Ace the Australian Matilda Powers Away



last year I wrote an article about a group of middle-aged man (from mid 60s to early 70s) that took a rather odd pensioner hobby. These lads -and former soldiers- despite their bad knees would crawl into the carcass of a 71-year-old Matilda nicknamed “Ace” and stopping only for doctor consults.

Interestingly enough, Ace was the first Australian tank onshore in the battle that seized Balikpapan, Borneo, from the Japanese in the last days of World War II in July 1945.
After the war, from the 50 tanks that composed the armored regiment, only 3 weren’t destroyed, also with nobody that had worked on the Matilda tanks still alive they got reduced to a manual found in a workshop that said “reassemble in reverse order,” if was only that easy.

In 1997, museum volunteers found this Matilda in water and full of vegetation near Moss Vale, they mistakenly called it “ACED” but after getting its serial number they were able to get a hold and contact Les Betts, a WW2 veteran that made part of the tank crew, after picking himself off the floor, Betts said “That’s the tank I drove in July 1945, and it just so happens to be the first tank that actually came off the landing craft. And what you thought was a D was a playing card, the ace of spades.”

MR. Les Betts died soon afterwards.

I’m glad to tell you that an year later, “ACE” is finally complete, what a beauty:

See also: Testing the Matilda Part 2 and why we need an Australian Matilda

13 comments on “Ace the Australian Matilda Powers Away

  1. DecoNoir says:

    Thats some awesome work, never underestimate older gents with time and determination! Hope they keep the little beastie up and running for a long time yet.

  2. Really feeling the Aussie pride here. Glad to see that our armoured division, while nothing spectacular, is getting some recognition for the few tanks we built/modified. Thanks Rita!

  3. TDMIllard says:

    Very nice!! Definitely deserves some extra shrimp on the barbie

  4. killswitch95 says:

    well if they can put in the Fury and Rudy… Ill take an “ACE”… could always use another Matilda…

  5. gpc_4 says:

    Moves for the first time in 60 years!!!
    …immediately gets one shot by arty.

  6. Thunderbolt747 says:

    very nice tank. I love the Matilda, and the Aussie Matilda? that thing is even more cool. I’m glad to see one of the last surviving WWII Aussie tanks has been brought back to life. BTW rita “I’m glad to tell you that an year later, “ACE” is finally complete, what a beauty:” its a year later. :0. By the way how is chew?

  7. Hedgehog1963 says:

    IF WG were smart they’d make “Ace” a premium vehicle the way they did with “Ajax” the Cromwell B. They could then sponsor this restored beauty.

  8. moogleslam says:

    Watched this video while going hill on Malinovka in my Matilda. Got about half way before the video finished. What to watch now…..

  9. scotth says:

    This is awesome; thanks for posting it.

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