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Letter regarding Lance de Mole's invention of a 'travelling caterpillar fort' or armoured tank
Title : Letter regarding Lance de Mole's invention of a 'travelling caterpillar fort' or armoured tank Letter regarding Lance de Mole's invention of a 'travelling caterpillar fort' or armoured tank
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Source : PRG 1319/1/1
Date of creation : 1914
Format : Letter
Catalogue record
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Description :

Letter written on the 19 September 1914 by G.W.D. Breadon, Perth, Western Australia, to the Minister for War, London, recommending that he consider the plans and specifications for a 'travelling caterpillar fort' (or armoured tank) devised by Mr. Lance de Mole (a South Australian), for use against the German forces.

Lance de Mole was born in Kent Town, South Australia, on 13 March 1880, son of William F. de Mole, civil engineer and surveyor, and Emily, nee Moulden. In 1885 family moved to Melbourne. In 1897 he went to Western Australia to do survey work with his father.

Interested in inventions, by 1900 and in 1912 Lance de Mole had designed an armoured vehicle with a chain-track tractor movement which he submitted to British War Office. It went unnoticed, as did another attempt in 1915. He enlisted in 10th Battalion in 1917 and took a model of tank to London where it was ignored. He was unsuccessful in obtaining official recognition for his design, although he was paid 987 by the British Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors to cover his expenses.

De Mole was appointed Commander of the British Empire in 1920. In 1921 he joined the Sydney Water Board as an engineer. He died in Sydney in 1950.

Period : 1914-1918
Further reading :

Kirby, John 'Adelaide inventor was on the track to victory' Sunday mail, 10 August 1980, p. 42-43, 45

Fatchen, Max 'S.A. inventor of first tank was unlucky' Advertiser, 7 November 1964, p. 25

Chris Coulthard-Clark 'Corporal L. E. de Mole: Australian inventor' Sabretache: the journal of the Military Collectors Society of Australia February 1979, pp 54 -57

Wright, Ken Wartime: official magazine of the Australian War Memorial, issue 19, October 2002, pp. 28-31

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