HC Deb 18 October 1916 vol 86 cc521-2
1. Captain BURGOYNE

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether the idea of the armoured cars known as tanks originated with the Royal Naval Air Service; and whether he will give the names of the officers mainly responsible for their conception and for bringing them, in the first place, to the notice of the Third Sea Lord, and through him to the Director of Naval Construction?


There is no doubt that the idea of employing armoured cars for trench warfare occurred independently to several people, and all that the Admiralty can do is to state what appears in the Admiralty official records. According to these, the idea was suggested to officers of the Royal Naval Air Service by their experience of the naval armoured cars in Flanders in the early days of the War. After various experiments by the officers of the Royal Naval Air Service, my right hon. Friend (the late First Lord) instructed Mr. D'Eyncourt, the Director of Naval Construction, to undertake the design of a "Tank" or landship, capable of carrying out certain definite performances.

The officers of the Air Department at the Admiralty primarily concerned were Commodore Sueter, Wing Commander W. Briggs, and Squadron Commander T. G. Hetherington. While the principal credit for the design of the "Tanks" now being employed at the front rests with Mr. D'Eyncourt, the latter has mentioned the following gentlemen as rendering him valuable assistance:

  • Mr. W. O. Tritton, Managing Director of Messrs. W. Foster and Company, Limited.
  • Lieutenant D. G. Wilson, R.N.A.S. (now Major Wilson, M.G.C.).
  • Mr. P. Dale Bussell, Contract Department, Admiralty.
  • Lieutenant A. G. Stern, R.N.A.S. (now Lt.-Col. Stern, M.G.C.).
  • Captain Symes, M.G.C.
  • Mr. F. Skeens, Acting Assistant Constructor.

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