Lancelot Eldin "Lance" de Mole CBE, (13 March 1880 – 6 May 1950) was an Australian engineer and inventor.He made several approaches to the British authorities, in 1912, 1914, and 1916, with plans for a vehicle driven by a type of caterpillar track, believing that it could have a military application.
It was ahead of its time because in 1912 the need for such a military device had not yet arisen.
To further complicate matters his correspondence was set aside due to various bureaucratic blunders, and was not given to the appropriate officers.
In 1919, three years after the first military tanks had been built and used in warfare during World War I, a Royal Commission acknowledged the potential of de Mole's innovative vehicle.
The commission noted the unfortunate consequences of his submissions being overlooked, and that while his designs had no influence on the actual development of the tank, tanks might have been developed much earlier if his idea had been properly investigated.