Local parish councillor Mark Fearn and ex-mayor Andy Langdon splashed out £950 on the 7.8-ton Scimitar for the stunt. But residents attending the service in Bollington, Cheshire, were left looking on aghast as the tank rolled into the memorial gates, smashing them to pieces.
Fearn has admitted he caused the accident – and that the debacle has left him feeling a “bit embarrassed to say the least”.
But the Royal British Legion (RBL) were less than impressed and said the membership team had launched an investigation into the stunt it deemed “entirely inappropriate”.
One villager told Manchester Evening News: “You couldn’t have written it – it was like something out of Dad’s Army’.
“Residents had been told there was a surprise and we had been guessing all week what it would be. Suddenly I was told it had demolished the gates to the memorial garden.”
According to another villager, the vehicle was parked close to the entrance to the memorial gardens before it rolled into the stone and metal gates.
She said: “They were waving and laughing as they drove through the village.
“When they parked, I think they left the handbrake off and it went crashing into the gatepost of the memorial garden.
“Or they could have put it in reverse, I’m not sure what happened.”
On a post made in the community Facebook group, Fearn confessed “It was me” when someone asked if Andy Langdon had caused the disaster.
He later added: “Oops. A bit embarrassed to say the least” and “I will be making a personal donation to RBL.”
Pictures show how the gate was dragged from its frame and it is thought several concrete blocks were knocked from the stone gatepost.
Kind locals stepped in that same day to repair the damages.
A Facebook comment from Fearn last night told how he had also worked alongside the team “to make good the damage I have caused.”
He commented: “Repair work is now almost completed and actually looks better than before it was knocked down.”
Despite the incident, some applauded the gesture.
One commented on Facebook saying: “Accidents happen, and with the goodwill of a generous community, it is being rectified.
“Great idea having an ex operational vehicle in attendance in the first place.”
But others were frustrated at the scene – with one villager saying: “I think it was in poor taste.
“Apparently they didn’t get permission in the first place.
“They should have known better but I think it was done to make themselves look good.”
A spokesperson for the RBL said: “We are aware of an incident in Bollington on Armistice Day and our Membership team are currently investigating.
“We were not aware beforehand that this vehicle would be used on Thursday, and it is entirely inappropriate.”
Andy Langdon declined to comment. Mark Fearn could not be reached for comment.