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James ML restoration

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Before I go diving down rabbit holes trying to trace the history of my new (to me) James ML I though I'd try here first.

 

The Frame Number is ML 6715

Engine Number AAA25428A

 

All history was lost when the previous owner passed away with nothing documented.

I've been into my copy of British forces Motorcycle by orchard and Madden and with the details above it fits into contract S6603 1943/44 which would give a WD serial Number of 5831216. It appears to have been converted to civilian use at the end of the war as it has the long mudguards and a number plate. interestingly it still retains its folding foot pegs, locking bar for the handle bars and the round tool holder.

 

What i'd love to know is who it went to when it rolled off the production line? It well documented that although procured for airborne unit it didn't see much service with them and many ended up with the Navy and apparently were used extensively by beachmasters on D day. Final question what colour, SCC2 or olive drab?

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Going on a delivery rate of 500 motorcycles per month, the chances are that the contract N° S6603 would have been finished off in early 1944, which means that it was very likely to have been painted in S.C.C. 2.

As for who it ended up with when put into service your guess is as good as mine. Airborne units certainly had them, as well as the Commandos and the Admiralty.

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Thanks for the info, I can get on with the respray. As a serving marine I'd like to think it was in service with the commando's. Where would be a good resourse to get pictures and the correct markings from?

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Does the Royal Marine Museum have any kind of curator who can assist in directing you on your search?

 

Would that not be the logical place to start seeing as it is within your "own family" as it were?

 

R

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I did try the D-day museum and was suprised when they said the had no information on the James. I'll try the Royal Marines historian before I hit the museum.

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When I first got my ML I started to make enquiries with the military and got very little info from them. It would seem many went through Childwell and then on to the units allocated with them. From what I can gather very few if any ended up with the Airborne units as they were deemed too heavy and with no drop container/cage they were not taken up, unlike the Flea and Welbike. The more rugged ML was taken on by the Commandos. There seem to be very few pictures of the ML in active service. The Most common picture is of the Commandos stood by a jeep in Normandy with an ML lying on the bonnet with German prisoners in the back of the jeep. In the background are Horsa gliders. I sort of recreated the picture when we went to Normandy for the 65th Anniversary of D-day. There is a second picture but the James is well and truly in the background. It is a picture of an ML being pushed onto a rather precarious looking ramp off the bow of a ship with men disembarking from another ship in the foreground.

 

As your ML was made in early '44 you never know it might have been one of the 300 or so ML's that went over on D-day. On the beaches they were used for communications and rounding up soldiers and pointing them in the right direction. It is from here they apparently got their nickname of the Clockwork Mouse or the Mechanical Sheepdog.

 

I appologise if I am telling you something you already know.

 

H1HU

ml on bonnet at ranville smaller.jpg

Edited by H1HU

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Sorting the garage out this morning I found the tin of paint I painted the ML with. It is Dark Camouflage Brown

BS 381C.

 

Hope this helps.

 

H1HU

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