PLEASE NOTE:    the use of a browser other than Internet Explorer will cause various errors - of layout and appearance; the page should however remain fully legible. To view it correctly, please open it in IE


(Article from October 1943)

This is a page of Please go to Site Map for complete site contents.


A full-scale demonstration and training session is held in Surrey in early October 1943, showing the need for and benefits of training in this specialised area of Home Guard - and motor cycling - activity.


PAGE LAYOUT   -  click thumbnails

TRANSCRIPT of article text


 Go To Transcript
 Back to top of page

TRANSCRIPT of above article

A Don R Club Stages Full-scale Demonstration


Twenty-nine Home Guard Units Represented in Training Exercise Similar to the Army-wide and
Army Command Events

LAST week-end a Surrey motor cycle club earned the distinction of holding a full-scale Army-type demonstration. There were six hazards, six military expert riders and six syndicates of 21 officers and men of the Home Guard and Civil Defence taking part—it was a replica of the Army-wide and Army Command events run by a club, the Syx Don R Motor Cycle Club. As the name implies, the club is composed of the D.K.s of the 6th Surrey Home Guard: a club brought into being by the comradeship that has re-sulted from war.

250 Would-be Entrants
A total of 126 competitors is the standard number in this trials-type training, the only officially permitted "Training of Motor Cyclists on the Lines of Reliability Trials"; over 250 applications were received, so it was necessarily a case of those who had their entries in first. As it was, some 29 Home Guard battalions were represented. An aim, of course, was the maximum training value per mile, and the six hazards were contained within a course only 2.7 miles long. Hence, on the whole exercise only some six miles were covered— that is, on the demonstration or training phase and the competition (which reveals how much has been learnt, from the lectures and demonstrations), which was held in the afternoon. The expenditure of petrol was small!

The first of the hazards was a short stretch of sand. It was included because the mud stretch lacked training value; it needed a few armoured fighting vehicles to churn it up to a state in which lessons were afforded. Sand, however, has most of the lessons of mud, and Sgt. Hussey (Ariel), who was the expert here, covered the main points affecting the negotiation of mud as well as those applying to his own particular type of hazard. For the morning, the training phase, there was a straight stretch, about 20 yards long, of sand which was not quite so loose and deep as the organisers would have liked. For the afternoon there was a bend, plus a degree of looseness that should undoubtedly have driven home some of the more important points.

In the morning the tendency was for riders to travel very slowly and endeavour to hold the model by sheer force. Both Pte. C. V. Derouet (350 Excelsior), 6th Surrey, and Pte. G. M. Gale (350 Ariel), 5th Middlesex, came in this category. Pte. A. Greenhalgh (250 Velocette), 4th Middlesex, however went in for a method which would probably result in his arriving in a fresher state at the end of, say, a D.R.L.S. run and more ready for any further job, for he kept his weight in the saddle, thus securing maximum wheelgrip, and, instead of fighting the machine, used tip-toe-like footing "as and when".

The Colonel's Comment
Pte. G. G. Hollanby (490 Norton), 55th Kent, stood just about bolt upright on his footrests and caused a colonel who was watching to say: "When it works, it works marvellously; when it doesn't, it is fatal—you are apt to smash your machine, if not yourself." Fus. H. Betts (350 Ariel), "K" Sector, gave an exhibition of neat, genteel riding. Fus. S. H. Jackson (350 Ariel) had his hand permanently on his clutch lever, a matter on which nearly every military expert had words to say.

On the trial, in the afternoon, there were many good performances in spite of the hazard being much more difficult. Very few were to be seen indulging in risky riding or anything approaching it. It had duly been announced that footing, as such, was not penalised—the exercise was being run in accordance with the Pamphlet, which states specifically, "He (the Army motor cyclist) should use his feet if they are likely to help him or save him from a possible fall."

Hands Off the Clutch!
This time hands were right away from clutch levers. Perhaps the neatest of those seen was L/Cpl. W. E. Bonniface (350 Velocette), 57th Surrey. Some like Pte. S. F. Board (350 Velocette), 56th London, were still a little rough in their throttlework.

At the next hazard, the so-called bomb-crater hazard, there was for once a real bomb crater, one which until the "recce" for this event had never been tackled by a vehicle. As some found rather to their surprise, even an actual crater can be negotiated by a well-handled solo motor cycle. What L/Cpl. E. D. Denyer (498 Matchless), 6th Surrey, thought of the crater was obvious from the way his tongue came out as he arrived at it. Since there was a lump of tree at the bottom........

                next page


Sergt. C. W. Verney (347 Matchless) gained the unenviable distinction of being the only one to subside in the watersplash. The camera has caught him in the act. In spite of submerging his engine he had his machine in action again in a quarter of an hour.


 of the crater, a little care over path-picking was desirable. Pte. L. J. Chiles (350 Ariel), 5th Middlesex, hit this stump and did a hurried semi-topple. Sgt. D. H. Evans (350 Ariel), 1st City of Westminster, opened up a little early on the descent into the crater, hit the piece of tree and went flying. On the other hand, Pte. K. S. W. Drew (350 B.S.A.), 14th Mid-dlesex, made the hazard look simple—just a couple of sensible dabs as he emerged from the crater.

Hazard Officer is Amazed
In the afternoon, the training of the morning phase over, the performances here amazed the Hazard Officer, there was such an improvement. Man after man emerged from the crater with his machine under complete control. Pte. N. W. Brooks (350 Ariel), 6th Middlesex, made a particularly polished show. Except for one wander at a bend preceding the crater, L/Cpl. L. T. Bruce (350 Ariel), "K" Sector, was, if possible, even neater. L/Cpl. J. E. Cass (350 Velocette), 25th Sussex, made a satisfying exit and then his engine screamed up to well above peaking point; as he shut off his twist-grip, the cable buckled at the twist-grip end. Both L/Cpl. E. Challis (250 O.K. Supreme), 4th R. Berks, and Pte. G. T. A. Chuter (350 Ariel), 53rd Surrey, were particularly neat and effortless at the crater. Pte. Chiles was very good on the earlier part, but failed to open up at the precise fraction of a second necessary for successful negotiation of the crater, and duly paused.

A sandy upgrade with cambers which could be misused and one which was there waiting to be used, formed the next hazard, where Q.M.S. E. J. Heath was the lecturer and demonstrator. The sand was fairly firm, but some, like 2/Lt. Shorto (350 Royal Enfield), 56th Surrey, found it was quite possible to get into a series of slides, and Fus. H. A. Bradd (350 Ariel), "K" Sector, failed to realise the significance of an adverse camber, slewed round and tumbled off.

Several were noticed with their clutches half in and half out as they waited on the starting line, and two made their restart amid the acrid fumes of burning clutch inserts. Needless to say, the use and misuse of clutches formed a theme here, even as it had done in the case of Pte. E. French's lecture at Hazard 2.

That Bump-down Restart
While the majority made their restart at the bottom of the camber instead of making the mistake of being part way up, large throttle openings were rather the rule, which would have been all right if the riders had learnt that difficult art of bumping down on the saddle at the exact instant their clutches bit. One of the neatest seen here on the morning phase was Cpl. S. J. Carter (350 Boyal Enfield), 56th Surrey. In the trial both Pte. G. T. A. Chuter (350 Ariel) and Sgt. D. G. Clark (350 A.J.S.), 1st County of London, of the earlier men, gained the maximum possible of five marks. Pte. E. Daffin (250 B.S.A.), who had automatic advance-and-retard, had difficulty on his initial getaway.

Lt. Len Heath was at the steep descent, his standard hazard. Here competitors had to stop half-way down, thereby demonstrating that they had their machines under complete control, and could stop if there were a trip wire or some other unpleasantness there. The standard here was high. Pte. A. Greenhalgh (250 Velocette), 14th Middlesex, made a perfect showing at his very first go. L/Cpl. A. J. Hudson (350 Ariel), 6th Middlesex, however, momentarily lost control of his "plot". Capt. D.H.R. Gray (350 Matchless), 12th Kent, duly put into practice that tip about using the kick-starter to get the engine turning over if the back wheel locks on the descent and refuses to get the engine rotating again. Pte W.G. Fruish (350 Ariel), 5th Middlesex, toppled over at the stopping point and brought forth from Len Heath the comment, "He's not so long in the legs as I am!" In the afternoon, Fruish caused some excitement, for after a few yards with his exhaust valve raised and his engine, therefore, dead, there was a roar of engine and he hurtled downwards; however, he got the model under control at the foot.

At the Watersplash
The watersplash was about 14in. deep, but the majority of riders showed that they had a very fair idea of the way water should be tackled. Just a few, like Pte. R.H.A. Coleman (500 Ariel), 10th Surrey, went in too fast and drowned their engines, while probably a rather larger number blipped their throttles instead of varying the opening according to the degree to which their exhaust outlets were submerged.

Pte. E. Baffin made an especially good..............


                                                                                                                                                                           next page




Sergt. W.J. Boreham (500 Matchless) gets into a front-wheel slide on the steep descent

The bomb crater hazard contained a real German-made crater. The rider is 2/Lt. M.G. Templeman (350 Norton)                                                                                                                                


showing. Pte. H. J. Ede (350 Ariel), 56th Surrey, was very, very lucky; he went considerably too fast; yet his engine carried on. Pte. K. W. Fitch (350 Royal Enfield), 55th Kent, stood high on his rests, and on the far side went astray—a slide which had he been able to bring a foot into action instanter would probably never have developed. A man who amazed the expert, Cpl. Weatherill, let alone the others who saw it, was Sgt. C. W. Verney (350 Matchless), 56th Surrey, who, in spite of sitting in the water and drowning his machine, got going again in a quarter of an hour.

Lastly, there was the "rock steps" hazard, which consisted of a gradient of about 1 in 6 with tree roots across it and baulks of timber neatly bedded in at varying angles. Sgt. Paddy Johnston, of T.T. fame, was the expert here, revealing just what not to do as well as the easy, effortless climb that is the hallmark of the good rider. In his lecture he spoke of despatches and of the need for "getting there''!

Fluffing Out
What was rather extraordinary here was the number of engines which failed to respond when opened up—that decisive flick from a small throttle opening which lifts the front wheel over a step. Time and again there was a machine which fluffed out.

Both Pte. Chuter (350 Ariel) and Pte. R. Compton (350 Levis), 1st Surrey, made perfectly controlled ascents in the trial. Pte. R. G. Bedford (490 Norton), 1st County of London, was a bit rough, but nevertheless made a safe type of climb. Then Pte. T. J. Mountford (350 Ariel), 63rd Surrey, sidled against the bank, which could readily happen where a machine was not square with one of the steps. Indeed, in the morning phase, Fus. Bradd had his handlebars almost pulled out of his hands.

As the trial proceeded, cadets on bicycles were bringing in the score sheets for Mr. Pinhard to enter up, and within minutes of the last man finishing, the results were available. The seal was set on an exceptionally well-organised event.

Best Performance of the Day.—Pte. T.J. Richbell (350 Triumph), 6th Surrey, 27 marks out of a possible 30.
Best Home Guard Performance (other than the above).—Lt. D. G. Flather (350 Triumph), 1st Derbyshire, 26 marks.
Best Civil Defence or Police Performance.—L. Sheal (249 S.O.S.), Bromley C.D., 26 marks.
Other Good Performances (in order).—Pte. P. Sopp (350 Ariel, 55th Kent), Cpl. A. F. Wheeler (500 Ariel, 56th Surrey), and Sgt. G. Young (350 Ariel, 12th Kent), 25 marks; Cpl. D. Whitling (350 Triumph, 12th Kent) and Pte. A. B. Slatter (250 O.K. Supreme, 56th Surrey), 24 marks; Pte. G. T. A. Chuter (350 Ariel, 53rd Surrey), Pte. S. Lucas (350 Levis, 1st Surrey), and 2/Lt. M. G. Templeman (350 Norton, 55th Kent), 23 marks.



Left, Pte.T.J. Richbell (350 Triumph), 6th Leatherhead, Surrey Home Guard, who made the best performance, gaining 27 marks out of a possible 30. Right, L. Sheaf (249 S.O.S.), Civil Defence, Bromley, who won the Civil Defence award with 26 marks

Winners of the Team award with 71 marks out of a possible 90; (left to right) Cpl. A. P. Wheeler (500 Ariel), Pte. J. Powell (349 Triumph) and Pte. A. R. Slatter (250 O.K. Supreme), 56th Surrey Home Guard

                                                                                                                                            Back to top of page



      Please see the Despatch Riders Index Page for full acknowledgement of source material