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rupert condick

W.D. Number plates WW2 Middle East

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Hi

From what little research i have done these number plates were fitted (or painted on) to MV's in the Middle east pre WW2,

but stopped being used  around March 1944.

they were fitted even though the vehicles had WD Census numbers. they were written in English and Arabic.

I would like more information on these plates  a really good picture would be handy.

regs

rupert

sc00001d03_1-1-1.jpg

morris-pu-8cwt-gs-new-zealand-forces.jpg

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You realise you have posted this in the Naval section of the forum?

 My father was out there in 42/43 in 58RSU and I have had a look through his photos and can't see this sort of number plate with dual language. Maybe it was a  local thing - perhaps for vehicles operating in Alexandria.

RAF-Plate2.jpg

RAF-Plate.jpg

WD-Plate.jpg

WD-Plate2.jpg

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The website "License Plates of the World" shows under "Egypt" a black on a white plate with red vertical central bar [matching the style in the second picture] captioned as 'British Forces 1930-1945'. It's described as a replica, and oddly has different numbers in English and Arabic; those in the two photos are the same numbers in both scripts. The two 1930s-1940s civilian plates shown on the website are white on black, in different styles.

Military vehicles in Britain had civilian registration plates until early in WW2, as well as census numbers, and some at least kept them for some time, although new vehicles no longer had them allocated. My suggestion would be that something similar happened in Egypt, where the UK had administrative control, so that pre-war and early wartime vehicles in Egypt had civilian style plates and kept them, at least in some cases, but no more were allocated to arrivals after some point  in late 1939/early 1940.

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Some RAF vehicles carry the arabic some don't. .  The dual WD*** plus arabic appears in some pre war Palestine photos Ted.

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Hi,

My mistake with the navy thing,

Middle East numbers were discontinued in about 1943, from then on just using the standard census number displayed in Arabic.

I am trying to get the correct Arabic scrip for the writing under the Arabic numbers, guess at some sort of translation for WD.

23238819.thumb.jpg.66536a761fd6027f6a9108237fb71c97.jpg

this is the later example (although taken in Italy)

regs

Rupert

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Discontinued about 1943 tied in better with my father's photos - whereas discontinued in 1945 seemed unlikely. In my dad's stuff there are probably books on the Desert War so might look in there and see if we can refine the date.

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Posted (edited)

Hi Rupert. I managed to decipher the arabic script on the numberplates in your pics. It reads “ al jaish al britani” (       الجيش البريطاني) which translates to “the british military”, so not quite a literal translation of “war department”. I can just about read standard arabic script, but there are so many ways of writing in arabic that it takes me a while to make sense of what I’m seeing a lot of the time. Number plates are the worst because they squeeze in so much into a given space and there are no abbreviations in arabic!

Hope this helps.

Edited by ltwtbarmy
Added arabic script and explanation

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They do indeed say british military in arabic. The numbers are the arabic version of the british numbers.

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All of the pictures posted are of vehicles with number plates which are consistent in style [some white on black, some black on white, admittedly] and location, with the exception of the ambulance in the Italian one, which has a number painted on in a more or less random location, partly across the Red Cross marking. At seven digits it seems too long to be a VRN. It may well be a census number, I don't know, but the presence of an Arabic version of the number implies it was added whilst the vehicle was still in north Africa, as there would be no need for it in Italy, which may affect the dating. It also implies, I think, that the vehicle had no number plate when it was done, as the Arabic version of the number plate would make the Arabic version of the longer number unnecessary [I'm assuming that the Arabic version is for the benefit of Egyptian civil police].

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