From the Vault: Public domain WWI era tank books

big willieToday we present several books covering First World War armor that are in the public domain.  All of these books are free to download in a variety of formats at internet archive.  These books were all written shortly after the war and so represent what was then the current thought on armor and mechanization.  Just click on the title to go to the Internet Archive download page.

Our first offering is “Tanks in the Great War: 1914-1918” by J.F.C. Fuller published in 1920.  This name should be familiar to those with even a passing interest in the history of tanks.  Fuller was the author of the British strategy at the Battle of Cambrai, and would help plan the tank operations for the Autumn offensives of 1918.

Second is “Tanks 19-14-1918: The Log-book of a Pioneer” by Sir Albert G. Stern published in 1919.  Stern was one of the key figures in early British tank development, having served as the Secretary of the Landships Committee in 1915.  Stern headed up the creation of the Allied Mark VIII tank in the later part of the war.

The next books is “The Tank Corps” by Clough Williams-Ellis and Amabel Williams-Ellis published in 1919.  As the name of the book implies, this is an early history of the British WWI Tank Corps.  William-Ellis was known primarily for his work as an architect.

Our fourth selection is “The Tank in Action” by Captain D.G. Browne published in 1920.  This also is a history of the British Tank Corps during WWI.

The next book is a memior from a WWI British Tanker.  “A Company of Tanks” by William Hentry Lowe Watson, published in 1920.

The final book we present is probably one of the earliest fiction stories written about tankers.  “Men and Tanks” by J.C. Macintosh, published 1921.

Book Alert: Genesis, Employment, Aftermath: First World War Tanks and the New Warfare

9781909982222Publisher Helion Company is advertising a new book on WW1 armor slated for a June release.  Titled “Genesis, Employment, Aftermath: First World War Tanks and the New Warfare, 1900-1945“, this book is authored by Alaric Searle and is part of the Modern Military History series from Helion.  Oddly, the Amazon listing for this book has a price of $79.95 while the Helion page shows a more reasonable price of $41.76.  The book is 224 pages with four maps and eight pages of black and white photos. From what information is available, this appears to be the first book by Dr. Searle specifically on tanks and armored vehicle history.

Publisher’s Description:

The employment of the first tanks by the British Army on the Western Front in September 1916, although symbolic rather than decisive in its effects, ushered in a new form of warfare – tank warfare. While much has been written on the history of the tank, this volume brings together a collection of essays which uncover new aspects of the history of these early machines. Leading military historians from Britain, France and Germany offer insights into the emergence of the tank before the First World War, during the conflict, as well as what happened to them after the guns fell silent on the Western Front. Based on painstaking research in archives across Europe, each of the chapters sheds new light on different aspects of the history of First World tanks. Two chapters consider why the Germans failed to recognize the possibilities of the tank and why they were so slow to develop their own machines after the first British tank attack in 1916. Two other chapters chart the history of French tanks on the Western Front and after the end of the war. Tank communication, the employment of British tanks on the Western Front, as well as the activities of British Tank Corps intelligence, are also explained. The use of British tanks in Palestine and in the Russian Civil War is examined in detail for the first time. The volume also reflects on the impact of the Battle of Cambrai, both in terms of its psychological impact in Britain and the power it exerted over military debates until the end of the Second World War. The aim of the book is to reconsider the history of First World War tanks by widening the historical perspective beyond Britain, to include France and Germany, and by reflecting on the pre-1914 and post-1918 history of the these new weapons of war.