Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Recommended Posts

centurion

My father restored an ex WW1 Douglas motor cycle originally just a frame and engine found abandoned in a hedge It now runs in the Banbury run every year.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
David  B

Love the pic of the barmy Australian solo rider taking aim on the move.........I wonder if he could hit anything?

Brilliant read and pics, Centurion.

Richard

I wonder where that caption came from - the cap badge doesn't look very Australian to me, more like RE.

Wonderful series of pics though Cent.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
old_timer

This is all fantastic stuff. The photographs tell some amasing stories in themselves. As for an update I have been looking at P&H motorcycles and have spent some time in the Brooklands Archives looking at sources of bikes used during the war and interservices competitions held at the track during the war.

Other reading has been concentrating on documentation concerned with the setting up of the Military wing of the Royal Flying Corps and contingency planning.

Quite heavy going but very interesting. I have been concentrating on bikes for my own research, but will post some other flying related items in due course as others will be interested.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Annie1914

Just a snippet from a personal account...

In her life story, my mothers cousin wrote about her sister Amy (1897-1928)...

"My sister Amy, joined the Women`s Auxiliary Corps. How I envied

her, but it was no use, you had to be 18 years old to join, but I was so proud. How

she was a Despatch rider on a motor cycle in France. And how she had to go in all

kinds of weather, and how sometimes when she got to a camp, weary and wet through to

the skin, the boys at the camp would have a cup of hot coffee ready for her. This was

all too true, but it losts its` glory for me when Amy contracted Rheumatic Fever

through it all, the result of which affected her heart. "

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
old_timer

In reply to "Annie 1914"

I have an empty section in my research plan for "womens roles" and this fits.

It would be great if I could include it with reference to your mother's cousins name and any more specific information about Amy. If you would rather not post personal details I can provide my research email address

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
centurion
Just a snippet from a personal account...In her life story, my mothers cousin wrote about her sister Amy (1897-1928)..."My sister Amy, joined the Women`s Auxiliary Corps. How I enviedher, but it was no use, you had to be 18 years old to join, but I was so proud. Howshe was a Despatch rider on a motor cycle in France. And how she had to go in allkinds of weather, and how sometimes when she got to a camp, weary and wet through tothe skin, the boys at the camp would have a cup of hot coffee ready for her. This wasall too true, but it losts its` glory for me when Amy contracted Rheumatic Feverthrough it all, the result of which affected her heart. "

Examples of "Amy" s

post-9885-0-85831900-1375117486_thumb.gi

post-9885-0-18961800-1375117402_thumb.jp

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Annie1914

Hi Old Timer. If you let me have an e-mail address I'll send you the details about Amy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
CarolBrodie

Hello

Please excuse my ignorance, I'm trying to find out more about my grandpa who rode bikes in WW1.

I noticed that one of the posts mentions 'San fairy Ann' , this was a phrase I heard frequently at Grandpa's house when I was a small child, I have often wondered what it meant and where it came from - can anybody enlighten me ?

Many thanks

Carol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
johnboy

Try Sweet F.A

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
old_timer

Thanks for all the support. I am still interested in some of the background detail. Any information about shipping motorcycles from the UK and maintanance whist at the front. The early information (Prior to the war) suggests that riders (with their own bikes) were expected to maintain, but what about major breakdowns in action?

Also Royal Flying Corps Planning docs suggest that motorcycles with mechanics could be used to locate and repair aircraft with mechanical faults. Did this ever happen? or did It mean locate and repair other support vehicles.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
old_timer

Hello

Please excuse my ignorance, I'm trying to find out more about my grandpa who rode bikes in WW1.

I noticed that one of the posts mentions 'San fairy Ann' , this was a phrase I heard frequently at Grandpa's house when I was a small child, I have often wondered what it meant and where it came from - can anybody enlighten me ?

Many thanks

Carol

When the British Tommy arrived in France to fight in the First World War, he was presented with a language he struggled to make sense of. What he did to the pronunciation of French and Belgian place names is a wonder, such as turning Ypres into Wipers. (e.g Wipers Times) He picked up a lot of French expressions, but he changed them into something that sounded English. This was the fate of ça ne fait rien, “it does not matter”, (san Fairy Ann) which became a British Army catchphrase in WW1 as an expression of resigned — or cynical — acceptance of some state of affairs, usually brought about by bungling officers. There are referece to other versions such as san fairy anna or send for Mary Ann. It is reported to have fallen out of use after WW1.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Edward Gilbert

Im looking for information about Corporal Archibald John Sproston who served WW 1. He enlisted in England 1914 and according to his medal index card was in the regiment M cy S Re ( in other words a motorcycle rider with the Royal Engineers). His service records don't seem to have survived( at least I don't see them listed on Ancestry.UK) but I sure would like to find them. He was service # 28094 enlisted 1914 and served in France. He kept a dairy and a few examples of his diary entries during the war are on line and one of them at least appeared in London "Times". Before the war he was an active motorcyclist who competed in various races in England such as the "1908 London to Edinburgh motor cycle ride"and he is often referred to in the 'Motorcycle" magazine of those years. I have seen him referred to as "A.J. Sproston as being "well-known in the motor industry and motor-racing circles" and was in London,England as a motor engineer. He has a patent May 16,1912 for a "Stand for side car attached to cycles" which can be seen on the internet. He and his father George and Archibald's wife Maria along with the pilot and the rest of the passengers were killed shortly after leaving the Croydon Aerodrome December 24,1924 when the plane lost power.crashed to the ground ,and exploded and burned all the occupants to death. All they found of the Sproston family were their charred bones!!!If anyone has any information about A. J. Sproston please post what you can tell me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
vintagesunbeam

As you say Archibald John Sproston was recruited as a despatch rider - the MIC records nothing other than his name, rank, and date of entry. However, although it is not on Ancestry, there is a file at TNA, reference WO 339/136830 which I looked at in August. As you say he is also mentioned in Motor Cycle - as you will know he was a TT rider, for example a member of the 1911 Rudge works team.

The TNA file shows that he was born 15/11/1885 at Great Yarmouth and on recruitment he described himself as an automobile expert, and consultant to the ACU. His home was Bridgwater House, Tunbridge Wells, and he was educated at Bethany House, Goudhurst, Tunbridge Wells. There is fascinating detail in many of these files - we learn that he weighed 10st 4 lbs and measured 5' 7½” in height. On the other hand, there are some gaps in the record - I would expect to see complexion and colouring (which is absent) and the exact dates of entering and leaving France. However, the file shows that he served with 2nd Signal Company (ie attached to 2nd Division HQ). Sproston, however, isn't mentioned by name in the unit's War Diary (WO 95/1333).

I was left unclear about when and where he was commissioned. All the DR service records in this series which have survived belong to men who were later commissioned. The file shows that he made an unsuccessful application in November 1915 from Alexandria but - and I have never seen this anywhere else - an order was made prohibiting transfer from RE to any other unit, whether the RFC or MGC. There is a second application dated 6/2/18 from Poona, which was presumably successful.

The file also shows that he was involved in flying at Brooklands in May 1913, and there are references from the MD of Lea & Francis, FG Fenton St Germans, Douglas Brothers, and Rudge-Whitworth.

According to Michael Carragher he was mentioned in the Daily Mail in December 1914 when he was still serving in France, and Motor Cycle published his own article about despatch riding in the Middle East on 27th July 1916.

You are obviously aware of his early death, but you may not have seen the detailed report in Flight magazine which you find at: http://medlibrary.org/medwiki/1924_Imperial_Airways_de_Havilland_DH.34_crash.

My brother Martin is better informed than I am about the careers of those DRs who were distinguished motorcyclists in their own right - he may have more information to add, and I'll draw this post to his attention

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
shutt

Love that photo of the Australian "show off" firing a rifle on the move. Having ridden bikes as my only transport for over 25 years now I can honestly say that is impressive. On the other hand, with the lean on the bike and bumpy looking terrain, wonder if he actually managed to stay on after the shot was taken :unsure: !. Great thread, really interesting and some brilliant photographs too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
michaelcarragher

San Fairy Ann? Motorcycles and British Victory 1914-1918, by Michael Carragher, is now published by FireStep Press.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
CarolBrodie

When the British Tommy arrived in France to fight in the First World War, he was presented with a language he struggled to make sense of. What he did to the pronunciation of French and Belgian place names is a wonder, such as turning Ypres into Wipers. (e.g Wipers Times) He picked up a lot of French expressions, but he changed them into something that sounded English. This was the fate of ça ne fait rien, “it does not matter”, (san Fairy Ann) which became a British Army catchphrase in WW1 as an expression of resigned — or cynical — acceptance of some state of affairs, usually brought about by bungling officers. There are referece to other versions such as san fairy anna or send for Mary Ann. It is reported to have fallen out of use after WW1.

Thank you Old Timer and apologies for the delay in replying....work gets in the way ! I have also been busy looking at my Grandpa's other relatives. San Fairy Ann was something I heard regularly at Grandpas, my Mum and Dad used it too (Dad was WW2)

San Fairy Ann? Motorcycles and British Victory 1914-1918, by Michael Carragher, is now published by FireStep Press.

Thanks for this I'll look out for the book.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest AndrewGriffiths

Hi there motorcycle fans

Here is a photo of my uncle Frank Powell, who was a despatch rider in France.I know very little about his service career, but I have his medal card (RE Cpl 182239)

Can anyone tell me anything else about his bike or equipment etc? (Triumph?)

Andrew

post-104403-0-74267100-1385577273_thumb.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Rockdoc

It is a Triumph. There's a photo of an identical - but rather cleaner! - machine HERE part way down the page and posted on 11/11/2013.

Keith

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Magnifico

Has anyone come across information about the 1st Massachusetts Motorcycle during WW1.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
old_timer

Hi there motorcycle fans

Here is a photo of my uncle Frank Powell, who was a despatch rider in France.I know very little about his service career, but I have his medal card (RE Cpl 182239)

Can anyone tell me anything else about his bike or equipment etc? (Triumph?)

Andrew

Great Picture, You will have seen the link from Rockdoc and that picture is from the Imperial War Museum collection. I would agree it looks like a Triumph. sometimes these were pictures taken in a studio or outside back home because of the ban on Cameras, but this is looks like a real one taken in the fileld.

The bike has a modified front mudguard to deal with the mud sometimes there were much wider sheilds in front of the engine. It looks like he has a tool kit strapped to the tank and carries a bag over his shoulders with one on the rack. No number plates and looks like it could be plain painted or repaired tank which suggests this is a War Office Bike or one made by a RE field repair shop rather than an early one or one supplied by the rider. The bike also has a horn as well as a front light

Standard issue service revolver on the left for drawing with the right hand. However this is a bit of a handful when controling the bike and drawing the gun. Standard hat, (no tin helmets I think until later). He wears the armbands of a dispach rider and 3 quarter length riders coat.

I am currently working towards publishing a book about WW1 Motorcycles and would be very interested in using your uncles photograph. Please let me know if you would be happy for it to be used and please feel free to ask any more questions. Do you know where he was stationed and dates etc?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
old_timer

In June of this year is the 100th anniversary of the Red Cross Field Day at Brooklands Race Track. The event was organised to test Red Cross systems and equipment and featured mock battles and RFC Aircraft flying overhead. The event was attended by members of the Royal Family who reviewed the Troops and Red Cross Personnel.

I would like to commemorate the event by getting some people in Period Army and Red Cross Uniforms. I would also like to get a Period Phelon & Moore motorcycle and or Douglas and Triumphs. This could also be used to publicise the commemorations taking place at Brooklands in August and any other related events that the participants would like to go into the press.

Does anyone have any contacts for any of the above people or bikes? I know this is a really tall order, but I am sure there some people out there that likes at challenge.

Please let me know here or via Twitter @Fenlandclassics #Warbike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
RobL

Depending on the date, the Great War Society may be available - there is a medical unit, and we have members that own a Triumph, Douglas, Phelon & Moore and a unique Matchless sidecar combination fitted with Vickers MG. August is already an extremey busy month though

Www.thegreatwarsociety.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ghazala

From a cigarette card...

post-100478-0-60225900-1394821028_thumb.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
johnboy

See post 26 he may be able to help.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
hill89

A motor despatch rider with the Royal Engineers



I am hoping that someone can shed light on an interesting letter written at the Front by a soldier in Nov 1914 - my distant relative Cpl (later Lt) Alfred B Gibaud Rgt no 29048. His medal card gives this info: Theatre of war served in – P/167468/1; Date of entry therein - 26/10/14 – WS/1/10075. The letter gives some details of his involvement and location and I wonder if anyone knows how he fits into the greater scheme of the conflict.



These are the details in the letter:-



  • The letter was received Bristol on 17 November 1914.




  • He left England a fortnight before as a motor despatch rider with the Royal Engineers




  • He wrote that he is at the headquarters of the 6th Division in France not far from the Belgian frontier, and that he is near a lot of Indian troops, who are doing "magnificent work."




  • He adds that he is in the fresh air most of the time, gets plenty of good, plain food and never felt more fit and well.




  • In his first experience of carrying despatches at night without lights he was at one time within 1,500 yards of the German trenches.




  • It is really awful, he says, to see the damage that is being done by the big shell fire, and to observe the large number of refugees wandering about waiting for the British to advance so that they can get back to their homes....




I would be very thankful for more info on the 'motor-cycle despatch riders', also the geographical location of the HQ of the 6th Division in France [not far from the Belgian frontier - as stated in the letter] and who are the 'Indian troops' referred to?



Best regards


Richard


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...