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Belated Hello


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First of all, my apologies for breaching etiquette by jumping in and posting without even pausing to introduce myself. To be honest I followed a link from another forum and just waded in.


I am an Englishman living in Belgium and am restoring a Norton 16H which was abandoned here by the BEF in 1940. The fact that the original markings and gas detector paint etc. are still discernible has started me on research into vehicle markings and because the unit (HQ RE 2nd Infantry Div) is traceable, I am now reading everything I can find on the BEF campaign.


My background is motorcycles rather than military vehicles although I did run an lhd 109" series 3 Landrover for a while. It had spent it's service life as a reserve vehicle at Recklinghausen.


I am an inactive MVT member who nevertheless enjoys reading the magazine.


Is there anyone else on the forum with a special interest in 1939 / 40 British equipment ?



(Sometimes call myself Rik as it's easier for the Flemish to pronounce).

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Hi Rich and Welcome!


I wouldn't worry about etiquette,we're not a formal lot here! your 16H sounds interesting,was it hidden from the Germans if the original markings are intact? I must admit I've always had a soft spot for the 16H but have never owned one,someday day perhaps.





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Thanks for the welcome.


I think that my bike was dragged off and hidden by a local as it had been roughly covered with a coat of black paint. Similar stories are not uncommon here and I have read that the BEF abandoned some 20,000 motorcycles alone so perhaps that is not surprising.


Sadly, the bike has been robbed of it's engine and transmission so was more of a rolling chassis really. That is also perhaps not so surprising as the land is very low lying and almost everybody has a cellar. Pumps are always in great demand and Nortons sold the 16H motor for agricultural use post-war so it is certainly suitable for that sort of thing.


The bits that I acquired are a real time capsule. Paper labels in the headlamp and November 1939 WD marked tyres and inner tubes. It also has those nice bits like cable clips that are normally so difficult to identify and find.


All the published sources that I have come across state that Divisional Insignia was not applied to motorcycles but mine clearly has the "Crossed Keys" of 2nd Infantry Division and a Cobalt blue rear number plate as used by Royal Engineers. This carries the figure "1" which seems to have also applied to HQ Engineers at that time. Interestingly, rather than being white, the figure "1" appears to be in the same shade of yellow Gas Detector paint as the panel on the headlamp so that seems to be another deviation from regulations.


As a final point, the bike has twisted forks and shows evidence of splinter damage to the rear end. I hope that it was simply parked and the victim of an over-enthusiastic bridge-demolition charge. Apparently the concrete Belgian bridges were quite difficult to demolish.


My intention, when it's finished is to ride the route that 2nd Division took from their forward position on the River Dyle at Wavre back to Dunkirk.

Lots more research and dirty hands before that becomes reality though.

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hi Rich,

I too apologise for the late welcome but I have just got back from the Ardennes. We went for the BMVT road run weekend. I'll post more about that when I'm more awake.

we own a 1940 bedford MW so is an early war British Vehicle which is a great piece of history to own.

enjoy the site & i'll catch up when I've had some sleep.



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