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SWINTON, Ernest D.

Eyewitness; Being Personal Reminiscences of Certain Phases of the Great War, including the Genesis of the Tank.

London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1932 Stock Code: 116838
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First edition, first impression. Presentation copy, inscribed by the author on the front free endpaper "To Stephen Foot in memory of 1914-18 from the author E. D. Swinton Feb. 1939". Swinton (1868-1951) was appointed by Kitchener in September 1914 as the official war correspondent for the British Army, under the pseudonym "Eyewitness". Swinton claims in this work to have sparked the creation of the tank; "Swinton's claim to be the originator of the tank is problematic, however... Swinton made no contribution to overcoming technical problems in the development of the tank, although he provided early plans for how caterpillar tractors might be employed... and coined the euphemism 'tank'" (ODNB). He accepted the role of colonel-commandant of the Royal Tank Corps in 1934.

The recipient, Major Stephen Foot (1887-1966), served for three years on the Western Front in the Great War as one of the Reserve of Officers with the Royal Engineers at the Somme, then transferred as a Brigade-Major to the 2nd Tank Brigade, where "my own job was to follow up the tanks and find out from the infantry what they really thought about the way the tanks did their job". In January 1918, during a period of leave in England, he transferred to a staff post in the Tank Directorate at the War Office, writing a paper on A Mobile Army in April 1918, which advocated replacing horses with mechanised caterpillar tractors, which he reprinted in his autobiography Three Lives, published in 1934.

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Octavo. Original black cloth, titles gilt to the spine, narrow enamelled bands in the Tank Corps colours of brown, red and green to head and tail of the spine and front cover, illustrated maps to pastedowns.


Portrait frontispiece, 9 plates and folding diagram.


Minor rubbing to spine ends, top edge dust toned; an excellent, bright copy.


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