Admiralty thanks for Inventions

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    Alistair Roach

    I am researching the life of a Gunner(T) who served on TBDs [Torpedo Boat Destroyers] in the Harwich Force during WW1. His service record shows he was: ‘thanked three times by the Admiralty for his inventions’ and ‘shows excellent promise as an inventor… invented several things which have proved useful’.
    I am presuming that these inventions relate to torpedoes, mines or perhaps some type of electrical equipment. Can anyone tell me whether these inventions would be detailed in any archives or could perhaps be traced in any other way – particularly as he was thanked by the Admiralty as opposed to just his Commanding Officer?
    I have tried the Naval Historical Branch and the Museum of Naval Firepower but without success.

    Alastair Wilson

    I regret that I cannot point you to a source of information about the Gunner’s inventions, but, on the assumption that they related to his current experience, I would suggest that the probability is that they related to torpedoes or mines, but less likely to have been electrical, since a destroyer’s electrics were pretty basic, and not very likely to have encouraged him to put on his thinking cap.
    You might also add minesweeping to your list of possible inventions.
    The standard history (the only [full] history) of the Torpedo Branch is Rear Admiral E N Poland’s The Torpedomen : HMS Vernon’s story 1872-1986, [Westbourne 1993], ISBN 0-85937-396-7.
    I have just looked through the relevant chapters, but can find nothing to help you. The book has a lot of interesting detail, but was execrably produced. I have somewhere an original typescript [for this book] which is about twice as long as the finished product. I will see if I can lay my hands on it, to see if there is anything which will help you.
    You might also try contacting Lieut. Commander Rob Hoole, who is the Vice-Chairman and webmaster of the MCD [Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving] Officers’ Association. There is a great deal of historical information to be found on their website, although it mostly relates to WW 2 and later. [The Association’s website is at]

    Alistair Roach

    Thank you. I do already have The Torpedomen plus Flotillas, a hard-lying story by [Captain Lionel] Dawson (1933), Endless Story [: being an account of the work of the destroyers, flotilla-leaders, torpedo-boats and patrol boats in the Great War] by ‘Taffrail’ [Captain Taprell Dorling (1931)] and The Harwich [Naval Forces : their part in the Great War], E F Knight (1919). All good material but no hint as to where any inventions may be listed or found.
    Looking at the bibliography in Torpedomen I thought the MoD Library may be worth a search.
    Just for information the person I am searching for is Gunner(T) Arthur James Roach Royal Navy, and the inventions appear to have been made between 1917 and 1919.


    Perhaps a check to see if he patented any of his inventions could bring results?

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