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The origins of the Char 2C have always been shrouded in a certain mystery. In the summer of 1916, probably in July, General Léon Augustin Jean Marie Mourret, the Subsecretary of Artillery, verbally granted Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée (FCM), a shipyard in the south of France near Toulon, the contract for the development of a heavy tank, a char d'assaut de grand modèle. At the time, French industry was very active in lobbying for defence orders, using their connections with high-placed officials and officers to obtain commissions; development contracts could be very profitable even when not resulting in actual production, as they were fully paid for by the state. The French Army had no stated requirement for a heavy tank, and there was no official policy to procure one so the decision seems to have been taken solely on his personal authority. The reason he later gave was that the British tanks then in development by a naval committee seemed to be better devised as regarded lay-out, ventilation and fire protection, so a shipyard might improve on existing French designs. Exact specifications, if they ever existed, have been lost. FCM then largely neglected the project, apart from reaping the financial benefits. At that time all tank projects were highly secret, and thereby shielded from public scrutiny.