Rise of the Tank – Armoured Vehicles and their use in the First World War
by Michael Foley
Published: September 2014
The tank played a hugely successful part in the Allied war effort during the First World War. It is a mystery, then, why the development of the weapon took so long and was resisted so fiercely by a number of key men and government departments.
The idea of an armoured vehicle was far from new by the outbreak of war in August 1914. As early as the fifteenth century Leonardo da Vinci imagined wheeled vehicles equipped with canons. In 1903 H.G. Wells described his version of the tank to be armourplated, have internal power and be able to cross trenches; characteristics that were remarkably similar to the tanks that trundled onto the Somme battlefields thirteen years later. In this book the author analyses key questions surrounding the tank including why senior army personnel were so opposed to its development and content to continue to send wave after wave of unprotected men into the mouths of German machine guns. We also learn more about Lord Kitchener and his scepticism of the tank, which led to the weapon being developed by the Royal Navy under the watchful eye of Winston Churchill. Was Kitchener’s death in June 1916 a major component behind the tank finally being used in a combat situation? The author then explores the enemy feeling towards the tank and evaluates why the German high command had little use for it. By the end of the war the Germans had produced only twenty of their own. Did this contribute to an ultimate Allied victory? These and many other questions are answered in Rise of the Tank. Split into four chapters that deal with the idea and development, the tank in action and the men who operated them, and illustrated with more than 100 original images, the book should appeal to First World War and military vehicle enthusiasts alike.