Although it is commonly accepted that the “pannier racks” were introduced in early ’42, they must have been used (in prototype form) on the WD/C prior to April 1941. I know this because Enfield used a picture showing such a pannier equipped WD/C for an advertisement on the cover of an April 1941 issue of “MotorCycling”. Ron posted the original picture that was used for making this advertisement above. The soldiers and the background in the advertisement seem to have been added by an artist, something that was common practice back then.
The first time that the pannier racks appeared in an official Royal Enfield publication was around the same period. The Instruction Book for contract C/8732 was published in May 1941, and showed an experimental pannier frame setup. The experimental setup can be recognised by the horizontal reinforcement strip between the pannier rack and the rear carrier.
The Spare Parts List (September 1941) for this contract C/8732 (deliveries from October 27th 1941 until February 18th 1942) is also the first parts catalogue that includes the pannier frames. And contract C/11379 (contract date September 27th 1941) was a contract for “pannier frame conversion sets”! The original photograph (source: REOC Archives) that was used to make this Spare Parts List doesn’t show the horizontal bracket anymore, but it does show a carrier with long bottom brackets. These bracket extensions were needed to attach the rear numberplate, which is a bit odd, considering that rear numberplates weren’t fitted anymore since halfway 1940...
The extensions have been removed from the parts catalogue drawing, but this drawing still isn’t correct! As the picture below (from the same series as the April 1941 “publicity” picture) shows, the position of the lugs for the top fixing bolts is wrong, and the bottom bracket should be kinked. It wasn’t until the November 1944 parts catalogue for WD/CO contract S/1546 however that Enfield used the correct drawing in its parts lists!
Fact is that contemporary pictures always show WD/Cs without panniers. Pannier equipped WD/Cs can be seen on some late-war pictures, but these panniers had been retrofitted.
The retrofit action was imposed by a “Director of Military Engineering” (D.M.E.) circular, which was listed in the “Questionnaire on the Norton, B.S.A., Matchless, Ariel and Royal Enfield Motor Cycles” (“prepared by the Royal Artillery Mechanical Traction School (R.A.M.T.S.)”), issued in October 1943.
The DME circulars state “immediate action” as the importance for the “fitting of pannier bags and pillion seat conversion sets”. Now one would assume that this would be done during a rebuild. But in an article in “The MotorCycle (July 29th 1943), there are pictures of a WD/C being rebuilt at Marble Arch. The pictures show different aspects of the rebuild: this looks like a “major rebuild” to me. But the (nearly) finished motorcycle still has an old carrier (without provision for pannier frames) fitted!
On April 20th 1942 Enfield received a demand (contract C/14329) for 4.000 pillion seat conversion sets (pillion seat, footrests, rear carrier, pannier frames, fieldstand). I have also found an interesting document that had been issued by the Royal Enfield factory in October 1943: “Motor Cycles, Solo, Type WD/C 350 cc SV, Instructions for fitting Pannier Rack and Pillion Seat conversion sets”. This document lists the contracts for which these fitting instructions were meant: C/5107, C/5654, C/6125, C/7182, C/8136, C/8732, C/11463 and C/12429. (Why are the contracts C/7890 and C/7945 not mentioned?)
There is a footnote about the contract C/8732 (3.000 motorcycles) at the bottom of this instruction sheet. Machines with frame numbers # 15501 to # 16000 were supplied without panniers and pillion seat, the remaining 2.500 machines (frame numbers # 16001 to # 18500) did have panniers, pillion seat and a horizontal field stand! The picture below (source: Stilltime Archives) shows a WD/C from contract C/8732 and although there’s no direct relation between the frame number and the census number for the WD/C models, the census number does show us that this motorcycle comes from the second batch, with panniers, pillion seat etc. No doubt this picture was taken because of the new pannier frame setup!
But: one of the motorcycles in my Register (# 18318) still has “matching numbers”, and its post war history is largely known: after the war it was stored until a Military Vehicles enthusiast found it some years ago. Some of the paint on this motorcycle is still the original paint, and the original “contract plate” is still wrapped around the rear carrier! And guess what: this WD/C does not have the pannier frames rear carrier, but the “early” WD/C rear carrier!!! Very strange…
Oh, and as for the colours: theoretically we can say that the original colour that was applied at the factory was Khaki Green No. 3 for all the WD/D, WD/G and WD/C motorcycles. The new Standard Camouflage Colour No. 2 arrived almost at the same time as the WD/CO. The early WD/CO models (until approximately halfway contract C/12425), and the early WD/RE models (until approximately halfway contract S/1945) were painted in S.C.C.2, but all later WD/CO and WD/RE contracts were painted S.C.C.15 (Olive Drab). This goes for Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy contracts.
But in my Register I have a couple of motorcycles that can give us some more precise information about the date when Enfield started using S.C.C.2 (because their stocks of K.G.3 had run out): frame number # 12828 was despatched on December 1st 1942, and was still painted in khaki. Frame number # 15432 was despatched March 27th 1943, and was originally brown…