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Royal Enfield motorcycles during WW1


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#1 rewdco

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 08:05 PM

Hello,

I'm new to this forum, so I'll start with a little introduction:

I own two WW2 Royal Enfield motorcycles, and as such I became quite interested in the WW2 history. In a way to combine these two interests, I started to research the war time and early post war Royal Enfield history. This research job also spread to the WW1 period, and that's how I found this forum.

With the help of many knowledgeable friends I have discovered a lot of interesting information. I have bundled all these facts in a Report. The WW1 part of my Report can be found here:

https://dl.dropbox.c...e Great War.pdf

If anybody on this forum would have anything to add (pictures, facts, ...), please let me know!

Jan

#2 RobL

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 09:51 PM

Have you been in touch with Chris Roberts? He owns the sole surviving Matchless motor machine gun combo, and the only one of all the motorcycle machine gun combos in working condition, and knows plenty about them in service

#3 rewdco

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 03:48 PM

Hello Rob,

Thank you very much for your reply!

Although I know Chris Roberts' Matchless outfit, I never had contact with Chris. Do you have his email address?

Regards,
Jan

#4 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 04:04 PM

Jan,
Welcome to the Forum, and thank you for posting an excellent article.
Attached is a photograph of a Clyno Machine Gun section.
Regards,
LF

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#5 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 04:14 PM

Jan,
Some more WW1 motorcycle photographs.
LF


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#6 rewdco

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 05:05 PM

Thanks for these pictures LF! By the way, the MMGS outfit in the last photograph is a Scott.

Jan

#7 MikB

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 06:30 AM

That is a pretty impressive piece of work.

Thank you for posting it. Have any of the local historians in Enfield, Redditch shown any interest?

Regards,
MikB

#8 rewdco

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 06:16 PM

That is a pretty impressive piece of work.


And you haven't seen the other parts of this Report yet! ^_^

Have any of the local historians in Enfield, Redditch shown any interest?

Regards,
MikB


Hello Mik,

A couple of months ago I sent the links to all the parts of this Report to the Redditch Library. I also asked them if they had any additional information / photographs. I know that the late Ivor Mutton, who has worked at Royal Enfields for many years, and who later became the Royal Enfield Marque Specialist for the Vintage MotorCycle Club, had donated them his complete Royal Enfield Archive upon his death a couple of years ago.

Even after sending them two polite reminders, they haven't even bothered to send me a reply! I hope they didn't put the Ivor Mutton Archive in a skip!

Regards,
Jan

#9 MikB

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 07:02 PM

And you haven't seen the other parts of this Report yet! ^_^



Hello Mik,

A couple of months ago I sent the links to all the parts of this Report to the Redditch Library. I also asked them if they had any additional information / photographs. I know that the late Ivor Mutton, who has worked at Royal Enfields for many years, and who later became the Royal Enfield Marque Specialist for the Vintage MotorCycle Club, had donated them his complete Royal Enfield Archive upon his death a couple of years ago.

Even after sending them two polite reminders, they haven't even bothered to send me a reply! I hope they didn't put the Ivor Mutton Archive in a skip!

Regards,
Jan


Hmmm... it's a few months since I've been to the Library - it's a good spacious building with (so far as I can tell) a good stock of books well organised; at least I've always been able to find what I wanted. But I don't know if they'd know what to do with out-of-the-ordinary resources like that. I don't think they'd dump it, especially if it relates to local industrial history which is a reasonably big thing around here, but they might not have the resources to make it properly available.

It may be worth writing to the Redditch Standard, Webb House, Church Green East, Redditch, Worcs. B98 8BP, or emailing editor@redditchstandard.co.uk to see if they can put the boot in at the right place to make something happen?

Regards,
MikB

#10 rewdco

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 08:22 PM

Thanks Mik, I'll send them an email.

Regards,
Jan

#11 rewdco

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 07:17 PM


Will's WW1 Military Motors - Card No.16 - British Officer's Side Car.

" These handy motor cycles, with their side cars, were quickly adopted by the Military authorities as a very satisfactory means of rapid transit. With their aid, much ground can be covered by Officers ".

Posted Image


I just came across the image above in the WW1 Military Motors - 1916 set x 50 cards thread. The Officers' side car is no doubt a Royal Enfield 6hp combination, as can be seen from the pictures below:

Posted Image

Posted Image

I wonder if any of these two pictures may have been used by the artist to make the cigarette card illustration...

Jan

#12 rewdco

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 07:26 PM


Will's WW1 Military Motors - Card No.6 - British Motor Cycle Maxim.
" The ammunition boxes are carried beneath the axle of the side car, and are easily accessible to the gunner, who is protected by a bullet-proof shield.
LF

Posted Image


Another image from the WW1 Military Motors - 1916 set x 50 cards thread. It looks as if this photograph of a Clyno outfit may have been used to make the Machine Gun illustration above:

Posted Image

Jan

#13 rewdco

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 07:28 PM

And I may be up to an interesting discovery here:

Will's WW1 Military Motors - Card No.35 - French Motor Cycle Ambulance.

" The Red Cross organisation of the French Army has been carried to a high state of perfection. Motor vehicles of all descriptions are adapted - in the mountainous Vosges, where in many places the roads are so narrow and steep, that ordinary Red Cross Ambulances cannot be used, these small side cars have proved most useful "

Posted Image


As you will see in my Report, Royal Enfield used the fact that they delivered motorcycles to "the French Government" in their inter-war documentation. The strange thing is that the factory ledgers don't mention any motorcycles for the "French Government"... I can only find 120 motorcycles that have been despatched to Comiot in Paris. Comiot must have been the French Royal Enfield importer at that time.

When I compare a catalogue illustration of the 3HP model (as delivered to Comiot) with the cigarette card image, the similarities are easy to see. I only have some doubts on the engine, which doesn't look like a V twin on the card. But that could be due to some artistic license...

Posted Image

Maybe the Comiot motorcycles were not for a French Government contract, but for a (French) Red Cross contract...? (Hence no "French Government" comment in the ledgers...?)

So, gentlemen, I'd love to see the original photograph that was used for this illustration! Only this photograph can prove my theory, and will solve another mystery!

Regards,
Jan

#14 rewdco

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 09:07 PM

I just found an even better match for the Officers' Side Car illustration:

Posted Image

Posted Image

Jan

#15 robins2

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 04:21 AM

Attached File  025 LONDON REGT.- 25TH BTTN ( Co. OF LONDON CYCLISTS).jpg   33.95KB   5 downloads

#16 rewdco

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 07:10 PM

Thanks for sharing! Looks like a Douglas to me.

Jan

#17 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 16 July 2012 - 01:50 PM

American Motor Cycle Machine Gun combination.
LF

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#18 rewdco

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Posted 16 July 2012 - 03:41 PM

The motorcycle is an Indian. Here's another Indian, with double stretcher sidecar.

Posted Image

Still looking for a picture of the French Red Cross stretcher sidecar! ^_^

Jan

#19 Lancashire Fusilier

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 05:04 PM

Some more WW1 Motorcycles.
LF

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#20 rewdco

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 05:33 PM

Thanks for these LF.

Top left: looks like a German motorcycle, presumably NSU.
Top right: ?
Bottom left: American motorcycles, Indians?
Bottom right: a 4 cylinder FN.

A friend of mine just sent me this photograph, from a book by Negro. (Thanks Rik!) The illustration comes from the French ECPA Archive.

Posted Image

Posted Image

The houses in the background don't look like the Western front, could be the Vosges. Compared with the factory illustration of a Model 140 (the model that was sold to Comiot in Paris) we can see some similarities (petrol tank, frame, front mudguard), but the forks look different. Could these be stronger forks for sidecarring I wonder?

Posted Image

Has anybody got any other pictures? ^_^

Jan

#21 rewdco

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 08:34 PM

As this motorcycle ambulance appears to be French, I did some more research on a French WW1 forum. (http://pages14-18.me...jet_12188_1.htm). The outfit is a Sunbeam, from a French contract.

Hmmm... it's a few months since I've been to the Library - it's a good spacious building with (so far as I can tell) a good stock of books well organised; at least I've always been able to find what I wanted. But I don't know if they'd know what to do with out-of-the-ordinary resources like that. I don't think they'd dump it, especially if it relates to local industrial history which is a reasonably big thing around here, but they might not have the resources to make it properly available.

It may be worth writing to the Redditch Standard, Webb House, Church Green East, Redditch, Worcs. B98 8BP, or emailing editor@redditchstandard.co.uk to see if they can put the boot in at the right place to make something happen?

Regards,
MikB


No news from the Redditch Standard yet, they even didn't bother to send me a reply...

Jan

#22 roomsue

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Posted 08 August 2012 - 06:52 AM

Hello - I'm new to the site, and I'd like to know if the Royal Enfield sidecare combination was put to use by the Post Office after the end of WWI? The P.O. used Royal Enfields - but I don't know if these bikes were re-commissioned from wartime use. I'd be grateful for any info, thanks.

#23 rewdco

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 10:47 AM

Hello - I'm new to the site, and I'd like to know if the Royal Enfield sidecare combination was put to use by the Post Office after the end of WWI? The P.O. used Royal Enfields - but I don't know if these bikes were re-commissioned from wartime use. I'd be grateful for any info, thanks.


I don't think so... The photograph below is early 1920's. Too late to be ex WW1 I think...

Posted Image

Jan

#24 roomsue

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 12:26 PM

What a fantastic picture! Thanks, Jan. Do you happen to know if these motorcycles are the same models as the ones used during WWI?

#25 rewdco

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 08:48 PM

It looks as if these big twins didn't change a lot over the years. This is a 1916 catalogue illustration:

Posted Image

And this is an early 1920's Post Office combination:

Posted Image

The saddle, the silencer, a speedometer, but apart from these details I would say that both bikes are very similar.
Jan