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SWINTON, Maj Gen Sir Ernest (Dunlop) (1868-1951)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0099 KCLMA Swinton
Held at: Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, King's College London
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Full title: SWINTON, Maj Gen Sir Ernest (Dunlop) (1868-1951)
Date(s): Created 1916-1941, 1970
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 3 boxes or 0.03 cubic metres
Name of creator(s):


Administrative/Biographical history:

Born 1868; educated at University College School, Rugby School, Cheltenham, Blackheath Proprietary School and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich; commissioned into the Corps of Royal Engineers, 1888; served in India, 1889-1894; Lt, 1891; Assistant Instructor in Fortification, School of Military Engineering, Chatham, Kent, 1896-1899; Capt, 1899; served in Second Boer War, South Africa, as Adjutant and later, Commanding Officer, 1 Bn, Railway Pioneer Regt, 1899-1902; awarded DSO, 1900; Staff Capt, Army Headquarters, War Office, 1905-1907; Maj, 1906; Chief Instructor in Fortification and geometrical drawing, Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, 1907-1910; Secretary, Historical Section, Committee of Imperial Defence, employed on the British Official History of the Russo-Japanese War, 1910-1913; awarded the Chesney Gold Medal, 1913; served in World War One, 1914-1918; Deputy Director of Railway Transport, 1914; Assistant Secretary (Military), Committee of Imperial Defence and War Cabinet, 1914-1917; Lt Col, 1915; originator of tanks, 1915-1916; temporary Col, 1915-1917; raised Heavy Section, Machine Gun Corps, 1916; Brevet Col, 1917; awarded CB, 1917; lecture tour of USA, 1918; retired 1919; Honorary Maj Gen, 1919; Controller of Information Department of Civil Aviation, Air Ministry, 1919-1921; Director, Citroen Company, 1922-1951; created KBE, 1923; Chichele Professor of Military History, Oxford University, 1925-1939; Col Commandant Royal Tank Corps, 1934-1938; died 1951.Publications: Under the pseudonym of Backsight Forethought, The defence of Duffer's Drift. A few experiences in field defence for detached posts which may prove useful in our next war (William Clowes and Sons, London, 1904); The truth about Port Arthur by E K Nozhin, edited by Swinton (John Murray, London, 1908); under the pseudonym of Ole Luk-Oie, The great tab dope (W Blackwood and Sons, London, 1915) and A year ago: eyewitness's narrative of the war from March 30th to July 18th, 1915, with Alan Ian Percy, 8th Duke of Northumberland [1916]; The Russian Army and the Japanese War, being historical and critical comments on the military policy and power of Russia and on the campaign in the Far East by Aleksei Nikolaevich Kuropatkin, edited by Swinton (John Murray, London, 1909); The tanks (Gill and Son, London, 1917); The study of war (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1926); translation of Albert, King of the Belgians in the Great War by Émile Joseph Galet (Putnam, London, 1931); Eyewitness. Being personal reminiscences of certain phases of the Great War, including the genesis of the tank (Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1932); translation of An Eastern odyssey. The third expedition of Haardt and Audouin-Dubreuil by Georges Lefèvre (Victor Gollancz, London, 1935); Twenty years after. The battlefields of 1914-18, then and now (George Newnes, London, 1936); War commentary. Broadcasts delivered between October, 1939 and March, 1940 (Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1940); The green curve omnibus (Faber and Faber, London, 1942); Over my shoulder. The autobiography of Major General Sir Ernest D Swinton (George Ronald, Oxford, 1951).


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers and correspondence relating to Swinton's libel action brought against Herbert George (H G) Wells on the origin of the tank, 1941, including letters to Swinton from R Adm Sir Murray Fraser Sueter, H G Wells, B A Levinson and Sir Richard (Roy) Maconachie, 1940-1941. Typescript letter from Col Sir Maurice Paschal Alers Hankey, Secretary of the Committee of Imperial Defence, dated 5 May 1932, on the manuscript of Swinton's book Eyewitness. Being personal reminiscences of certain phases of the Great War, including the genesis of the tank (Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1932). Two scrapbooks containing cuttings, photographs and memorabilia, 1915-1970, mostly relating to Swinton's military career. Edition of The supply of munitions. Part III. Tanks [1920], Royal Commission on awards to inventors. First Report (HMSO, London, 1921), The defence of Duffer's Drift by Swinton, (George Ronald, Oxford, 1949), and War commentary. Broadcasts delivered between October, 1939 and March, 1940 (Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1940).

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

2 files, 5 volumes.

Conditions governing access:

Open, subject to signature of reader's undertaking form.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be provided for research use only. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Trustees of the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, attention of the Director of Archive Services.

Finding aids:

Summary guide available on-line at, and in hard copy in the Centre's reading room.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Presented to the Centre by the family in 1962. The scrapbooks were placed in the Centre by All Souls College, Oxford, in 1980.

Allied Materials

Related material:

The papers of Brig Sir James Edward Edmonds include correspondence with Swinton, 1919-1950 (Ref: GB99 KCLMA Edmonds). The papers of Capt Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart include correspondence with Swinton, 1925-1949 (Ref: GB99 KCLMA Liddell Hart 1/670). The Brynmore Jones Library, Hull University, have 62 letters and cards from Swinton to O A Forsyth-Major, 1925-1947 (Ref: DFM). The papers of Maj Gen Edward Louis Spears at the Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge University, contain correspondence with Swinton, 1922-1940 (Ref: SPRS 1/323). The papers of Rufus Daniel Isaacs Reading, 1st Marquess of Reading, include letters from Swinton, 1917-1925 (Ref: MSS Eur E 238, F 118).

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:

Date(s) of descriptions:
Sep 1998

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