As another year passes as we approach Remembrance Sunday this weekend and Armistice Day on the 11th November. The remembrance of the war has always been considered of great importance by British Motorcycle clubs, many clubmen riders went war and many never returned, those who remain have always believed that this sacrifice should not go un-noticed. I do not want this article to simply be a mark of respect to the many British soldiers who were called up by their nation to defend this country and paid the ultimate price for our freedom with their life. The ISDT has been an international community and at the same time as many British Racers were called up and ran the risk of not returning home, riders of other nations were being required to do just the same facing the same penalty. The time to remember the wrong of particular wars is no longer important it is well studied and taught as part of school curriculum history. However the anonymous individuals who were the casualties and who perished, deserve remembrance as the years pass and the witnesses no longer remain to remind us of the cost that war imposes on all those who take part in it.
I have included a number of images from the archives of the Imperial War Museum. But would encourage you to take the time to listen to this recording of Wrexham Steelworker Trevor Edwards, born 1917, from Ffrwd near Wrexham. Trevor was conscripted into the Royal Welch Fusiliers and became a Dispatch Rider. In seven 30 minute sessions he is recorded by the IWM in 2000 and recalls all aspects of his war from conscription to the end. It is a fascinating story and record of the sacrifices made by those who were called to defend their country and the distances they were required to move and the poor conditions they often existed in. http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80022186
Freddie Frith OBE passed away in 1988 he had a successful career as a road racer before and after the war and was Grand Prix motorcycling world champion and 5 times IoM TT winner Crasher J H White was a regular TT competitor before the war
Freddie Frith, alongside other Riders from BSA; Ariel and Matchless Works teams, served in the army during World War 2 at the Infantry Driving & Maintenance School stationed at Keswick. They taught officers and NCOs how to ride cross-country. Sgt. Freddie Frith taught teams of four on Norton 500cc over Skiddaw in all weathers. A special treat on the last day was reserved for roadwork, following Freddie’s track fast-cornering
An early colour photo that appears to be produced in reverse by the IWM Archivists (and we have now corrected) and features brand new Ariel W/NG’s being unpacked and assembled by a mechanical service team in the field.
The necessity and successful increase in Motorcycles in the British Army is witnessed by this article published in the Australian News paper of New South Wales ‘the Liverpool News’ of 14th September 1939 which reported; “Britain’s Military Motor Cyclists The importance of the mechanisation of the Army, to the British motor cycle Industry, cannot be exaggerated. Practically every unit of the Army now has its motor cycle detachment. The total number of machines in use it under stood to be nearly 22,000: yet had it been suggested twelve months ago that the Army would soon have even 10,000 machines, It would not have been believed. British manufacturers are seeing to it that the machines are the very best – industry is leaving nothing to chance. In last year’s international six days’ trial the Army riders had to pilot machines weighing over 300 lbs. through the water splashes and sheep tracks of the Welsh mountains. The German team which won, suffered the loss of far fewer points than the British, as the riders were able to avoid retirements on the road, for which 100 marks are lost daily by each rider. Army requirements are already persuading British manufacturers to consider producing a fully-equipped machine that is really light – probably about 250 pounds. In this way the Army motor cycle “boom” will play an important part in respect of future design; and the subsequent benefits will automatically be passed on to the public. Recently the War Office took delivery of a batch of motor cycle combinations with drive on the sidecar wheel as well as the rear wheel. Formerly confined to use in the desert, this sidecar outfit is being found to be of great value in carrying three men and equipment as “cavalry” advance units, as they can operate over almost, any type of ground and cover thc advance or retirement of the main body of troops whose route would be confined to routes capable of taking lorries.“