Letter to Churchill

On February 14, 1916, D’Eyncourt wrote to Lieutenant Colonel Winston Churchill who by this stage was commanding the 6th Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers in France.

Dear Colonel Churchill,

It is with great pleasure that I am now able to report to you the success of the first landship (Tanks we call them).  The War Office have ordered one hundred to the pattern which underwent most successful trials recently.  Sir D Haig sent some of his staff from the front.  Lord Kitchener and Robertson also came, and members of the Admiralty Board. The machine was complete in almost every detail and fulfils all the requirements finally given me by the War Office. The official tests of trenches etc, were nothing to it, and finally we showed them how it could cross a 9 ft gap after climbing a 4 ft. 6 in. high perpendicular parapet.  Wire entanglements it goes through like a rhinoceros through a field of corn. It carries two 6-pounder guns in sponsons (a naval touch), and about 300 rounds; also smaller machine-guns, and is proof against machine-gun fire.  It can be conveyed by rail (the sponsons and guns take off, making it lighter) and be ready for action very quickly. The King came 1 and saw it and was greatly struck by its performance, as was every one else ; in fact, they were all astonished.  It is capable of great development, but to get a sufficient number in time, I strongly urge ordering immediately a good many to the pattern which we know all about.  As you are aware, it has taken much time and trouble to get the thing perfect, and a practical machine simple to make; we tried various types and did much experimental work.  I am sorry it has taken so long, but pioneer work always takes time and no avoidable delay has taken place, though I begged them to order ten for training purposes two months ago.  After losing the advantage of your influence I had some difficulty in steering the scheme past the rocks of opposition and the more insidious shoals of apathy which are frequented by red herrings, which cross the main line of progress at frequent intervals.

The great thing now is to keep the whole matter secret and produce the machines altogether as a complete surprise. I have already put the manufacture in hand, under the segis of the Minister of Munitions, who is very keen; the Admiralty is also allowing me to continue to carry on with the same Committee, but Stern is now Chairman.

I enclose photo. In appearance, it looks rather like a great antediluvian monster, especially when it comes out of boggy ground, which it traverses easily. The wheels behind form a rudder for steering a curve, and also ease the shock over banks, etc, but are not absolutely necessary, as it can steer and turn in its own length with the independent tracks.

In conclusion, allow me to offer you my congratulations on the success of your original project and wish you all good luck in your work at the front.

E H T d’Eyncourt

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