Yet in 1916, British Tanks suddenly appeared, similar in many ways to De Moles model
The De Moles tank of 1912
In 1912, A South Australian named Lance De Mole submitted a proposal, to the British War Office, for a "chain-rail vehicle which could be easily steered and carry heavy loads over rough ground and trenches". The British War Office later developed a very similar tank themselves. The War Office’s "Big Willie" design had Holt Caterpillar tracks and a "climbing face" like the De Mole proposal. Inquiries from the government of Australia, after the war, yielded polite responses that Mr De Mole’s ideas had unfortunately been too far advanced for the time to be properly recognised at their just value.
In 1919 the Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors said of De Mole
( Bryan Cooper - The Ironclads of Cambrai. p28)" He is entitled to the greatest credit for having made and reduced to practical shape as far back as the year 1912, a very brillant invention which anticipated, and in some ways surpassed, that actually put into use in the year of 1916. It was the claimant's misfortune and not his fault that his invention was in advance of his time, and failed to be appreciated and was put aside because the occasion for its use had not arisen"
Of course the "true" Inventors of the tank were Sir William Tritton, managing director of Fosters of Lincoln, and Major W G Wilson, who developed "Little Willie" and "Big Willie" independently. But De Mole preceded them and was fated to be ignored by history.
http://www.trivia-library.com/b/militar ... e-tank.htm
Description. The tank is an armored vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine. It is armed with machine guns and artillery and moves on metal caterpillar treads. The name "tank" originated during W.W. I, when the British, to keep their new weapon a secret, shipped the first tanks to France in crates labeled "Water Tanks."
Origin. Although Guido da Vigevano in 1300, and Leonardo da Vinci in 1500, designed armored combat vehicles, the first modern, motorized tank was invented by E. L. de la Mole of North Adelaide, Australia, in 1912. De la Mole sent his designs to the British War Office where they were filed away into bureaucratic obscurity.
Not knowing that de la Mole had already invented the tank, Col. Ernest Swinton of the British Royal Engineers began reinventing it during the early years of W.W. I. After reading an article on American agricultural tractors, Swinton obtained one of these and encased it in metal armor. Swinton's primitive tank impressed the War Office, which assigned Lt. W. G. Wilson to further develop the invention.