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 Siebe Gorman’s ATEA

Date: 18 January 2003

Amphibious Tank Escape Apparatus 

JW. Bech


Siebe Gorman and Co. Ltd





Land of origin



Special Note: 

Small version of the DSEA


User group

Tank personel


Part no:



Working principle

External filling from the long


Gas type

Oxygen from buffer in the tank


Cylinder volume



Max. cylinder pressure

150 bar


Material of cylinder



Counterlung inspire

On the chest


Counterlung exhale



Dive time duration



Operating temperature



Magnetic signature



Weight ready to use in Air



Weight ready to use in water






Scrubber material










Scrubber+ Bottle on the chest



Single hose with shutt off valve

Pendulum system








 No Oxygen bottle! Later Oxylet








If you have any information to add this sheet please mail it to References to source and names will always be added!  


Info found: R.H. Davis, Deep Diving and Submarine operations





One of the more interesting developments was the provision of escape equipment for the crews of amphibious tanks which played an important part in the invasion of Europe. The buoyancy of these machines was by no means excessive, and, even without being under fire, casualties had occurred and caused loss of life among the crews. The problem here was not only to produce some escape apparatus sufficiently light and small to be worn continuously at te ‘ready’by the tank crews, and to be able to pass through the narrow hatches, but which could be produced in great numbers at very short notice. The Amphibious Tank Escape Apparatus (A.T.E.A.) which was produced was a very small version of the Davis Submerged Escape Apparatus (D.S.E.A.) and embodied its special patented feature. It was charged initially with oxygen from cylinders fitted in the tank landing craft. The charge held in the bag was sufficient for a few minutes breathing, and gave enough buoyancy to maintain a fully-equipped man on the surface. Additional underwater life was given by the fitting of a D.S.E.A oxylet cylinder which could be broken quickly to recharge the bag. In the heavy weather of D-Day, many lives were saved by this apparatus.


Davis Submerged Escape Apparatus

The Davis Submerged Escape Apparatus as 'B' and 'C' Squadron crew members know, was issued as a means of escape from DD tanks.

The Amphibious Tank Apparatus - ATEA, later replaced the DSEA. For information on these two pieces of equipment the book 'Deep Diving and Submarine Operations. A Manual for Deep Sea Divers and Compressed Air Workers' by Sir Robert H Davis formally Principal and Managing Director of Siebe, Gorman & Company Ltd., Cwmbran, Gwent is very helpful.

The DSEA contained a steel cylinder in the breathing bag with 56 litres of oxygen compressed to 1200 atmospheres and a canister with a chemical for the absorption of the wearers exhaled carbonic acid gas (CO2). The control valve on the cylinder when opened admits oxygen to the breathing bag and charges it to a pressure equal to that of the surrounding water at whatever depth the apparatus is being used. The wearer is thus able to breathe in a normal manner.

There is a means also of connecting the apparatus up to an oxygen source in the submarine if so required. A third source is provided by two small steel capsules in the breathing bag of oxygen, called 'Oxylets' with break-off necks. There is also an emergency buoyancy bag in addition to the main breathing bag and a speed-retarding vane. This is an apron coiled on the underside of the breathing bag and its purpose is for the wearer to unfold it and hold it out in a horizontal position to retard the ascent to the surface. The ATEA was a development of the DSEA to obtain an escape apparatus sufficiently light and small to be worn continuously at the 'ready' by tank crews and to be able to pass through narrow hatches.

The ATEA was a small version of the DSEA. The description in the book says it was charged initially with oxygen from cylinders in the tank landing craft and also fitted with an 'Oxylet'. The book also comments that in the heavy weather of D-Day, many lives were saved by the apparatus. Luckily 'B' and 'C' Squadrons did not swim in. There are two illustrations of the ATEA worn by a tank crew member in his 'Best BD' with a RTR badge on his beret and a DD tank with the screen up. George Varley has sent in a copy of 'DD Tanks: the Fort Garry Horse - Report on the Employment of DD tanks in the Assault' dated 21st June 1944 which is an appendix to the FGH War Diary.

The FGH was put off near the beach but the 1 Hussars were launched much further out and because of heavy seas landed short of tanks because of foundering. The report includes the comment that 'the ATEA Life Saving Eqpt was excellent'.



Going in on D-Day and what happened to us after.

                             Stan Fish Seneco

Pais was let off the LCT first when we were about 2 ½ miles out and infantry boats were circling about.  Sailor Kenyon was to go next, but before he did, Paisley’s tank was swamped by a large wave on top of rough water from the rocket ship.  Everyone came up, but G. Hawkins was hit (there was blood on the water), but I don’t know by what and he went down. The LCT crew decided to go in farther before they let Sailor off, but we hit a mine or something which blew a big hole in the LCT and tore our screen (Stanfield’s tank), but Sailor was able to get off. Talking between Stanfield and Harry Pritchard, of 4th troop, who was behind us, it was decided that we should get off and let Pritchard off as his screen was okay.   We went off and Harry managed to leave the LCT.

  We were in the water, which was about six inches above the turret.  We were standing on the back watching the show when Nichols exclaimed, “I forgot to turn the radio off!! and down he goes, head first and shuts it off.  When he got back up and caught his breath, he thought that was kind of nuts.

  Then O.E. Smith and I tried to open the dinghy, which we managed to do.  He jumped in and I tried to as well, but the waves took it so fast that I ended up swimming for my life.  I took my pistol out of my holster and put it in my jacket – why, I don’t know.  I was a few yards away from the tank and Stanfield was hollering, ‘Throw your money back, Fish, throw your money back.  (I had won a few issued new franks previously).  I was having a tough time staying afloat and was just about ready to give up when my ATEA came floating out with Fishy written all over it and I grabbed it.  A team of horses couldn’t have pulled it away from me.  Then, after a few minutes, Johnny Pearson came out in another dinghy from another LCT that had been blown up and pulled me in.  When the tide went out in the afternoon, we were able to walk to shore.

  When we were in the harbour on the 12th, someone said an officer had his head blown off and Jack Sobey asked if it broke his glasses?

  On Christmas Eve, 1944 we had to pack up and leave Moek through Nijmegen.  We went across the bridge, turned left on the dyke and went to a village or town across the river from Arnhem.  While there, Rookie caught a goose, plucked it and was going to roast it, but before he could, we were called to pull a tank out, so he decided to leave it with Dave Christiani to cook.  Dave was all for that.   We were gone about two hours or better and Rookie was thinking about roast goose the whole time.  When we got back, Christiani had opened a can of Derv (diesel fuel) and roasted the goose over it and it was as black as the ace of spades.  We had a helluva time holding Rookie.  He was going to shoot Christiani and all Dave kept saying in his slow drawl was, ‘You wouldn ‘t shoot me lad, would you?’  He didn’t, but it was awfully close.   Christiani ate the goose, but no one else did. 

Additional info:



To be added: photo and description of the oxylet and ATEA equipment.




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