4704CC96-6A4C-4FD5-A270-0BC2F86219A5 Created with sketchtool. Inventors in the Trenches


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Inventors in the Trenches

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  Last updated May 30, 2017 at 5:10 pm

Join Paul Willis as he travels across three countries discovering the stories of innovative Australian Diggers who revolutionised the way World War I was fought. They were the Inventors in the Trenches. Lancelot DeMole was an engineering draftsman who invented the armoured tank, which was necessary to cross the land and break enemy trenches. Sadly, his landship design was rejected by the British military. In the trenches of Gallipoli, a contraption allowed you to line up your shot but also protect the shooter from getting hit themselves. This was the sniping cage which was invented by Major William Thomas Charley. In November 1916, the Australian Imperial Force Inventions research section was formed. This team named themselves the Brainwave Surf Club. Headed by Lt William Henry Gregory Geake, he made numerous contributions such as a bomb-throwing device and the Geake messaging rocket, used throughout the war. Reloadable canvas machine gun belts were used to feed bullets into the gun but shrinkage through reuse caused the guns to jam. Corporal Alexander Muirhead was put onto this problem and, literally overnight, came up with an improved feed belt made from a picture hook, clothes pegs and fencing wire. Sir John Monash was known as the most innovative general of the war, due to his tactical plans and clever use of technology for his battle plans.

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The Royal Institution of Australia is an independent charity, and the sister organisation of the prestigious Royal Institution of Great Britain, tasked with promoting public awareness and understanding of science.


The Royal Institution of Australia is passionate about building and connecting communities engaged with science, and as such works closely with scientific organisations, institutions, universities from Australia, and leaders to inspire the next generation of innovators and to create a lasting legacy for Australia.