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British instructors at Camp Colt


centurion

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Reading some stuff on Camp Colt (the first US Tank training school set up and run by Eisenhower). The instructors were, it seems, British whilst the tanks were French FT 17s. There is a photo of Ike with his chief instructors - two British officers and an American. Two questions - where were the French (given that the British had very little experience with the FT17)? And is there any way of discovering who the British instructors were?

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The names of the British officers are probably to be found in an archival source, but exactly where to look is quite another question--the National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC; the U.S. Army Center of Military History, Washington, DC; the U.S. Army Military History Institute, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania; or some other repository, perhaps where the Eisenhower papers are stored.

Right after World War II the U.S. Army published its 17-volume official history The United States Army in the World War, as described in this link; most likely the volumes are to be found in a few libraries in Britain. I read that they're not indexed, so the search would be a hit-or-miss thing. The CD-ROM version of the series that is for sale is described in this link. There's no guarantee that what you're looking for is to be found in those volumes--the history is of the American Expeditionary Force, and not of the training infrastructure in the U.S. Happy hunting and good luck.

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Based on the Google search reference below, I believe Ike wrote his own history of Camp Colt in 1920, and there's probably a good chance that he would have mentioned their names--but where you could find a copy I'm not sure. Probably would be worth it to email the Eisenhower Library in Abilene.

DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER LIBRARY ABIL[Eisenhower's 1920 history of Camp Colt; Gen. T.J. Camp re. use of tanks; to Craig Campbell re. career advice] CAN - CANN (Misc.) [corres. with Gen. ...

www.docstoc.com/.../DWIGHT-D-EISENHOWER-LIBRARY-ABIL - Cached

Chris

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The Tank Corps officer was Frank Summers - he established, trained and commanded D Company HSMGC at Flers-Courcelette.

He was born Oct to Dec 1872 in Redhill, the son of a draper Henry R Summers (born 1825 in Chesterton Cambs) and Elizabeth Pearson? Brereton (born Jan to Mar 1839 in St Pancras London). He owned the draper and hosiery business at Commerce House, Station Road Redhill – he was the 11th Mayor of Redhill serving from 1886 to 1888. Brother of John W Summers, MP for Flint Boroughs – died Jan 1913 and Walter and Henry Summers.) In 1881 living in Brighton at 18 New Steine Kemp Town with mother and 6 siblings. Served in (Rhodes) Chartered Coy Police during the expedition to reduce the rebellion in Matabeland in ‘93. In 1894 he was a Reuters Correspondent in Rhodesia, Times (Aug 1905) reported that he had spent some time prospecting for mines in Rhodesia and editing a newspaper in Bulawayo. Married Marjorie J (poss Pryor) Summers born in Richmond Surrey in 1872. Their son Cyril Henry Gerald Summers born 18 Apr 1899 at Leighton Buzzard. F Summers Gent commissioned 2 Feb 1900 and served as Lt in 14th (East Kent) Bn of the Imperial Yeomanry 1900 (MID LG 10 Sep 1901) and later with the 53rd Bn Imperial Yeomanry. Awarded South Africa medal with three clasps, he resigned his Commission as Lt 19 Sep 1900. In 1901, at the time of the census, the family was living at 17 Holland Park Ave, Kensington – Summers shown to be of independent means. Secretary to the Imperial Service Club on its foundation 30 Sep 1901 until its failure in 1905. In 22 Feb 1905, a creditors meeting was held to resolve the issue of a £500 debt, In Aug ’05 this was resolved and his debt was discharged. He then became secretary of the Cosmopolitan Club in London. In 1913 his name is mentioned in bankruptcy proceedings in respect of the Shalo Copper Mines in East Sweden; the Times later reported that in Sep 1901, whilst promoting the Berkley Estates, he had received £68,000 of which £28,000 went into the Empress Club and was lost. He had also bought a yacht and several motor cars, renting a country house in Taplow and a flat in St James St. Commissioned into the RMLI and deployed to France 21 Sep 14 (possibly one of the 50 gentlemen who placed themselves at the disposal of the RND. Appointed Adjt on 21 Sep at Dunkirk. Served with Tpt Coy and in support of army units during the Antwerp action and then during 1st Ypres, Aubers ridge and Festaubert. Promoted from T/Lt to T/Capt 23 Mar 15. Between 4 Sep 1915 and 27 Mar was appointed for duty with Col Sykes, who commanded the RNAS in the Eastern Med from Aug 1915. Awarded DSC “for services with the RND Motor Transport Coy in France” and MID whilst serving with the Royal Marine Artillery. Mentioned in The Aeroplane 8th Sept ‘15. Served with No 3 Wing RNAS at Dardanelles in Dec ‘15. Relinquished RM commission, at the request of the War Office and transferred to MGC as Capt with seniority 23 Mar ‘16. Presented with DSC, by HM the King at Buckingham Palace on 19 Apr 16 - Times reported Summers as Capt RM, T/Maj 4 May on the formation of D Coy. Midshipman Cyril Henry Gerald Summers (aged 17) KIA on HMS Indefatigable at the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 16 . Frank Summers deployed to France with D Coy arriving on 29 Aug ‘16. Having attended various briefings of Corps HQ staff, he established his HQ at the Green Dump on 13 Sep and remained there until 29 Sep. He briefed his "skippers", prior to their deployment, on the afternoon of 14 Sep and, in the early hrs of 16 Sep, moved forward to Flers to brief the tank commanders who were to attack Gueudecourt. Being told that the infantry attack had been postponed, he directed the tanks to advance and they were therefore ready to assist the New Zealand units which did go forward. He remained in command of D Coy, during the follow-up actions, until 18 Nov ‘16 when it was formed into D Bn. He then returned to the UK. Awarded the DSO in the New Years Honours ’17, he was promoted A/Lt Col on 11 Jan ‘17 to command F Bn at Bovington; he then deployed the Bn on 20 May to France, where it established its base to Auchy-Les-Hesdin. On 1 Jun the Bn moved to Wailly (the Corps Driving School) for two weeks then to the Corps Gunnery School at Merlimont for live firing; tanks were then drawn and taken back to Auchy before deploying to the Ypres Salient. Summers commanded F Bn during the Third Battle of Ypres and at Cambrai. He was transferred back to the UK in 14 Dec 17 to assist training of further tank units. Appointed T/Lt Col Dec ‘17, probably as CO of the newly formed 15th Bn, on 14th Jan he was appointed to the British Military Mission in Washington. Briefed on tank tactics at US War College, and at Camp Colt Pennsylvania where he met the future President Eisenhower, then a tank officer. He returned to the UK (POD Liverpool) on the White Star vessel Lapland 8 November 1918, He served in the Air Ministry ‘18 to ‘21 and relinquished commission on completion of service 1 Sep 21, retaining the rank of Lt Col. From 24 Feb 20 appointed Deputy Controller Appointments Department, Ministry of Labour and Director for London District, located at Horrox's Hotel Strand, established to obtain employment for 14,000 officers still in unemployment. Retired April ‘22 and a complimentary dinner given in his honour at Prince's Restaurant Piccadilly – pictured in London Times on 22 Apr ’22. Who's Who lists Club as Union. On Tue 31 Jul 28 the Empire Fellowship Ball at the Pavilion Bognor committee includes Lt Col F Summers. Attended Matabeland and Mashonaland Campaign reunion in Nov ‘33 which was presided over by Baden Powell. Attended RTC Dinner Nov 1935 and Nov 1937. Possible injury in a Rd accident Mar 1939. Attended Matabeland Reunion Nov 1943; Honorary Secretary RAC Club in Grosvenor Sq, London. Died 14 Jan 1948 aged 75 years (therefore only 20 when serving in Matabeleland) there was a private funeral on 20 Feb ‘48; his obituary by Ernest Swinton appeared in the London Times 21 Feb 1948.

I think the other officer was Philip Johnson - but I'm not sure.

Will do some more digging

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Wow that's a lot. I have a problem however (ungrateful swine that I am) - "Briefed on tank tactics at US War College, and at Camp Colt Pennsylvania where he met the future President Eisenhower, then a tank officer." doesn't sound like being an instructor unless it was him doing the briefing - is it merely a case of linguistics? I still wonder why a man whose experience is with heavy tanks would be teaching at a school for light tanks. Not very good picture of officers involved enclosed

post-9885-1267745849.jpg

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The man second from the right is certainly Frank Summers; he was doing the briefing.

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I think the other American officer was Samuel Rockenbach; he was the first commander of the US Tank Corps

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I don't think that's Rockenbach--according to this link he was in France while America was in the war. If it's any consolation, his papers are in the collection of the Virginia Military Institute. Another photo of him is available here.

Another question of semantics--British officers giving briefings at Camp Colt wouldn't necessarily be instructors assigned there. However, officers assigned or attached to the British Military Mission in Washington could easily have traveled there and given briefings, talks, or other assistance.

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Many of the officers who were sent as instructors to the British Military Mission in the USA, were sent there on a temporary basis and, as far as I know, there is no complete record. I have the Who's Who in the British War Mission in the USA 1918 however. This lists both civil servants and naval and military officers who served with this organisation, along with biographies.

Under British Artillery Mission, sub-heading Tanks, are the following:

Colonel F Summer DSO, DSC

Major AD Greene MC

Major P Hammond MC

These may not be the men in the photograph of course , but perhaps it may give a lead. With regard to the French tanks, this might be mis-leading. It is quite possible that this was a PR exercise, and this was the writer's spin on events.

TR

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Terry

I think you are right - it was Phlip Hammond in the photo on the right not Johnson

Stephen

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  • 3 weeks later...

Have found a set of notes which indicates that it was Maj Philip Hammond DSO MC (Tank Corps late Norfolk Regt)

The US officer is recorded as I C Welborn

Stephen

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I think the other American officer was Samuel Rockenbach; he was the first commander of the US Tank Corps

He had a much large 'tache which was completely white.

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