TO THE EDITOR OF THE HERALD.
Sir,-It was with considerable interest that I read in to-day's "Sydney Morning Herald" a short reference to a claim by an Austrian officer to have conceived the idea of a military tank in the year 1911, and particularly to the reference concerning the design which Corporal de Mole, of the Australian Forces, submitted to the War Office in 1912.
The item is of particular interest to myself, as in the year 1919 I happened to be legal adviser with the Patents, Rewards, and Royal- ties Section of the War Office, and Corporal de Mole's claim for recognition came before me for consideration The original design sub- mitted by Corporal de Mole to the War Office in 1912 was eventually unearthed from the War Office archives, and produced for my in- spection, and I also had the pleasure of meet- ing Corporal de Mole personally when he showed to me, if I remember rightly, a wooden model of his tank. Unfortunately for the Allies, there is no doubt that Corporal de Mole's design had been completely forgotten by the authorities, and that the tank as it was eventually evolved was not in any way de- rived from Corporal de Mole's design.
I think I am on safe ground in making this statement, as I happened to be not only secre- tary to the Royal Commission which was created by the British Government to inquire into the numerous claims for the invention of the tanks, and which sat for many months under the chairmanship of Lord Moulton, but I also prepared the Crown case in the sub- sequent heavy litigation which took place when the whole question of the invention of the tanks was determined in a test case, and therefore had opportunities given to few people of knowing all the facts in connection with the invention of the tanks
Although Corporal de Mole's design was imperfect in form, and could not be described as a completed invention, many technical experts expressed the opinion that had its existence been known to those who were engaged on the experiments which were sanctioned by Mr Churchill in January, 1915, the design might have served as a very useful nucleus which might have saved much costly experimentation and delay, and perhaps a more perfect machine than the original Mark IV tank might have been evolved.
I think it is only right that this informa- tion should be made public after so many years, as it is possible that the news item in ques- tion might give the impression that Corporal de Mole's extraordinarily prophetic design had been adopted by the British Government, and that his efforts had not been rewarded. But although the authorities were satisfied that the tanks were not evolved from Corporal de Mole's design, they were so impressed with his foresight that a substantial ex gratia pay- ment was made to him as recognition for his ingenuity and to cover all expenses which he had been put to in connection with the design.
I am, etc.,
G. MOORE WILLIAMS. 74 Pitt-street, June 12.