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British Industrial History

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Alexander Elliott Davidson

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Alexander Elliott Davidson (1880-1962)

1880 August 15th. Born in India the son of John Davidson

Attended Blackheath School and then the Royal Military Academy

1899 Gazetted 2nd-Lieut Royal Engineers

1911 Official Timekeeper to the Royal Automobile Club. [1]

1911 Resident at the London Rowing Club, Embankment, Putney: Alexander Elliott Davidson (age 30 born Simlar, India). Captain R. E..[2]

1912 July 17th. Married at Blackheath to Jane Forrest Home Maccall

1936 Colonel Alexander E. Davidson appointed Director of Mechanisation (War Office) and that post carries the rank of General. He is the son of the late Colonel John Davidson and was born at Simla in 1880.[3]

1940 Retired from the Army

1962 January 29th. Died age 81.

1962 Obituary [4]

Major-General A. E. Davidson, C.B., D.S.O. (Past-President), who died recently, became an Associate Member of the Institution in 1906, transferring to Member in 1911.

To give a true and accurate picture of Alexander Davidson is not easy, because he was by nature shy and reserved and many people found this reserve difficult to break through, but once this was done one found a man of quiet wit and great sympathy. I, as his deputy during his appointment as Director of Mechanization, got to know him well. I never heard him say an unkind word against a brother officer. He would do a good turn but would be embarrassed and almost rude if he were thanked. This shyness must to some extent have been a handicap, but did not prevent his steady promotion in the Army. It was sad that he should have arrived at the age of retirement in the early part of the last war.

He was, I think, the last of the early pioneers of mechanical transport in the Army, because he commanded one of the first sections of mechanical transport in Kimberley, South Africa, in 1902. In 1910 he was secretary to the Mechanical Transport Commission and took his part in the preparation and the terrific expansion of mechanical transport in the 1914-18 war. I first met him when he was on the Staff of the Director of Supplies and Transport at St Omer in May 1915. He was then a major and I a subaltern but I remember being tremendously impressed by his knowledge and memory for figures. Even then I found him reserved and I never saw him lose his temper.

From 1927-1931 he was Chairman of the Mechanical Warfare Board - a period when design and development of tanks was of the greatest urgency. Unfortunately, Britain had only thoughts of disarmament and money for any project was cut to the bone, and design of a tank is a long term problem.

In 1936 he was appointed Director of Mechanization and I had the honour of serving under him as Assistant Director and later as his Deputy. It was a trying time leading finally to war. David John, as we called him, bore that strain with great credit. Finally, may I add that he had one great pleasure outside the Army: the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. As a Member of Council in 1921, Vice-President in 1932 and President in 1935: nothing gave him greater pleasure than attending Institution meetings. At the end I am sure he must have looked back on his career with a feeling of pride in achievement.

(J. S. Crawford)

1962 Obituary [5]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Brooklands Official Race Card. April 17th 1911
  2. 1811 Census
  3. Aberdeen Journal - Friday 07 February 1936
  4. 1962 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries
  5. The Engineer 1962 Jan-Jun: Index