Driving Licence

Discussion in 'Service Records' started by 51highland, Oct 28, 2010.

  1. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    This might be one for the Vets. Did you HAVE to have a Provisional Driving Licence for British roads during the war? Have found my Father in Law's licence dated 1940 - 1941. Cost 5 shillings. Seems 94/5 baty, 18th field Reg R.A. were in Devon somewhere from September 1940.
    He told me that after getting home from Dunkirk, he was put on a charge for not having a hat.!!! by an over Zealous new Sergeant, and that for a few months after, they carried Broom sticks to practice with as rifles, apparently shouting Bang Bang when they simulated firing.

    I was under the impression that no licence was needed.
    Have enlarged the licence, actual size closed is 2.5inches (65mm)wide by 4inch (100mm) high

    Attached Files:

    Wendy67 likes this.
  2. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron


    When I sent away for my Army Record Sheets I was pleased to see copies of my Army Driving Licence as shown below.

    The first one, dated 9/2/43 was after passing out on my 12 week course at Whitby as a Driver/Wireless Op and the second one dated 10/12/46 was supplied so that it could be swapped for a civilian one on my return to England.

    As I've mentioned on a previous thread, I have never in fact passed a civilian driving test !

    Still....... I've now been driving 68 years and, to the best of my knowlege, have never killed anybody :)


    Attached Files:

    CL1 likes this.
  3. 51highland

    51highland Very Senior Member

    Thanks Ron, was that a civilian licence as my Father-in-laws? seems strange that he would need a civilian licence for war work as it were. Strange thing is he never drove anything other than his cycle into his 70's, in civvie life.
    I remember my first prov licence in the 60's the same design as that, but it cost 10 bob then, for the youngsters 50p.
  4. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    was that a civilian licence as my Father-in-laws? seems strange that he would need a civilian licence for war work as it were.

    Never thought about it before, but it must have been purely for driving on British roads.

    We certainly never bothered with driving licences in all the overseas areas :)

  5. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Ron -
    what you have shown is in fact- a certificate of COMPETENCE to drive - not the actual licence .....I was charged with not having a current licence to drive on my return to the Uk - but I was happy to show my Competence to drive certificate and I was aquitted but reminded strongly to go through the test again to achieve a current licence.....so - so far at this time I have had one Army test -two British Civilian tests- two Ontario tests - one for Alberta and another for B.C.

  6. Vitesse

    Vitesse Senior Member

    The driving licence rules changed on the outbreak of war. Driving tests were immediately suspended. A National Service Driving Licence, which replaced the provisional licence, was introduced - this cost 5 shillings and could last for up to a year. It could be issued to people who had not passed a test - nor even previously held any sort of driving licence - providing they could satisfy the issuing council that they were required to drive on work of national importance, were not suffering from a disability and were "suitable persons to be granted such a licence".

    Full licences still had to be renewed in the normal way.

    The rules changed again in early 1940: holders of National Service Driving Licences were now to be required to take the full test and no further NSDLs would be issued. However, I don't think this was ever enforced.

    At the end of July 1940, the rules changed yet again. All holders of driving licences for Group 1 - full or provisional - were now authorised to drive HGVs. This also applied to NSDL holders: these were "all vehicle" licences anyway. This effectively abolished the need for an HGV licence and holders of one were told that they had no need to reapply when they ran out. Existing PSV licences were also extended by a year and would now be valid for two years not one.

    These rules remained in force until driving tests were reintroduced in November 1946. In general terms - but there were some exceptions, notably people convicted of motoring offences - anyone who had held an NSDL for more than 12 months as of November 1st 1946 was exempted from the test, providing they applied for a full licence before November 1st 1947.
  7. David Layne

    David Layne Well-Known Member

    One of my father's Lancaster crew mates turned up with a car that belonged to his parents. Having no license the whole crew piled into the automobile and made their crewmate drive them all round the airfield perimeter several times to prove his driving competence.
  8. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    Intersting post, my father had the same licence he had his before the war and after the war he sent his documents to the appropriate authority and it came back as an all classes licence.
    Apparantly it was due to expire in 1941 and he was told to carry on driving.

    Most of the people I worked with in the seventies got their licences through the armed forces, one comment being I hate the Colwyn Bay Roads and coast road, it been one of the places they trained on.
  9. Ednamay

    Ednamay wanderer

    In 1940 my father (on loan from the navy to the army) learned to drive a naval lorry towing a 4" naval mobile gun around the east coast. Later he drove an army lorry, still towing the gun, and had no sort of licence at all.

  10. Vitesse

    Vitesse Senior Member

    The TUC Archives at Warwick University seem to contain some information on National Service Driving Licences:

    Trades Union Congress : Trade Unionism, Trades Union Congress, Organisation, predominantly 1920-60

    File ref: MSS. 292/58/8

    Hansard has some interesting references too.

    Driving tests to be reintroduced from January 1st 1940:

    MOTOR DRIVING TESTS. (Hansard, 15 November 1939)

    Arrangements regarding lapsed PSV and HGV licences:

    PERSONNEL (DRIVING LICENCES). (Hansard, 9 May 1940)

    Licences for military personnel driving on duty:

    DRIVING LICENCES. (Hansard, 21 May 1940)

    MOTOR LICENCES (SERVICE DRIVERS). (Hansard, 4 July 1940)

    New regulations, including the abolition of the need to carry L plates, were included in the Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) (Amendment) Provisional Regulations, 1940

    Sir John Reith making clear that service personnel driving private vehicles also needed a civilian licence in addition to their military permit:

    DRIVING LICENCES. (Hansard, 11 July 1940)

    Possible change of that rule:

    DRIVING LICENCES. (Hansard, 31 July 1940)

    Sir John again, explaining that service drivers didn't need a civilian licence to drive military vehicles if they had a form A2308:

    DRIVING LICENCES. (Hansard, 14 August 1940)

    Rule changed:

    DRIVING PERMITS. (Hansard, 21 August 1940)

    This would seem to indicate that - in view of the dates on it - the licence in the first post was either an extension of a National Service Licence previously held or a new one to enable him to drive civilian vehicles.

    Confused Hull MP who doesn't appear to have realised driving tests were suspended :lol::

    MOTOR VEHICLES (DRIVING TESTS). (Hansard, 8 October 1940)

    The name of the NSDL seems to have reverted to "provisional", but still without restrictions, in October 1940:

    PROVISIONAL DRIVING LICENCES. (Hansard, 16 October 1940)

    It's difficult to know how driving tests could have been reintroduced for civilians in 1940 as according to press reports in September 1939 and the November 15th piece above, all testers had been transferred to "special defence duties" - presumably that meant they were teaching forces, ARP, ambulance etc personnel to drive!

    The law clarified in 1946:

    Driving Permits (Hansard, 7 March 1946)

    Full licences for service personnel:

    Ex-Service Personnel (Driving Licences) (Hansard, 1 April 1946)
    dbf likes this.
  11. Wendy67

    Wendy67 New Member

    I have just discovered that my mother had a Provisional Driving Licence issued by the Middlessex County Council, valid 23 July 1940 until 22 October 1940. She was determined to "do her bit" for the war, and lied about her age, as she was only 20. This enabled her to drive ambulances for the London Auxiliary Ambulance Service. Being short, she had to stand up to double declutch! These past two years, one incident really disturbed her; it was being told to drive in the blackout from Barons Court to the East End. She asked where and how to get there, and was told to "follow the flames". Could that have been during the blitz? Her task on that occasion was to drive injured/dead children to the hospitals.
    Maybe one of the pages in her licence has disappeared because the next page is a driving licence valid from 17 Nov 1941 to 16 Nov 1942, and had to be renewed annually until around the mid '50s when it was valid for three years.
  12. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Bumping this thread in the fond hope that some of you saw last night's TV program "100 year old drivers"

    If you missed it, try and get it on Catch-up.

    I particulaly enjoyed the 100 year old driver who, when his his son pointed out his faulty kerb hugging at a roundabout, said "Bugger the kerb ! "

    Looking back at an earlier posting I see I said I had been driving 68 years.

    That figure must now be updated to 72 years :)

  13. spidge


    I do hope you have changed vehicles once or twice Ron! ;)


  14. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron



    I confess that I now run a very sedate (and pretty small ) Toyota Yaris.

    It gets me where I want to, takes up minimum parking space and is very green when it comes to fuel consumption.

    I also fully intend to drive until someone says I can't !

  15. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Hi Ron,

    Both my father and father-in-law have the same healthy attitude as you. :)

    Best wishes

  16. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I recently passed my medical to drive- which is a two year thing after aged 80 and as I am now 90 - I can drive until aged 92….which gives me some 72 years of

    driving all sorts of Vehicles- latest of which is a Chrysler Seberg - which manages to stay within the 110 KPH- well now and again…

  17. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    I don't know anything about what sort of driving licence my maternal grandfather had, but I do know that he never had to sit a driving test; he was proud of that. He would have been 99 years young on the 31st of this month if he was still with us.

    As a 'young-un' I recall he used to drive everywhere at about 30 miles per hour. Great North Road, 60 miles per hour section, he's doing 30 miles per hour... in the fast lane. Me, I'm sat there thinking 'how did his generation win the war?'

    Anyway, one day my uncle Dave (also now no longer with us - ex RAF Regiment) telephones and says 'help. I've broken down near Bamburgh'. So, my grandfather and I travel up the A1 to Bamburgh (to all Yorkshire types reading this, Bamburgh really is god's own country - try it).

    We arrive, fix his car and then grandfather says 'better let us take this back and see what the garage says, I'll leave my car with you'. So, that's what happened. My grandfather and I travelled back in uncle Dave's big engined car... at over 80 miles per hour for the most part. I couldn't believe it, my 'slow' driving grandfather was acutally a 'Formula 1 type'. When I stepped out of the car, I looked at him, probably jaw dropped-mouth open, and he just smiled and winked at me.

    Hidden talent that generation and modest with it. They didn't need licences and certificates, they just got on with it and did their duty/best.

    Really marvellous memories. Thanks for bumping this thread, Ron.


  18. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I've seen cars mount the pavement, but I've never seen a driver buggering the kerb. Oh well, it takes all sorts, I suppose....
  19. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Giving this old thread a bump to bring it up to date.

    As we enter 2015 I find it sobering to consider that I have been driving some 72 years, having first learnt to drive in the Army.

    I drive very little these days, mainly short trips for shopping etc., and if I need to go into central London I use my friendly local car hire.
    This means I am not bothered by inner London congestion charges and non-existant parking spaces.

    I can visualise a time in the future when it will not be practical for me to maintain my own transport but for the time being I am still master of my own destiny and remain a very staid user of the local roads.

    Any other long-time drivers still gracing the roads ?

  20. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    My father was still driving up to the time he died at the age of 97. Only to the local supermarket etc. He started driving before tests were introduced. You bought a licence at the police station in those days.

    Regarding driving, parking and congestion charge I know three relatively young professionals working in London. None of them own a car and only one has a licence. One cycles everywhere while the others use public transport. Of course all earn enough to take taxi, train, plane etc as necessary. Perhaps cars will only be for the poor one day.


Share This Page