'A tank breaking through the wire at Cambrai', France, World War I, c1917-c1918. The British were the first to use tanks (or Landships as they were originally described) in the First World War. They were first deployed in September 1916 during the Somme campaign. The first really successful use of tanks occurred in the early stages of the Battle of Cambrai in 1917 when they broke through the German defences on the Hindenburg Line. Unfortunately the potentially decisive breakthrough was not exploited. From a box set of stereoscopic cards titled 'The Great War'.