1943 BSA Airborne Folding Paratroopers Bicycle
Frame Number R40971
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.