1943 BSA Airborne Folding Paratroopers Bicycle
Frame Number R37618
Matching Michelin ‘WD’ War Grade Tyres
BSA ‘Model 40’ Saddle
When I started out researching BSA Airborne bicycles, the Canadian military collector Colin Stevens was the leading authority on the subject, having compiled what was then the best information website on the subject. We became colleagues and, eventually, when he was reducing to focus on other areas of military collection, I bought his personal bicycles. This was his favourite 2nd Pattern BSA Airborne. It is 100% authentic and is as good as any I have seen.
THE BSA AIRBORNE
The BSA airborne bicycle was used in battle, but not as much as originally planned. The plan appears to have been that the bicycles would be mass produced and make the airborne soldiers mobile once they had landed. It was better and faster than walking. The British Airborne Forces used a few on operations, but as larger vehicles such as the jeep were available by June 1944, the bicycles were far less important.
Some of these bicycles are reported to have been used on the first airborne raid into Norway, as some are reported to have been found in the wreckage of the gliders. A few of these bicycles appear in memoirs about the battles of 1944-45 and a few show up in photographs – but only a few. Most photographs show them being used in training. Ironically, when the airborne did use bicycles in great numbers on the advance to Wismar in Germany in 1945, they had to use captured bicycles!
Photographic evidence shows that a few of these bicycles were carried by Commandos on raids.
On D-Day, June 6, 1944, each Commando unit appears to have had a bicycle platoon though the bicycles seem to have been discarded within a few days.
Ironically the greatest use of the BSA airborne bicycle in action was by British and Canadian infantry on the invasion Normandy, France (D-Day 1944 June 6) in the second wave. Some had been used on the invasion of Sicily in 1943 by Canadian infantry (Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment “Hasty Pees” re: Farley Mowat).
Photographic evidence shows that some Canadian and British troops in armoured vehicles acquired BSA airborne bicycles and hung them on their vehicles, apparently for use as runabouts when time and circumstances permitted, just as owners of Recreation Vehicles (RVs) park the big beast and use smaller vehicles to running about on errands. Some BSA airborne bicycles MAY have been taken into combat zones by air force personnel as bicycles are very useful items to have around airfields.
Below, you can see the Queen inspecting the troops, in a 1944 photo.
Thanks to Colin Stevens for this information and these original BSA Airborne Bicycle photos.
To visit his excellent military vehicle website, PLEASE CLICK HERE
ORIGINAL TOOLBAG & BSA TOOLS