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vintagesunbeam

There is a lot of information on the 1914 despatch riders in the thread on 5th Signals Company, this being the company in which Cpl William Watson served. He was the author of Adventures of a Despatch Rider (published 1915) which contains a lot of detailed information about the recruitment and deployment of these motorcyclists. There are reprints of the book available for purchase, and the text is downloadable at http://www.archive.org/details/advdespatchrider00watsuoft.

The 6th Division landed in France on 10th September and took over the British positions on the Aisne front from the 5th Division. The 6th Signal Company was based at Serches from 2nd October when the 5th Division moved north to Flanders. However, the 6th Division followed the 5th Division north on 10th October. The 6th Signals Company War diary is available Ref WO 95/1600 at the National Archives at Kew. This would record where the 6th Signal Company was based when Corporal Gibaud joined them in early November.

His Medal index card shows that he landed on 26 October, and as the letter received in Bristol on 17th November says he left England a fortnight before, he presumably spent time in transit. In all probability he was recruited as a despatch rider but not allocated to a specific company until he arrived in France.

You say that he was a distant relative of yours. As I'm researching the careers of all the despatch riders who landed in 1914, I'd be very interested to learn more about his later career. I believe that he died in 1962, but other than his war record and the date of his death, I have no idea about his history. It's particularly interesting to establish his pre-enlistment life (many had specific connections with the motor industry or motorcycle sport) and also to find out whether their experience as DRs, or general military career, shaped their life story.

Three major units of the Indian Army landed in Marseilles to reinforce the British Army. The war diaries of their Signals Companies state that the Lahore Division Signals Company landed 30th September, the Meerut Division Signals Company on 12th October, and somewhat later the Lucknow and Secunderaband Signals Troops of the Indian Cavalry Division. I understand that these units were grouped together as the Indian Corps whose HQ was located in Merville, which lies between Bailleul and Bethune.

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hill89

Thanks this is helpful, I will look up the 6th Signals Company War diary in the Nat Archs. I also read through the online version of 'Adventures of a Despatch Rider' and it is a remarkable record based on individual experience. As far as Alf Gibaud's life is concerned, a number of family members scattered across the globe have been trying to find out more info about him, and no one has much first-hand info about him. The letter that I found was printed in a newspaper and is the first real info on his army career that has come to light. We do know that he has left an impressive military record and after WW1 served as a pilot in the RAF in WW2. He married Rosa Kerr in 1919 but it seems that they didn't have children who might have kept his family photos, medals and records. His Army file is not in the Nat Archs (at least I could not locate it.) I will let you know if anything more comes to light. Kind regrds

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Moonraker

Dare I ask about the motor-cycle that features in The Crimson Field? (A few of us are maintaining a very long, sometimes frivolous,often critical, thread about this BBC TV series.) Dare one assume that because no one has yet commented on the machine that it is authentic? To my completely uninformed eye it does look similar to several that feature in postcards of the 1910s.

Moonraker

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vintagesunbeam

This is a pretty standard single speed clutch hub 1912 Triumph which belongs to the firm Vin and Vet.eu which handles vintage and veteran motorcycles.

If you look at their webpage you will see references to this and other films which they have supplied early bikes for.

http://www.vinandvet.eu/news/114/60/BBC-Crimson-Field/

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Moonraker

Thanks for that, Nick. Must admit I've never been into motor-cycles,but even I can admire the models in your link.

Moonraker

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hill89

According to the diary of a RAMC officer motorised transport was the exception rather than the rule. Ref: 1914 to 1919 - A Medical Officer's diary and narrative of the First World War by Travis Hampson MC. "Each Section is complete in itself, and can act independently of the others when detached from the Unit. The Unit is horse drawn; there are no motor vehicles. This applied to the whole of the original BEF (British Expeditionary Force), except for a few staff cars and motor cyclists, and the motor lorry supply columns...." http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/philsnet/T%20Hampson%20WW1%20Diary%20100.htm

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vintagesunbeam

thanks for posting the link to Travis Hampson's Diary - I haven't yet had time to read it in detail but it is an impressive and extremely detailed contemporaneous account. According to Long Long Trail 20 Field Ambulance was attached to GHQ rather than to one of the divisions, and I look forward to comparing his account with what I know of the actions at Le Cateau and on the Aisne after the Retreat.

The diary is in a very contrasting style to William Watson's "Adventures of a Despatch Rider" - both documents began life as diaries/letters home but the point of comparison is that Hampson kept his diary private for many years post-war, while Watson published an edited version at the first opportunity in 1915 (for which he was apparently disciplined).

Your post raises the interesting point about how much motorised transport was available to the BEF. Some modern accounts are simply silent about the Royal Engineers' despatch riders (eg Jerry Murland's "Retreat and Rearguard") while others (such as Bird "Gentlemen, we will stand and fight at Le Cateau") categorically state that the Army didn't have motorcyclists. But Michael Carragher's research has shown that Watson's account is extremely accurate - the Royal Engineers recruited a significant number of motorcyclists when the war began and the MICs show that more than 100 motorcyclists landed in France in August 1914.

Possibly there was a cultural difference between the RAMC and the Royal Engineers - while the RAMC's medical care was no doubt up-to-date, their transport establishment reflected an old-fashioned horse-drawn approach, while the innovative Royal Engineers were enthusiastic early adopters of new technology.

I should add that at least one of the motorcycle DRs was a qualified doctor (Sydney Crowther, who was killed in action in October 1914 aged 39), and at least five more of those who landed in 1914 were medical students (Symonds and Hobson with the 1st Division, Richard Brew with the 4th Division, and Richard Cargill and James B Hallowes).

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johnboy

Might be of interest. Ad for Clyno about 1913

page4a.gif

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old_timer

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.

A J Sprotson was to have riden in the International 6 Day Trial due to have started on 4 August

A J Sprotson is mentioned in 13 August edition of The Motor Cycle Magazine.

Competition Riders for the Front.

Needless to say, a large number of well-known competition riders are engaged in the war, and it is quite impossible to give the names of even a tithe of them, but we may mention that one of the best-known club secretaries, Harold Karslake, of the Motor Cycling Club, is at Farnboroiigh, attached to the Royal Aircraft Factory, and expects to leave with the expeditionary force at any moment. Cecil Hann and Humphries, the Cardan driver, are also at

Farnborough, while Leonard Goss (F.N.) and A. J. Sproston, .the well-known T.T. rider, are also known to have volunteered for the front, and are probably there by this time.

Also 12 Nov (letter from AJS & 10 Dec

A Flying Visit horn Corporal Sproston.

Corporal A. J. Sproston, R.E., was in London last week, and we were able to congratulate him over the telephone upon

having been mentioned in despatches.

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old_timer

Thanks once again for all the information that is being posted. Also good that other queries and questions are being answered. I am still keen to source any other pictures that could be published in a forthcoming book.

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old_timer

You can see a summary of the research so far in the October 2014 edition of The Classic Motorcycle published in September 2014. A diary blog of the War through the eyes of pioneer motorcyclists has now been published at www.fenlandclassics.com

Thanks to: Members of the Great War Forum, Brooklands Museum, The Isle of Man Aviation Museum, The National Archives, The British Library, Imperial War Museum and Mortons Media for assistance in compiling this research.

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old_timer

Once again thanks to you all and in particular Michael Carragher for your kind words in the Classic Motorcycle Magazine.

My book WARBIKE: British Military Motorcycling 1899 -1919 is now published and can be obtained via http://militarymc.blogspot.co.uk/

Watch out for a report of the recent re-run of the 1915 brooklands Service Events in the Classic Motorcycle. We are also putting together a film of the event on 27 Sept....But these things always take longer than you think.

P.S. The story is not over and I am still keen to hear more about WW1 motorcycles and their riders. I am also after a Phelon & Moore Motorcycle to photograph at Brooklands where they were tested during WW1.

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valio

Hello to all,

I'm new here. My name is Valentin and I'm from Bulgaria. I'm interested in military motorcycle and have many article from great war. Will start to upload them hope you will find them usefull for your forum.

Best regards

Valentin

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valio

Here Maneuvers in 1912. Making tests on Bradbury motorcycles:

motorcycle102lond0491.jpg

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valio

Midland Motor Cyclist Volunteer Corps. in 1915

motorcycle05lond0029.jpg

motorcycle05lond0030.jpg

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Waddell

P.S. The story is not over and I am still keen to hear more about WW1 motorcycles and their riders. I am also after a Phelon & Moore Motorcycle to photograph at Brooklands where they were tested during WW1.

Martin,

This might be of interest-

https://aussiesappers.wordpress.com/the-men-2/172-weatherilt-percy-buck/

Scott

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Andrew Sefton

Hi, am trying to identify the rider. He is likely to be from Pocklington in East Yorkshire as it was from a collection of other photos of a family in Pocklington who had relatives in local regiments. I was wondering if the number on the side C 341012 was his regimental number, or is that just a number for another purpose?

Cheers, Andy

 

 

IMG_6528.JPG

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