A ‘Russian General’ Visits

On 26 July 1916 the officers and men training at Elveden were warned of a short-notice visit due later that day by a Russian General.  It was a lie; the Russian General was in fact His Majesty The King.

The demo put on for His Majesty was smaller than the one the previous week, only 5 tanks took part, but his brief visit included a ride in a tank driven by Gunner Robert Tate.

The Chief of the Imperial General Staff Visits Elveden



General Sir William Robertson CIGS, the only soldier in history to rise from the rank of Private to Field Marshal, visited Elveden on 20 July 1916. He was accompanied by Mr David Lloyd George who by this stage was Secretary of State for War and Minister of Munitions. He thus had an interest in the use of tanks as a method of breakthrough but also a concern about the UK’s industrial capacity.

The VIPs dined with Lord Iveagh, the landowner, that night. After dinner they retired to the billiard room and told Lord Iveagh all about tanks and the plan to use them on the Somme.

On 21 July the group watched a staged battle on the training area in which 25 tanks supported by infantry took part.