1943 BSA Airborne Folding Paratrooper Bicycle #R40971

Infantrymen checking bicycles aboard an LCI(L) of the 2nd Canadian (262nd RN) Flotilla. Southampton, England, 6 June 1944. (L-R): Privates Reg Martin and Rodney MacNeill, both of The Lorne Scots (Peel, Dufferin and Halton Regiment); Private George Banning of The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (M.G.). Date: 6 June 1944 Place: Southampton, England, Extent: 1 photograph ; 2 1/4 sq. in. Negative Film B/W - safety film Terms of use Credit: Lt Gilbert Alexander Milne / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-136999
Restrictions on use: Nil
Copyright: Expired Additional name(s) Photographer: Gilbert Alexander Milne, 1914- MLU Note: Probably June 4th (or the morning of the 5th). The LCI is still in harbour in Southampton. The rifle companies (of the NNSH so probably all) embarked on the morning of the 4th then found out about the delay. In this photo, the men have doffed their helmets and gear (and rifles it seems) probably in the bunks below deck. The LCI flotilla didn't cast off till the afternoon of the 5th, when the LCI moved down the Southampton channel. In the evening of the 5th they passed between the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth into the open sea where they would regroup. The bicycles were supposed to speed the second wave regiments to the front once they disembarked the LCI, but they were rarely if ever used. Veterans say a lot of French kids got new bikes that day. Check this photo against PA115614 -- same time. This is 262-276 (#1705-"Lucky" with the Cdn maple leaf that says "Canada".) 1705 was a mixed loading carrying members of the Highland Light Infantry of Canada, Stormont Dundas Glengarrian Highlanders, the Defence and Employment Platoon of 9 Brigade Headquarters and members of the Canadian Provost Corp. In Southampton on June 5th the sun sets at 9:14pm. Official photo caption suggests two men are from Lorne Scots, but that regiment was Defence Regt for 1st Corps in Italy, so that must be incorrect. Not sure who they

Infantrymen checking bicycles aboard an LCI(L) of the 2nd Canadian (262nd RN) Flotilla. Southampton, England, 6 June 1944. (L-R): Privates Reg Martin and Rodney MacNeill, both of The Lorne Scots (Peel, Dufferin and Halton Regiment); Private George Banning of The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (M.G.).
Date: 6 June 1944
Place: Southampton, England,
Extent: 1 photograph ; 2 1/4 sq. in. Negative Film B/W – safety film
Terms of use
Credit: Lt Gilbert Alexander Milne / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-136999
Restrictions on use: Nil
Copyright: Expired
Additional name(s)
Photographer: Gilbert Alexander Milne, 1914-

1943 BSA Airborne Folding Paratroopers Bicycle

2nd Pattern

Frame Number R40971

(Now sold)

I’m selling this World War 2 BSA Airborne for a friend. I’ve inspected it, taken photographs and video, and my assessment is as follows:

It’s an older restoration, repainted with new transfers (decals). The wheels are not original, but are of the correct era. The saddle is a Wrights from this era; the leather is broken on the right side, but it is usable. The handlebar grips are repro and slightly damaged but serviceable. The other parts look authentic to me. The frame is in good condition, it rides well and folds easily. If you can afford to buy a BSA Airborne in unrestored condition with 100% correct parts, I’d advise you to purchase it. However, this is a good prospect if you want a cheaper example in good condition.

 

 

 

 

FOLDING THE BSA AIRBORNE

 

 

 

 

 

 

VIDEO OF BSA AIRBORNE BEING FOLDED

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.