Giffard Le Quesne Martel
Lieut-General Sir Giffard Le Quesne Martel (1889-1958)
1959 Obituary 
Lt.-Gen. Sir Giffard Le Quesne Martel, K.C.B., K.B.E., D.S.O., M.C., the famous tank expert, who played a large part in the development of British armoured forces, and who died on 3rd September 1958, was a Member of this Institution for 30 years.
Born on 10th October 1889, he was educated at Wellington College, the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, and the School of Military Engineering, Chatham. He served a year's apprenticeship in the shops of the North Eastern Railway, Darlington, and then in 1912-13 went to Fort Camden as Officer-in-charge of the workshops there.
He served in France during the 1914-18 war, was mentioned in despatches five times, awarded the D.S.O. and M.C., and promoted Brevet-Major. It was in 1917-18 while serving as a General Staff Officer, Tank Corps, controlling experimental work in France that he began his participation in the development of mechanization in the British Army, the work for which he became so well known. In 1919-21 he was attached to the Royal Engineers Experimental Establishment at Christchurch and in 1921-22 to the Staff College, Camberley. While serving as a Staff Officer, Directorate of Fortifications and Works, War Office, in 1922-26, he designed a one-man tank.
From 1926 onwards he was at Bulford Camp commanding a Field Company of Royal Engineers operating with mechanized forces; during this period he was engaged on the design of new devices for the mechanized forces on Salisbury Plain.
He was promoted Brevet Lt.-Col. in 1928, Lt.-Col. in 1933, Maj.-Gen. in 1939 and Lt.-Gen. in 1942.
In 1930-34 he was in India as Instructor at the Staff College, Quetta. This was followed by an Imperial Defence College Course in 1935; Assistant Director of Mechanization, War Office, 1936-38; Deputy Director of Mechanization, War Office, 1938-39; and Commander, 50th (Northumbrian) Division, T.A. in 1939.
In 1940 General Martel became Commander of the Royal Armoured Corps; and in 1943 the Head of a Military Mission at Moscow.
General Martel was created C.B. in 1940 and K.B.E. in 1943; he was promoted K.C.B. on his retirement in 1944.
From 1945 to 1950 he served as Chairman of the Royal Cancer Hospital.
He published a number of books, including 'In the Wake of the Tank: The First Eighteen Years of Mechanization in the British Army'.
Sources of Information
- Biography, ODNB
- 1959 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries