F.E. Hotblack

HOTBLACK, Major-General F.E, DSO, MC

Major-General Hotblack, nicknamed "Boots" was born in 1887 in Norfolk. He was educated at the Imperial Service College and Lausanne University. He trained as a family brewer and was a fluent European linguist. Commissioned into the Royal Norfolk Regiment in 1914, he volunteered as one of the founder members of the Intelligence Corps at HQ British Expeditionary Force. He developed the art of tank reconnaissance and intelligence, taping routes for tanks going into battle and laid the start line at Cambrai. He became Tank Corps Intelligence Officer and was responsible for instructing others in tank reconnaissance work. He was awarded a MC for his work behind the lines and was later awarded the Bar; a DSO at Beaumont Hamel and later a Bar; the Legion of Honour; the Russian Order of St Anne; and was mentioned in despatches five times.

Following the war he held various staff appointments, before being appointed the first Director, Royal Armoured Corps (DRAC) in 1939. He was invalided out of the army, after an accident in April 1940, shortly after assuming command of the 2nd Armoured Division.

He died in 1979 aged 91.

Tales of valour

Distinguished Service Order and Bar

HOTBLACK, Frederick Elliott, MC (Temporary Captain)

Intelligence Corps, later Tank Corps

For conspicuous gallantry in action on November 18th 1916. A tank being halted from uncertainty as to the proper direction, this officer went forward on foot through very heavy fire, and guided the tank to its objective by walking in front of it. He displayed great courage and determination throughout.

Bar to Distinguished Service Order

For conspicuous gallantry on November 23rd [1917] during the attack on Fontaine-Notre-Dame. By his personal example and initiative he carried on the attack, re-organising the infantry whose officers had become casualties and collecting tanks. He had to pass through a heavy barrage and was continuously under machine-gun fire, but succeeded in launching a fresh attack with tanks and infantry.
This officer has been present throughout the four great battles of this year, except Arras where he was wounded on the first day. He has shown throughout persistent gallantry and contempt of danger in the pursuance of his duty as a reconnaissance and battle liaison officer which has been an inspiration to all ranks.

Military Cross and Bar

Bar to Military Cross

HOTBLACK Frederick Elliot, MC, (Temporary Captain)

Intelligence Corps, later Tank Corps

For conspicuous gallantry, initiative and devotion to duty near Quennemont Farm on the morning of September 29th 1918.
This officer who is GSO 2, Intelligence, was following up the operations when the mist lifted and disclosed a strongly-held enemy position dominating the advance to the south. He at once ran across to two tanks and directed them to take this strong point, himself going into action in one of the tanks to make certain of success.
The position was later found to be the actual German front line, and was strongly held with machine-guns and field guns in close support. The tanks met with strong opposition, and the heavy machine-gun fire made it impossible for the gunners in the tanks to work their guns, though the enemy were at close quarters and were exposing themselves freely. Major Hotblack then opened the revolver loopholes and fired his revolver into the enemy repeatedly, driving them off.
He was wounded in the eyes and temporarily blinded. The two tanks of which he was in charge were knocked out by shell fire and his crews almost wounded, when the position had been cleared of the enemy Major Hotblack, in spite of his wounds, at once got the wounded into safety and organised a hurried defence with a few infantry against a possible counter-attack.
The very prompt and gallant action of this officer overcame a situation which would in all probability have held up our advance to the south of Quennemont Farm.


Country: United KingdomThe Distinguished Service OrderIntroduced in 1886 as an award for ...


Country: United KingdomThe Military Cross The demands of the First World War made it necessary to ...


Country: United KingdomStarThe 1914 Star was authorised in April 1917 and was awarded to the ...

1939-45 STAR

Country: United Kingdom1939 - 45 Star This star was given for service between 3rd September 1939 ...


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Country: United KingdomVictory Medal 1914 - 1919 Authorised in 1919 this yellow bronze medal, ...


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Country: United KingdomSilver Jubilee Medal 1935Designed by Sir William Goscombe John, RA this ...


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