WW2 Officer on motorcycle

nhvm

Midshipman
#1
Help required please on the following, all pertaining to WW2

As the war gathered pace fuel was getting in short supply and a WD directive was given that all available personnel including officers up to Brigadier level should be able to ride a motorcycle as motorcycles were a more efficient mode of transport mpg wise, this was for the Army & Air force - was this the case for the RN as well?

Also can anybody direct me to any information and images of RN officers riding a motorcycle?

I know predominantly motorcycles were used for 'on land' communications and were ridden quite a lot by females of 'all' the services i.e. dispatch riders - but if the issued WD directive for all personnel to learn to ride motorcycles was in force what role did it play for an RN officer?

Many thanks for any help.
 

Seadog

War Hero
Moderator
#5
Not much call for Naval Officers to ride motorcycles on duty. More economical than 4 wheels? Not unless you're 3 or 4 up.

The General in the side car - Fritz Witt- was killed by naval gunfire at Normandy.

IMG_0850.JPG
 

nhvm

Midshipman
#6
Thanks for the links Sumo - some of which I've seen, some not, it all helps.

Seadog - the 'more economical' is taken from official WD directive but I see where you are coming from.

I think you are right re 'not much call for RN officers to ride bikes' - that's what makes it interesting though, we know the RN had motorcycles during WW2 and we are not talking one or two either, they had 1k+ according to WD contracts, they 'all' cant have been for dispatch rider operatives? - and its this info that I would like to discover if possible.

Do you think 'off duty' they had the use of lets say 'pool bikes' - if there were such a think as pool bikes?

It could be that RN only had motor cycles purely for dispatch rider operations? and any usage by officers could be their own personal transport? - I just don't know - this is just what I need to find out.
 

slim

War Hero
#7
At Lossiemouth in the 60s we had Vespa scooters and one real motorcycle.
These were used to transport messages, signals etc around the air station.
Never could get a hold of the solitary motorbike but did have a Vespa and then later a Vespa with Box sidecar.
 

nhvm

Midshipman
#8
A Vespa with a box side car - that's different - I bet that was a thing of beauty to behold!!

Looks like I have hit a brick wall with the rest of this I'm afraid, no period photos other than Wren dispatch rider ones, nothing re Officer and motorcycles.
 

ratsroden

Lantern Swinger
#9
A Vespa with a box side car - that's different - I bet that was a thing of beauty to behold!!

Looks like I have hit a brick wall with the rest of this I'm afraid, no period photos other than Wren dispatch rider ones, nothing re Officer and motorcycles.
 
#10
Thanks for the suggestion, I've looked in it, but it does not give me the info that I'm after unfortunately.

Shows the different manufactures and varieties etc. and even what roles they played but does not mention if RN Officers ever used them in any capacity in WW2.

Quickly running out of 'old boys' who were there to ask unfortunately.

There's got to be an official WW2 Naval directive somewhere stating the use of the motorcycle and who could use it - but - its finding that directive.
 

ratsroden

Lantern Swinger
#11
Thanks for the suggestion, I've looked in it, but it does not give me the info that I'm after unfortunately.

Shows the different manufactures and varieties etc. and even what roles they played but does not mention if RN Officers ever used them in any capacity in WW2.

Quickly running out of 'old boys' who were there to ask unfortunately.

There's got to be an official WW2 Naval directive somewhere stating the use of the motorcycle and who could use it - but - its finding that directive.
Try a FOIA request.
Ask for the serial numbers of Motor Cycles issued to the RN with RN number plates.
I asked my older brother and he remembers riding one when he was briefly at HMS Nile a shore station in Egypt I think. sadly he doesn't have a photograph of him riding it. He has one of him in uniform on a camel he tells me. Not much use I'm afraid
 
#12
ratsroden: I have virtually all the WD contract info for the MatchlessG3L bikes from 1941 to 1945 along with there respective numbers, they had no official registration numbers just contract numbers.
Army bikes had regiment/divisional colours and numbers but as far as I can gather the RN just had their contract number painted on the tank - this is another area which make finding out anything difficult as there are virtually no period photos of RN motorcycles, unlike army bike where there are plenty.

When you mention your brother riding one in Egypt was he an officer?
 

ratsroden

Lantern Swinger
#13
ratsroden: I have virtually all the WD contract info for the MatchlessG3L bikes from 1941 to 1945 along with there respective numbers, they had no official registration numbers just contract numbers.
Army bikes had regiment/divisional colours and numbers but as far as I can gather the RN just had their contract number painted on the tank - this is another area which make finding out anything difficult as there are virtually no period photos of RN motorcycles, unlike army bike where there are plenty.

When you mention your brother riding one in Egypt was he an officer?
Yes he was-just. Later Itallian scooters used by the RN had RN type number plates. So far as WW1 and2 the navy was always different.
 

ratsroden

Lantern Swinger
#15
On what occasions did he ride it? - pleasure or on Naval duty work?

Can he remember what machine it was as well?
Just asked him and as far as he can remember there were a number of motor cycles at the Wardroom used by him and others to go to and from the Cypher Room some distance away. A PO kept them in good order. He thinks it might have been a Matchless but he could be confused.
 
#16
Just asked him and as far as he can remember there were a number of motor cycles at the Wardroom used by him and others to go to and from the Cypher Room some distance away. A PO kept them in good order. He thinks it might have been a Matchless but he could be confused.
That's brilliant information, goes a long way in substantiating the information I am looking for - that Officers did indeed use RN motorcycles for naval work other than RN dispatch rider usage, what a shame he doesn't have a photo or could tell you more.

FYI - most of the military preferred the Matchless (G3L) when it came out in 1941/42 to any other supplied motorcycle due to the fact that the Matchless was the first wartime motorcycle to incorporate 'Front hydraulic suspension forks' (named at the time teledraulic forks) the other manufacturers motorcycles still incorporated the ridged forks (nick named Girder forks).
The teledraulic forks were a vast improvement in comfort and handling hence the popularity, so it would not surprise me if your brother being in the senior service had the use of one of these, as the navy always wanted the best.

Do thank him very much for the information.
 

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