IT’S one of Scotland’s best-known news images from the earliest decades of the 20th century.

A tank is pictured trundling down a Glasgow street in 1919 to restore order during what the Scottish Secretary described as a “Bolshevik rising”.

Except that it doesn’t.

Research, confirmed by The Herald, suggests the photograph, which depicts the tank surrounded by soldiers and large numbers of Glaswegians on the Trongate, was actually taken a year earlier, in mid-January 1918.

The ‘Julian’ tank, number 113, was the focal point of a huge week-long effort in Glasgow to sell National War Bonds and War Savings Certificates to fund the war effort. In the event, more than £14 million was raised in the city.

Over recent years, however, media outlets including The Herald have used the photograph and suggested that it was taken in January 1919, the tank being part of a military response to quell unrest.

It is understood that the reverse of the original photograph, taken for The Bulletin newspaper and long held in The Herald picture archives at the Mitchell Library, has two handwritten notations saying ‘1919’. The Herald has now seen The Bulletin for January 15, 1918, which contains the original image.

Among those who have pointed out the wrong date are the Scottish blog, A Thousand Flowers, and the Edinburgh-based defence archaeologist and author, Gordon Barclay.

Dr Barclay says the photograph is one of many misconceptions that have grown up around the?‘Red Clydeside’ events of 1919.

The Thousand Flowers blog asserts that the photograph has been used in a 1919 context by broadcasters and other newspapers and also as a Twitter meme.

Under pressure from the Clyde Workers’ Committee, a general strike in pursuit of a 40-hour working week was called for January 27, 1919.

According to the TUC website, the strike spread from Glasgow to other Scottish cities, involving over 70,000 workers.

The Glasgow episode is notorious for ‘Bloody Friday’, when strikers clashed with police in George Square on January 31 amid “unprecedented scenes of violence and bloodshed” in the words of the Glasgow Herald.

The red flag was also flown in the square.

Further trouble was reported at Glasgow Green and the Saltmarket.

That night and over the weekend, armed soldiers from Scottish and English regiments were posted at electricity stations, rail stations and bridges, tram depots and gas works.

Tanks were sent into the city on the Monday to reinforce the message that order had to be restored.

Dr Barclay, who hopes to publish a detailed account of the military intervention this year, said: “The image has been used repeatedly supposedly to show a tank in the rioting crowd in 1919.

"The Herald’s detective work has, however, finally proved it to be of a ‘Tank Week’ parade in Glasgow a year before ‘Bloody Friday’.

"I think somebody at some point, who didn’t know very much about what happened, made a mistake and labelled the photograph as ‘1919’.

"I’m sure it wasn’t deliberate.”

“There are many other ‘myths’ surrounding the events of 1919, including that all the troops were English – actually, the Seaforth and Gordon Highlanders formed part of the force – and that the army fought with or even opened fire on the rioters. The riot was over before the soldiers arrived. They only guarded important places.”

During Tank Week the ‘Julian’ tank in George Square attracted considerable interest.

The city’s £14 million figure surpassed sums raised in other cities, including Birmingham’s £6.7m and Edinburgh’s £4.7 million.

The Glasgow Herald of Tuesday, February 4, 1919, reported that the “military occupancy of the city” now extended to the arrival of a number of tanks, on Monday 3 February.

It said: “The city is already familiar with the tank as a means of advertising War Loan stock but the presence of this latest arm of warfare has an entirely new and awe-inspiring aspect.

The passage of the tanks through an eastern portion of the city to their improvised headquarters occasioned great interest and considerable speculation.”

Christine McGilly, of the Media Resources team at the Mitchell Library, said she had seen the 1918 Bulletin and that the date on Herald images of the tank has now been amended.