Tank terror is that moment when the infantryman realises he can't do anything to hurt the steel monster clanking towards him filled with malice and doom, and it's heading right towards him. At that point he gets up and runs. The term was coined during the Blitzkrieg in 1940 that conquered France. But on one occasion the markings on the tanks weren't German crosses, but the white squares of the BEF.
As the Germans pushed their armoured spearhead into France the Allies laid plans for a large counter attack on the southern shoulder of the penetration. It was decided to try to support that attack with a push from the north with whatever forces could be spared. To this end the 5th Infantry and 50th Northumbrian Division along with the 1st Army Tank Brigade were dispatched to the Arras sector. When the units began to trickle into their staging area near Vimy Ridge, they found the area thinly held, with a French armoured unit to the east of Arras. Much of the infantry force were diverted to hold the line, this did however free up sixty S-35 tanks to take part in the attack. With these forces in place an attempt was made to plan the attack on the 20th of May, however things were hampered simply by not knowing what forces would be available.
Those of you who are paying attention will realise that this is Blitzkrieg, which according to many writers and commentators the British didn't know how to do or had ignored the development of. So I think we can safely put that popular myth to bed.
Each column would consist of a regiment of tanks, rebalanced so both regiments had equal numbers of Matilda Seniors (seven each), a battalion of infantry and a single battery each of two pounder anti-tank guns and 18 pounder artillery. The remainder of the infantry forces were to be held in reserve. Meanwhile the French tanks would push up on the flank of the right hand column.
The defensive mindset of the French up until that part of the war was shown when moving up to the start line. It was found that the Germans actually held positions on the British side of the start line which had needed to be cleared out first. However despite this the tanks still rolled across the start line at 1400 as planned.
Part Two can be found here.
Talking about the sources can be found here.