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I can thank Dave Giles from the VMCC for providing all the content for this Blog which is very much an appeal for help in trying to locate any of the team or other BSA’s that were ridden in the immediate Pre-war period.

Photo of British Army Team Motorcycles #156 Sgt O. Davies Matchless 350cc #113 Pte. JL Wood BSA 496cc [EOG 22] #75 Cpl A C Doyle BSA 496cc [EOG 20]  #68 Lt. J. F. Riley with Norton 500cc at ISDT 1939

I have been provided with a list of the last three events of the ISDT prior to the outbreak of WWII in 1939, an event which for the second time interupted the ISDT. If anyone is able to help us identify any of these bikes by providing a registration or other ID and if they are aware if any collectors have one of these bikes kept under wraps somewhere we would be grateful if you could contact us here by messaging on this post

Dave says “A fascinating chance conversation with Georges Wander on the Gold Star Owners club stand at Stafford (owner of the oldest G.S. in the land) led to our wondering how many, if any, of the Gold Stars used in the Pre War ISDT had survived? Diligent research of a variety of sources at the VMCC Library led me to believe that the number of Gold Star, or Silver Star, entries for 1938 was probably 12 and for 1939 I know of 9 – although I have uncorroborated evidence of more, as other nationalities were also involved.

About the entrants for the 1938 ISDT I can be fairly sure as the event occurred in Wales and we have the programme. But for the fascinating 1939 event held in Salzburg we do not have the all important programme. I also know that again not all the 500 BSAs were Gold Stars, for example in the CMSA team of 3 there were 2 Silver Stars, and in the BSA team Jack Ashworth rode a 250cc Silver Star. (intriguingly, so did a Mrs M. Anning in the ‘38 Welsh event).

Because of my personal interest in the Empire Star model (I own one) I extended my research to 1937 which was in Wales and find we had 9 BSAs of either 350 or 500cc capacity which were, presumably, all Empire Stars. I have now been introduced to a member who intends to write a book based on the adventures that befell the British contingent in the extraordinary ’39 event; and any information our members might recall about any rider of any make we would be most grateful: and in particularly for sight of a 1939 programme.

The BSA Riders involved were:
1937: R. Spokes; J. Ashworth; E. Savell; S. Bell; H. Ogden; T. Bleakley: E. Perks; A.E. Perrigo; H. Cartwright.
1938: Mrs M. Anning (250cc) J. Dalby: H. Cartwright; A. Fletcher; D. Barber: J. Ashworth; F. Perks; R. Yeates;  J. Amott; R. Gillam; P. Sirell; H. Tozer; T. Blockley; R. Spokes; F. Rist, L. Vanhouse (748cc).
1939: T. Tozer; J. Amott; J. Ashworth (250cc); L. Ridgeway; T. Blockley;  J.Wood; R. Money; F. Whitehouse; F. Rist; P.Doyle.

BSA entries in the ISDT’s of 1937 – 8 – 9
ISDT 1937 Wales

Image of list of BSA Bikes in the ISDT 1937

ISDT 1938 (very wet and difficult)

Image of list of BSA Bikes in the ISDT 1938

ISDT 1939 in Austria (Salzburg)

Image of list of BSA Bikes in the ISDT 1939

It is believed that all the 500cc were M24s with the exception of 2 bikes in the CSMA team: Fred Perks rode a M23 Silver Star and Les Ridgeway a M23 engine in a M24 Gold Star frame. (see Classic M/C Dec 1984)


When the British contingent withdrew at dawn on Friday they were 200 miles from the Swiss border, and a further 800 miles to go through France – made difficult by the turmoil of French mobilisation. Staying behind to ride on Friday were the British Army Team with Bert Perrigo of BSA who was supporting them) and
255    Marjory Cottle   250 cc   Triumph
166    Colin Edge        350 cc   Matchless
132    Hugh Sim         350 cc   Triumph
140    Alan Sanders    350 cc   Triumph

War office instruction to the Army team withdraw arrived during the day, so kit was collected and bills were paid, so that, on their return, the riders could fill up with fuel and be ready to depart as soon as the last rider came in at 5pm. They then rode hard all through the night in torrential rain to the Swiss border, some falling asleep as they rode – but fortunately without injury; to arrive in Switzerland at dawn on Saturday.(see Bert Perrigo’s account in MCG 6th Sept 1939).

See also: Peter Chamberlain’s addition to the end of the ISDT report in M/cg 30/08/39, where he describes the withdrawal of the main party during Friday.

And Fred Perks recollections of the event in the Classic Motor Cycle of Dec.1984.

German Teams won the 1939 Trophy, Vase and other Cups. But the results were declared null and void by the FMCI (later FIM) in 1946.

Dave Giles

1st Sept 2012