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"The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

I first got this book around 1983 when I was 14 years old, it's really what stated my interest in this hobby, the pictures for the most part seem to have been taken in 1977 when Titch Allan organised a DR gathering at Stanford Hall at what I assume is the founders day event still running today.

So I'm wondering what became of these machines and their owners nearly 42 years on, are there any forum members who were there and have some more photos to share?

first


01 Ariel WNG reg LGP 621 owned by Ted Cotton engine number BH6544 serial C934254
01
02 BSA M20 serial C40086 Vokes filter
02
03 BSA M20 reg MTV 67F serial C4992320
03
04 BSA M20 reg MXX 574P
04
05 BSA B40 Alfa Romeo transfer?
05
06 BSA B40 Chrome plated exhibited at 1977 Earls Court show by the British Army
06
07 Gilera 600cc owner Titch Allan
07
08 Indian 741B
08
09 Indian 741B owner Tony Twycross
09
10 Matchless G3L reg GVN 174 serial ?481183
10
11 Matchless G3L reg YLL 578
11
12 Matchless G3LS 1960 reg 405 ALD owned by Harry Marsh
12
13 Matchless G12 650cc twin
13
14 Norton 16H serial C482831
14
15 Norton 16H reg CON 854
15
16 Norton Big4 reg HTO 23 owned by Roger Deadman serial C4312832
16
17 Royal Enfield C reg HGJ 949 serial 22988037
17
18 Royal Enfield CO engine number 132550
18
19 Triumph 3HW reg HKP 444? serial C4070422
19
20 Triumph 3SW reg DJU 929
20
21 Triumph 5TW reg NDU 706P owner Harry Woolridge serial 3559 No.2
21
22 Triumph TRW reg 492 DH
22
23 Velocette MAF reg HHY 357N owner Jeff Tooze number? MAF1012
23
24 Velocette MDD GZ 3801 number? 11396
24
25 Welbike with unusual front mudguard
25
26 background shot BSA M20 serial 44YB41
26

I think the only one I know anything about is the Norton Big4, I took this picture of it on Genkel Heath near Arnhem in 1998 when I think it belonged to Joe Cooper or his brother. It was restored again at some point by Dave Bailey and I think its now in the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham.

Image123

email (option): robmiller11(a)yahoo.co.uk

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

The WD/C is now owned by a member of the Royal Enfield Owners Club, and it hasn't changed over all these years. But the WD/CO is not on the Register (for the WD Enfields), no idea where it is now...

Jan

email (option): wd.register(at)gmail.com

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

I also have a well thumbed copy of 'The First Military Machine Scene'. I also have the January 2006 edition of 'Classic Bike Guide' in which is a four page article on Big 4 HTO 23. At that time it was owned by Andy Tiernan, but a footnote on one of the pages stated that before the article went to press, the outfit was bought by the NMM.

Andy has had another 2 or 3 Big 4's go through his emporium in recent years......I supplied quite a few parts for these, but I've no idea where they went or who owns them. I also supplied parts for the Rex Cadman Big 4 and I think he had dealings with Andy to replace his sidecar that was stolen. Ron

email (option): ronpier@talk21.com

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

44YB41 on the last M20 is a bit odd, I thought 05YB61 to 69YB21 were all Matchless's?

Rob

email (option): robmiller11(a)yahoo.co.uk

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

The rider of the Triumph 3HW reg no HKP 444 (photo 19)is Fred Heath,he was from Hampton Magna near Warwick,he died about six years ago,he had two 3HWs and some other pre war Triumphs,he also had a Brough and later BMWs,dont know who had his 3HWs after he died,he was a regular at the founders day rally at Stanford Hall.

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

How times change...The Barbour jacket ruled supreme and there was barely any Military clothing in evidence...

These older photos illustrate well how the whole scene has changed...Ian

email (option): ian@wright52.plus.com

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

Ian Wright
How times change...The Barbour jacket ruled supreme and there was barely any Military clothing in evidence...

These older photos illustrate well how the whole scene has changed...Ian
Changed for the better or worse.
Would a pair of those Barbour jacketed military motorcycle owners gone at each other with tyre irons till one ended up in hospital with life threatening brain injuries and the other do a 12 year stretch because they differed in opinion about the exact shade of Kakhi ?

email (option): bsansw1@tpg.com.au

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

There was a Ted Cotton memorial road run last year, it seems he had a motorcycle business in Northampton, was he a VMCC founder?

Its interesting that this is a snapshot of our hobby from 42 years ago, at the time 1977 was only 32 years after the war.

Rob

email (option): robmiller11(a)yahoo.co.uk

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

Back in 1988, when I got my M20, this was the only bit of information I could find on Military Motorcycles, other than a feature or two in "Classic Bike". With no 'net, your sources of correct restoration information were severely restricted, if they even existed at all. I still have my copy of this book, looked at it many, many times back then.

email (option): m20wc51@yahoo.com

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

Hello Ron sorry to bother you on this post as I didn't know how to get in touch with you ,I'm Craig Dixon, I was wondering if anyone had heard back from issobelle josset at Etraham campsite?,I initially e-mailed her in the Sumer last year and she replied back asking for names of who were camping, I've sent several emails but still nothing back.
There are 4 of us again this year with Matchless G3L s,we stopped with you on 65th and 70th and hopefully this one we've done the Guinness book runs as well as the run outs, I'm getting quite worried as same as you work flat out and at moment trying to get 3 matchless bike all back together and running , I wasn't sure if John Tingley would know as well as we stopped with him on the 65th , once again sorry to bother you again as I know your a busy man with other stuff as well ,kind regards Craig dixon dixonsofpudsey@btconnect.com
Ps I hope I've got the correct dates for the parade in bayeux were going 3rd to 9th June ,cheers Ron

email (option): dixonsofpudsey@btconnect.com

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

Any chance we could keep this thread on topic please?

Ron's email address is on the bottom of his post.

Rob

email (option): robmiller11(a)yahoo.co.uk

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

Hi, The chap on the Norton is Roger Deadman, I met him and his Dad on the MVCG Arnhem Tour in 1977. They were driving a 6x6 GMC on that trip and they very kindly used to take my brother and my camping gear every day during the trip. I also have a well thumbed copy of that book. The first BSA WM20 C40086 pictured was belonged to Henry Kisley and he had a sidecar attached on the Arnhem Tour, his friend also had one with sidecar and a trailer if I remember correctly

Henry Kisley BSA WM20 and sidecar

email (option): mickwalsh57@gmail.com

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

Roger Deadman is still active in the Norton Owners Club and has a number of pre-and post-war Nortons. He sold the Big 4 along with a WD16H back in the early 1990s but I have an idea that he was working on another WD16H.

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

Rob Miller
44YB41 on the last M20 is a bit odd, I thought 05YB61 to 69YB21 were all Matchless's?

Rob
Rob, 44YB41 is indeed a Matchless number, it had framenumber 34516 and was disposed of in West Africa in 1955, possibly a rebuilt plate was found with the M20, and the info copied from there? there was hardly any info back then!

Cheers,

Lex

email (option): welbike@welbi##.net (think about this!)

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

Ron Pier
I also have a well thumbed copy of 'The First Military Machine Scene'. I also have the January 2006 edition of 'Classic Bike Guide' in which is a four page article on Big 4 HTO 23. At that time it was owned by Andy Tiernan, but a footnote on one of the pages stated that before the article went to press, the outfit was bought by the NMM.

Andy has had another 2 or 3 Big 4's go through his emporium in recent years......I supplied quite a few parts for these, but I've no idea where they went or who owns them. I also supplied parts for the Rex Cadman Big 4 and I think he had dealings with Andy to replace his sidecar that was stolen. Ron
I also bought the little booklet, and still have it, bought it straight from Titch, when we invited him over for a talk about his wartime experiences as a DR, very interesting! he also told me about using the sidecar frame of the Sunbeam/Matchless engined SWD Big 4 as reinforcement for his concreted drive. I first saw HTO23 when Joe had brought it over for restoration by a friend in Oosterbeek, and wanted one ever since! and did get my first one shortly afterwards, but that's a whole different story!

Cheers,

Lex

email (option): welbike@welbi##.net (think about this!)

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

Regarding number 25, the Welbike, I believe this is the factory sample bike, that was used by Excelsior to show the troops how to ride it, it is now in Holland owned by Hans A. still in it's maroon livery.

Cheers,

Lex

email (option): welbike@welbi##.net (think about this!)

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

Lex Schmidt
Rob Miller
44YB41 on the last M20 is a bit odd, I thought 05YB61 to 69YB21 were all Matchless\\\'s?

Rob
Rob, 44YB41 is indeed a Matchless number, it had framenumber 34516 and was disposed of in West Africa in 1955, possibly a rebuilt plate was found with the M20, and the info copied from there? there was hardly any info back then!

Cheers,

Lex
There is a simple explanation as to why a BSA had a Matchless tank number. I bought that M20 in 1981, and was told by the previous owner that the number on the tank was the number of the Matchless that he used when he served with the Royal Army Service Corps. The bike was dismantled some years ago but should be back on the road this summer. The frame number is 111912 making the original number C5552612. That, and the fact that it was civilian registered in Nottingham in June 1967, is all I know about its history.
Jeff

email (option): jeffharvey490@gmail.com

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

This is fascinating stuff, keep it coming.

Rob

email (option): robmiller11(a)yahoo.co.uk

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

Jeff, yes, simple! and nice! so the previous owner must have been in the services after the war, as those military registration numbers did not come out till 1952 or so.

Your M20, had the following reg. number: 16ZC75, your C number is correct, and the bike was struck off the list on 27-10-1965, before that it served with the Territorial Army, 598 Amb.Syn.Ret. whatever that means?? (info from Key Card 487A)


Cheers,


Lex

email (option): welbike@welbi##.net (think about this!)

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

The Norton CON 854 hasn't been taxed since 1983 - but it doesn't seem that the number has been sold - It is however listed to a 350cc Norton first registered December 1936 - CON was indeed a Birmingham series issued from December '36 - Could it be that someone was running it with an old paper logbook and when it came to be sold, it had to be re-registered as it was incorrect ? It has some nice early parts on it, but the frame with extra stand lug is 1940 or later.

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

Lex Schmidt
Jeff, yes, simple! and nice! so the previous owner must have been in the services after the war, as those military registration numbers did not come out till 1952 or so.

Your M20, had the following reg. number: 16ZC75, your C number is correct, and the bike was struck off the list on 27-10-1965, before that it served with the Territorial Army, 598 Amb.Syn.Ret. whatever that means?? (info from Key Card 487A)


Cheers,


Lex

Lex... Thank you very much for that information about my M20. I appreciate you taking the trouble to find it for me.

Regards

Jeff.

email (option): jeffharvey490@gmail.com

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

No probs Jeff, everything is digitalized now, and can be found in my PC with the press of a button.

If you want a scan of the whole card (some people print them out, and frame them) it can be done, email me for pricing and details.

See below sample scan and stack of cards.





Cheers,

Lex

email (option): welbike@welbi##.net (think about this!)

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

Matchless GVN 174 is my old bike now owned by John Tinley
It was Founders day 1976 or 77. I think one of the first themed days due to titch Allen having been relating some of his DR days in Motorcycle Sport.

What is noticeable nowadays is the laxness of authenticity back then, the sort of amazing detail and research that is availiable here just was not around then here.

As long as it approximated to a WD machine,paint it green that'll do.

GVN174 as it was photographed was knocked up in a month out of whatever fitted out of my stock of Matchless spares; As time went by it got more and more authentic, as that was the era when WD bike riders were regarded as nuts and I was given [yes given all those rare parts] masses of bits, often off genuine bikes being converted to trials bikes.

I loved it, fake as it was, and did many happy miles on it including a trip to Arnhem to try to blag a job on Bridge Too Far; [unsuccessful]

It was a wrench to part with it, but I don't ride what I still have much now.

and in case you are wondering, yes John Tinley got all the true history of it and a bit more.

It also featured in an early issue of Classic Motorcycle, with a lot of inaccurate BS in the article I wrote.

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

['That, and the fact that it was civilian registered in Nottingham in June 1967, is all I know about its history... Jeff']

Dawson Motors in Nottingham sold a lot of ex WD machines through the 60's and there are many with Nottingham registration numbers...Ian

email (option): ian@wright52.plus.com

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

Ian Wright
[\'That, and the fact that it was civilian registered in Nottingham in June 1967, is all I know about its history... Jeff\']

Dawson Motors in Nottingham sold a lot of ex WD machines through the 60\'s and there are many with Nottingham registration numbers...Ian
Ian... I knew of the existence of Dawsons, and had often wondered if that was where my M20 had come from. I have just found their advert in the January 1969 copy of Motorcycle Mechanics. You could have had an Ex-Government BSA M20 for £35, or an Ex-Home Office Triumph TRW for £59.

Jeff

email (option): jeffharvey490@gmail.com

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

Hi Michael,That was a blast from the past ,I have still got the GMC and two wd 16h ,s iv,e allways regretted selling the Big 4 it is the one in the national motorcycle museum

email (option): roger_deadman@yahoo.co.uk

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

How about the Velocette's, I seem to remember John Turner telling me when he bought one that there were only a couple of his model MAF? in the country?

Pendennis Castle July 2001
a42

email (option): robmiller11(a)yahoo.co.uk

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

I checked both my MDD and MAF out Rob, but no matches. According to O&M there were about 1400 MDD's and only 947 MAF's before the contract with Velloce was canceled. But I've a feeling that some more MAF were produced....Maybe sent to Russia as I've seen MAF riders handbooks written in Russian. Ron
Collection-055
MAF-046

email (option): ronpier@talk21.com

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

Hi Roger. Good to hear from you. There was a picture of the Big4 in last months Real Classics magazine in the museum. I rode pillion on my brother Rod's M20 on the Arnhem tour and then had my own M20 finished for the Bastogne tour in Aug 1978 and I think you again carried our camping gear etc which was a great help and made the trip more enjoyable for me and my pal Kieron who rode pillion. I still have my M20 and did the 65th & 70th and hopefully 75th Normandy Anniversary

email (option): mickwalsh57@gmail.com

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

I bought my copy of the book in 1978 or 79 in the BMS shop in Dorking.

The man on the BSA M20 reg MTV 67F serial C4992320 is Keith Chandler.
He was then the VMCC "military machine expert".

I visited him when I was staying with another marvellous character George Yeomans.
A man with tons of metal where I found most of the military stuff I needed for my civilianised WD16H.
With hindsight I should have bought more, but that is life.
George put me up when I asked if there was a campsite nearby Drayton Mill. Being alone he offered me to stay with him.
He lived in Chaddesley Corbet, a hamlet without street lighting. Something I was not used to coming from well lit Holland.
There was a local brewery in the same street with very tasty beer!
When at Drayton Mill I encountered Keith Chandler. Lateron I visited him at his home nearby.
He was the first person to tell me something on military contracts for Nortons.
Unfortunately I lost contact with him and he appears to have extracted himself from the military machine scheme completely.
In that time I also visited Roger Deadman. His father showed me the Big 4 as Roger was away that evening. I contacted Roger many years later in my quest to find information for my Norton WD16H/Big4 website.

Cheers

Rob

email (option): wd16h@telfort.nl

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

Indeed I was the WD Marque Specialist for the VMCC in the 1970s and attended the Founders Day Rally where Bruce Main Smith took most of the photos that appear in the book featured here. I still have my BSA M.20 MTV 67F and the army C number on the machine was that which came off a Matchless G3L ridden by Gordon Jeal the BSA Marque Specialist for the VMCC and who helped me enormously when I was restoring my M.20 in 1973 / 74.

email (option): keithchandler@clistandchandler.co.uk

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

found this old post by rob. royal enfield model C reg number HGJ 949, ive been offered that bike, does any one know anything about it?

thanks, barry

email (option): fullerbarry@hotmail.co.uk

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

The frame number of this bike is 15211, the duplicated frame number is 15289. The same bike was for sale on eBay in January 2021. It was on eBay again last week. Initial price was £6500 if I remember well, this price was lowered at least two times, but I think it still didn't sell at £4900. I've got pictures here of how it looked like in 2021, and it's definitely deteriorated over the last year.

Jan

email (option): wd.register@gmail.com

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

yeh the start price was a bit high but yeah it was eventually lowered to 4800, i can get it way less than that and i am veiwing it soon, he originally brought it last year for 5200 but was let down buy his mechanic, thats why the fuel tank is all bare metal. the resr of the bike to me doesnt look in bad condition but it will be restored, either as per 1970s pic or as it should be.
im assume this is a war time machine??

barry

email (option): fullerbarry@hotmail.co.uk

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

1941 indeed.

Jan

email (option): wd.register@gmail.com

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

Thanks for this thread ... I now have a copy of the book coming my way . Look forward to reading it and see the photos ... There are plenty of copies available at reasonable prices . Especially if your in the UK and forgo the expense of shipping to the states... Mine is coming from Maryland so no shipping charge... I love this forum :)

email (option): wadeschields@mindspring.com

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

All of the registration numbers are on the current DVLA data base apart from three...492 DH Triumph TRW,...DJU 929 Triumph 5SW,...NDU 706 P Triumph TRW....I must admit I half expected 492 DH to be on another vehicle as a personal number but it isn't...Ian

email (option): ian@wright52.plus.com

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

I supplied Andy with a spare sidecar chassis some years ago.

email (option): austonchamp@gmail.com

Re: "The First Military Machine Scene" by Bruce Main-Smith 1978

Got my copy. Great photos but I especially enjoyed reading the Dispatch riders Comments section. Real insight into what it was like to be enlisted in the Corp..... And what they thought of the different make of bikes.

email (option): wadeschields@mindspring.com

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