From the Archives

This page contains photos of military vehicles as they were actually used. This could be useful for people doing research into specific vehicles, or for general interest. In particular it shows the vehicles as they actually were. As restorers, there seems to be two schools of thought as to how a vehicle should be restored. One school thinks the vehicle should look like it did the day it came out of the factory, whereas the other thinks it should look like it did 6 months after entering service. These photos will probably help the latter. For example look at the canvas on the 3 ton Chevrolet in the river. Modern day restorers would have a nice clean tight piece of canvas, whereas in reality a loose sloppy piece was used.



This was thought to be an Alvis armoured car in service in the desert of North Africa during WW2. Information has now been supplied that shows this was built on a Ford chassis using their flat head V8 engine. They were built in South Africa with a four wheel drive by Marmon Herrington. As a result they were known as Marmon Herrington Armoured cars. This was one of two used as radio cars as can be seen by the aerial supports. They never saw service in their intended role as they were not very reliable and kept breaking down. As radio cars they were acceptable. These were used by the 3 Air Support Unit (Army/RAF) in Syria. The photographs were taken July/August 1941. The one on the right shows Cpl Paddy Noble on the transmitter.

This is a Bedford radio wagon photographed in Trowbridge, England. The notes on the back of the photograph describe it as a Bedford "Gin Palace" Wireless Van used by the Army Air Support, taken sometime between 1940 and 1942.

This was known as a Breadvan, but think it may have been a Chevrolet of some sort. The radiator grill is very similar to that of the next set of pictures that I was told were long nosed Chevys. Note the use of the canvas against the side of the vehicle to provide shelter. As mentioned above, look how tatty the piece of canvas is. The second picture in the group shows Bill Moody in his best desert wear sorting out a canvas bag. The raised portion on the roof shows the masts for the radio antenna. The fourth picture in the group shows the mast extended. The interior shot shows the basic conditions in which the operators worked, in this case Vic Taylor of the RAF. Swivel chairs were an unknown luxury! The vans were used in these photographs by the 2/5 Army Air Support Control during 1942 in the "desert". The last photo though is thought to be taken in Cairo, Egypt.

The Long nosed Chevrolet 3 ton was a two wheel drive vehicle that found life difficult in India and Burma. The wet, muddy terrain bogged down the vehicles, so they were eventually replaced with the four wheel drive snub nosed Chevys, the one below being fitted as a recovery wagon. Note that the first of these pictures shows a roll of barbed wire being carried on the front of the truck. Would you damage the paintwork of your neatly restored vehicle for the sake of this reality? Note also the third picture shows the row of three petrol cans just to the right of the gentleman on the running board. These were fairly small in comparison with Jerry cans which were larger and did not leak unlike the British petrol can. 

These trucks were used by the RAF Wireless element of the 25 Army Air Support Control that served in India and Burma (not to be confused with the 2/5 Army Air Support which was a merger of two units that served in the desert and Italy). The Army Air Support Control provided and controlled air support to the front line troops attacking or being attacked by the enemy forces.

The snub nosed Chevy, or Dodge (see mystery page) was used extensively in place of the long nosed Chevys in various guises. This one was used by the 132 Repair and Servicing Unit (RAF) in Central Burma, and is based on a 3 ton Chevrolet chassis. The photograph was originally provided by JT Watson who is on the far right of the group shown.

A more luxurious form of transport than the normal truck had to be the station wagon. This example is thought to be a Ford or Chevrolet. The person in the picture is Barrington Dalby who was the driver for Major Ward who was the Army Liaison Officer of the 2/5 Army Air Support Control in Italy 1943.

This is a Meteorological weather forecasting unit based on what is thought to be a Dodge chassis. However the cab area reminds me of the GMC Deuce and a half cab. Any thoughts? This one was used by the 719 Forecast Centre (RAF) in Central Burma 1945.

Another Chevrolet, but this time it is extracted from a larger photograph, hence the loss in definition. It is a 4x4 converted for use as an ambulance. The photo was taken at Kohima shortly after the battle there. Unusually the rear of the ambulance was open with no doors fitted. It appears to be a hard bodied back with a canvas shade fitted to the very back to keep out the torrential monsoon rains. My first thoughts were that  it was a canvas back but the roof line appears too straight for canvas. Hard bodied Chevs were used in South East Asia as mobile offices and wireless cabins, but were usually fitted with rear doors.

Thanks to Frederick Higgins for the use of his photographs, though some are copies of colleagues photos. He tells me the photographs were primarily taken to remember the people in the shots. As he served with a radio support unit within the RAF, the vehicles do tend towards that role

An addition to the Higgins Archives has been found. It is a Mack NR9 10 tonner 6x4 truck. It was driven by Brian Higgins who was a member of the Royal Armoured Corps during Summer 1946. He was based in Woolwich but was delivering stores to a unit in the Blackpool area where this photo was taken. It was taken opposite his home in Baines Avenue, Little Carleton, with his younger brother Victor posing alongside the truck.