropped so that it was vertical and touched the ground thereby providing more stability to the vehicles hull. The sprag girder is stamped "Dorman Long & Co.", whilst the ramp girders above are stamped "Earl of Dudey"


The 'sprag' hinges located on either side of the hull and the attachments below (one visible on left handside) onto which the sprag 'clipped' itself when dropped.

Looking down on the 'sprag' the locating 'clips' are clearly visible .

The attachment to the hull to the right of the door is where the rear superstructure suport bracket would have been attached. The holed plate abovie shows the corresponding attachment point on the superstrucure itself.

The Girder markings read "Earl of Dudly - Steel BSG 111"

The Girder markings read "Appleby Frodingham"