June 21, 1934
A campus landmark, the “French tank,” a gift in 1920 from the French government commemorating the service of Vassar women in France during and after World War I, was dismantled and removed. Faded, rusting and gradually sinking into the ground, the once-proud 40-ton Saint-Charmond tank had become a campus hazard.
In its final battle, the armed vehicle proved resourceful. When its fuel tanks were dismantled—wisely, without the use of an acetylene torch—one was found to contain several gallons of benzine. And a workman was frightened but not injured when, chiseling at the tank’s body, he discharged a shell cap, which had lain in a crevice since 1916.
In the fall, student and faculty opinion about the tank’s fate was sharply divided. Peace advocates felt a worrisome symbol had been removed; others—many in the French department—thought it a gesture of ingratitude to the givers and those the tank honored. The freshmen were, The New York Times reported, “indifferent.”