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Pommes Frite Express


Strange title for a show report but it was kind of that weekend.......



Jim and I headed off to Ciney military expo in Belgium early Saturday morning – about a 8-9 hr journey. Jim was asleep as we drove down the M4 – he was driving. We spent a small fortune on Redbull ‘energy’ drink and doesn’t that work. After I put a teat on the bottle and dosed Jim up with caffeine and he came back to life.



Never quite know what is going to happen if you hang around with Jim but something always does. We blasted down the M4 to get to the channel tunnel. First time I have ever been through the tunnel and it is actually very efficient (on the way back Jim saw an incident with a woman who’s trousers where down by her knees – but ‘what goes on tour stays on tour’).





The crossing was around twenty five minutes and just the other side of Calais we had to deliver some canvas to a customer who has sheds full of Mv’s and some rare ones in there too. After the business was done we were invited into his has for beer and to catch up on all the gossip. By this time and after about 8 hours of Jim complaining he come with this idea that we should head off into Bethune to find a fantastic ‘shack’ that sells the best pomme frites in Europe – Jims words, not mine.


Well you would kind of think that it would be an easy enough place to find, alas no. I have never been to Bethune but I can say this in confidence that now I know every single road, one way system, track, lane, lay-by and every building in the flipping town. It was dark which made things worse but eventually after about 18 days we found the said place. Asked what size of portion I wanted I said large. Well large over here is about a handful – the large in Bethune would fill an M10 ammo trailer. We tried to eat them all but decided that we would save some for latter on – smart move.


The next move was to head to Ciney – about 3 hours away. Find a bar and settle in for the night. Just as we got to Ciney we got a call from the Belgium MVT and we were invited to the BMVT’s bar ( I had my nose put out of joint at this point as he got the call not me – I kind of thought I was more of a ‘face’ forward slash ‘legend’ then Jim but clearly not). The call went like this ‘Jim come to our bar 10km outside of Ciney – just on the edge of Marche’. OK that is great – you try finding a place in Belgium, late at night, its dark, I am tired, I have PMT and neither of us can speak French. But the night was young – 23:00 and we do actually find it.


We were welcomed with open arms by the BMVT when we walked into the bar/clubhouse. I have to say that these guys went above and beyond with their hospitality and I will say something else – our hobby here could learn and awful lot from these guys. The ages ranged from teenagers to the older generation – all sat around talking, laughing, joking, smoking and drinking and dancing. Met some wonderful people who just made us feel so at home – supplied us with beer and fun.


What struck me most was that everyone just talked and had fun. The music was playing and the beer was flowing and about this time is was getting on towards 03:00. Too late to find the hotel so we were offered to stay there at the clubhouse with everyone else. Up stays they have their billet where they put up their cots and crash for the night – another good idea by them. But before we went to bed I remembered we still had some pomme frites left from earlier so we brought them in. Cold fatty chips at 03:30 in the morning is actually a great idea washed down with some spirit that they had been serving us all night. The BMVT guys thought we were plain nuts – ‘ you English are crazy’. Not crazy – just flipping hungry!


We had a couple of hours sleep, got up at 07:30, drunk another pint of Redball and headed towards the fair. The last time I was there it was around 7 euros to get in – it was 10 euros on Sunday.

If you are a collector of WW2 then this really is the place to be – it is massive, very focused and never seen it so busy. Both of the halls were packed. Another thing that stood out was that the prices of everything for sale has gone up. The humble jerrycans were 4-5- euros and saw an SS one for 300 euros. Saw and original US paratrooper uniform for 2.5k euros. I am not a collector so a lot of it was just a blur for me but I do like looking at all. Jim and I had breakfast – pomme frites and sausage and then went our separate ways as business had to be done.





The world may be in a lot of pain at the moment but a lot of money was being spent there. A good sprinkling of British business’s there too and all were busy. Whatever you collect it is there. After all the business was done we met up ready to make the journey back home. We could only go home after we had loaded the Range Rover – we went down full up but seem to come back with even more ‘stuff’. The ‘stuff’ looked like junk to me but Jim insisted it was an ‘investment’.



Left about 15:30 and started the 8 hour journey back. I took over driving as Jim had just about had it by then. Now I used to driving a 1.4 Honda Civic automatic (with CD player) but I am sat up behind the wheel of a Range Rover that has about 500 BHP – now what fund did I have driving up through Belgium and France? Well I am not telling and Jim won’t know...he was a kip! Didn’t know Range Rovers could go that speed. Didn’t know that Range Rovers were that good off road and didn’t know that you could hit something without causing to much damage.....I was getting tired at this point but the music collection of Jims pushed me through – listening to Ibiza Club Classics whilst blasting along helps!


I got us safely to Dunkerque, I was pleased with that....but we were supposed to be in Calais ( I swear that they have swopped them around – Calais was at Dunkerque the last time I was there). Had to stop to stock up for Jims wine cellar and then onwards to the Tunnel. We were early but it was so busy we had to get the next train. No big deal and give us a chance to get something to eat – yep you got it right POMME FRITES!


Crossed through the tunnel which is where the woman was who has something going on with her trousers that caught Jims attention – I was too busy reading a book to take any notice.


The efficiency of the tunnel really is fantastic compared to the ferries – we just drove off and straight onto the motorway. At the point a wide boy in a Merc tried to have a burn up but lost. I would like to point out the no speed limits were harmed in the making of the burn up and no C&U regs where injured....

Got back to Jims around 23:00, had a coffee and I left for home – about a 2 hour drive.


To conclude, wonderful weekend, met some great people and very impressed with the BMVT so much so I am thinking of becoming a member. Got some leads on some Autocars and find a very nice fuel tanker! And thanks to Jim for his hospitality too – I wanted for nothing.





























Our Billet!






Don't ask












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Thanks for the show report Jack, very funny!


And you guys did come across a couple of rare trucks! First one is a GMC ACK-353 1-1/2 ton 4x4 Cargo Truck, second one a White 704S.














Edited by mcspool
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Well done Hanno and a prize on its way to you! I was hoping that someone would pick up on them and interesting story behind them too!


My pleasure, Jack. I'll be sitting by the letter box ;)


Not sure if you mean you have an interesting story behind them, but what I find interesting about both of these trucks is that they are exemplary of disarray of the early war years. US-built vehicles ordered by the French Armed Forces, some of which were used by the French Army, and captured and put in action again by the Germans. Other batches of vehicles were diverted to other allies, most notably Britain and the USSR. So on the Eastern Front it was quite possible the Germans and Soviets used the same type of American-built truck, paid for by the French!



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