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STERN, Sir Albert G.

Tanks 1914-1918.

The Log Book of a Pioneer.

London: Hodder and Stoughton. 1919 Stock Code: 139789
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First edition, first impression, presentation copy from the author, inscribed on the front free endpaper, "To my friend A. Geddes from Albert G. Stern, Nov. 1919". Stern's book was praised highly by Cyril Falls, "several important books have been written on tanks, but this work of Sir Albert Stern's is unlikely to be superseded in its own class".

An excellent provenance: the recipient was almost certainly Sir Auckland Geddes (1879-1954), first Baron Geddes, politician and businessman, who, despite severe problems of sight (he suffered haemorrhages in both eyes at birth) saw service with the Highland Light Infantry in the South African War (1901), his unit being converted to mounted infantry. At the outbreak of war in 1914 he joined the Northumberland Fusiliers but following an accident was rendered unfit for general service. "However, he was passed fit for staff duties and he was posted to British general headquarters, France, where he rose to assistant adjutant-general with the rank of lieutenant-colonel efficiently mastering the procedures of manpower supply and its deployment on the western front" (ODNB). In August 1917 Geddes became minister of national service with responsibility for military recruiting and the retention of skilled men in vital war industries. "During 191718 Geddes refined the schedules of protected occupations, judiciously regulating the release of young men for the army while ensuring that priority was given to the labour needs of merchant shipbuilding and munitions output. On 14 January 1918 he criticized the 'thoughtless waste of life' resulting from British military plans" (ibid.). Interestingly, in 1918 Stern had found himself in opposition to Auckland's brother Sir Eric Geddes, First Lord of the Admiralty, over the allocation of steel; Sir Eric, naturally, favouring its use for the Navy (see Michael Foley, Rise of the Tank: Armoured Vehicles and their use in the First World War, 2014).

"It is mainly an account of the beginnings: the germ, the growth of the idea, the early experiments, the fight for opportunities, and the author's work for tanks with the United States and France, after the British War Office had got rid of him. As might be expected, the tone is highly controversial" (Falls).

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Octavo. Original moderate blue vertical-rib cloth, titles gilt to spine, tank device to front cover within a caterpillar track cartouche.


Portrait frontispiece of Stern (with tissue guard) and 66 illustrations from photographs on 45 other plates, illustrations to the text, title page printed in red and black.


Cloth sometime lightly washed and therefore a little faded and roughened, gilt dulled, title page toned from offsetting of tissue guard, paper flaw at lower fore-corner of Dedication leaf. A good copy, clean and sound.


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