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WW1 Tanks 1914-1918 | Sir Albert Stern

WW1 Tanks 1914-18 | Log Book of a Pioneer

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Lt-Colonel Sir Albert Stern

(signed copy)


'Several important books have been written on tanks, but this work of Sir Albert Stern's is unlikely to be superceded in its own class. The tone is highly controversial.' Cyril Falls, War Books (1930)

The 1919 first edition of Sir Albert Stern’s history of the development and deployment of the British tank. Written by a pioneer in the field of armoured vehicles who played a crucial role in the creation and production of the first British tanks. The book is signed by Stern on the front endpaper: ‘To George W. Schuster from the author, Bertie Stern, South Hill Park, Bracknell, July 1923’.

Stern's book is based on his diary entries, letters and documents written up into a narrative with numerous photos and eight Appendices. Tanks 1914-1918 is full of fascinating details of tank invention, design, production and use in combat during WW1. The book is well illustrated with photographic plates and line drawings.

SIR ALBERT STERN (1878–1966) was a banker who became the Secretary of the Landships Committee during World War I, where his organisational ability and influence in financial circles assisted the Committee in creating the first British tank. During the war he came into conflict with the War Office but had the advantage of direct access to the Prime Minister, and no civil service career to protect. He was removed from direct involvement in the production of tanks and sidelined. At the outbreak of the First World War he tried to join the armed forces but experienced difficulty doing so due to a weak ankle. He offered to supply the Admiralty with an armoured car at his own expense and was eventually commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve at the end of 1914, when he joined the Armoured Car Division of the Royal Naval Air Service. Stern originally became involved with ‘Landships’, as Tanks were originally known, as an assistant to Flight Commander Thomas Hetherington, RNAS. In 1915 he became Secretary of the Landships Committee, and in February 1916 Lloyd George appointed him head of what was to become known as the Mechanical Warfare Supply Department, under the Ministry of Munitions, which controlled the procurement and supply of tanks. Stern was transferred to the Army where he eventually attained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. Stern believed in the application of business methods to war production with the minimum of interference from professional soldiers. Stern and his ally on the committee Eustace d'Eyncourt (Director of Naval Construction and designer of many of the Royal Navy's latest ships) attempted to use their influence with Lloyd George to influence the employment of tanks. However, neither had a military background nor had they spent much time on the frontline, and GHQ became irritated at their interference in their affairs. Stern was removed from his post and given the task of co-ordinating an Allied tank, which resulted in the Tank Mark VIII a few of which were built towards the end of the war.


In good condition. The boards are in good condition, with minor signs of wear and a couple of marks. The binding and hinges are good and secure. The text is in good condition, with a few marks and some marks to the front and rear endpapers and the title page. The plates and illustrations are in good condition. The book is signed and inscribed by Stern on the front endpaper: ‘To George W. Schuster from the author, Bertie Stern, South Hill Park, Bracknell, July 1923’.

Published: 1919
Illustrated with photographic plates and diagrams
Blue boards with gilt titling & tank illustration to front board
Dimensions: 145mm x 220mm
Pages: 298