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Wednesday, 17 September 2014 11:03

‘BATTLE BUS’London Transport Museum’s recently restored London B-type bus No. B2737 is to be converted into a camouflaged First World War ‘Battle Bus’ and will visit battlefields in France including Belgium, Arras, Passchendaele and Zonnebeke near Ypres, in September 2014 to commemorate the sacrifices made by transport workers during the conflict.

London buses played a vital role in supporting Britain and her allies during the First World War with more than a thousand buses commandeered by the War Department for service on the front lines. Many of these were driven to France and Belgium, often by the same men who had driven them through London’s streets. This was the first use of motorised transport in a war and the converted ‘battle buses’ would travel in conveys at night, often of over 70 vehicles, to transport troops to the front lines. They would take fresh troops out and return with the sick and wounded, or men leaving the trenches for rest periods. One entry in a driver’s log book states ‘returned empty’, a stark and chilling reminder to the many lives lost during the conflict.


Lost in France PDF Print E-mail

When German forces made their way across France during WW2, plundering food, wine and military kit as they went, one of their most prized booties must have been the Citroën-Kégresse. Ian Cushway tells the story of this amazing rubber belt half-track…

lost in france

When asked by Tsar Nicholas II to develop a vehicle that could travel at all speeds over deep snow, ice or roads covered with lightly packed snow – a vehicle that could leave the road without slowing down – French engineer Adolphe Kégresse came up with a novel solution. He would go on to replace the rear wheels with an endless track system, using a flexible rubber belt.

That was in 1906, and he was the tender age of 27 at the time; seven years later Kégresse, believing that he had perfected the system, applied for a patent in his native France, but then the Bolshevik revolution spoiled his plans when he had to flee Russia.

The concept of the half-track, however, wasn’t exactly new. The Holt Manufacturing Company (later to become Caterpillar) had toyed with the idea in 1913, and the likes of Lombard and others had produced half-track machines from 1916. However, the Frenchman’s way of doing things was altogether more refined and sophisticated and offered a unique combination of performance, ride and reliability. Moreover, unlike caterpillar tracks, his rubber band didn’t tear up the surface of the road – and this would inevitably add to its versatility and usefulness.


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