Archive for June 6th, 2014

June 6, 2014

Small Moto


Remembering the Day of Days seventy years ago brings countless accounts from numerous members of the expeditionary force venturing onto mainland Europe with Berlin as their destination.
The first ‘ashore’ were the paratroop regiments of the British Army and the Airborne of the Americans. Some jumped, others glided in. To keep momentum and troop movement up a small packable motorcycle was developed. Packed into the tube shaped parachute canister it was dropped along with the troops, field assembled, well unfolded, and push started to give speedier mobility across the French  countryside than yomping with a fully laden pack on. These miniature 100cc Excelsior Welbikes were brought along for the the D-Day landings along the Normandy coast on June 6th1944. The 2stroke Villiers engine had a top speed of 30mph and range of 90 miles.

Even though they took mere seconds to assemble, the paras typically landed behind lines and had to get under cover quickly, or the differential fall rates of trooper and tube meant they were separated by some distance upon landing. They were generally used as an airfield runnabout and post war curiosity.