Despatch Riders, type of motorcycle used

Discussion in 'Vehicles' started by Wiffer, Mar 12, 2017.

  1. Wiffer

    Wiffer Member


    would anyone be able to identify the make of the motorcycle in the attached photograph? The group are despatch riders, the one in the middle being my uncle.


    Wiffer F. Coutts - Despatch Rider .jpg
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Ask Rich Payne , he's the motorbike guru

    (I've emailed my father-in-law the photo who is also into old bikes.See who replies first.)
  3. Blutto

    Blutto Banned

    BSA M21 ?
  4. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    FinL reckons BSA M20.

    Interesting video
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2017
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  5. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    Yes. M20 from Royal Artillery Section, General Headquarters.

  6. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    It is indeed a BSA WM20. Delivered under contract C6126 during June 1940. I calculate that it would have had the frame number WM20 19157.

    According to the 1941 GHQ listings, Arm of Service serial '282' was issued to 5 Defence Regiment R.A. As such, the troops would have been 'Motorcyclists' rather than 'Despatch Riders' which was a Royal Signals 'trade', although their duties would have included the carriage of despatches.

    The motorcycle has yet to be modified by the addition of pannier equipment which probably indicates that the photo dates from1941 / 1942.
    Owen and Tricky Dicky like this.
  7. Wiffer

    Wiffer Member

    Thanks Owen, Mike and Rich. The video is indeed interesting, and the information on the bike in the photo is very helpful. My uncle was indeed a Gunner in the RA. The distinction between motorcyclist and despatch rider is new to me, so thanks for clarifying this also.

  8. Kellard

    Kellard Active Member

    If you're interested and in the area the Royal Signals Museum has the complete collection of DR motorcycles from WW1 to the 1980's
  9. TeddySkwerrul

    TeddySkwerrul New Member

    Is anyone aware of any despatch driver motorcycles on display in any museums in Bristol, Dover, or Norwich. I am particularly interested in motorcycles that would have been used to ferry information from Y Service sites to processing facilties during World War II.
  10. GeoffMNZ

    GeoffMNZ Well-Known Member

    When I was about 18 I bought a Matchless 500 and when I took it home my Mum said "I rode one of those in the war" . From memory we determined her's was a 350cc model. Mum was in the ATS and was attached to a Heavy AA unit in the London area.
    Thanks for posting as I needed a prompt to undertake more research on my Mums War Story.
    4jonboy and Quarterfinal like this.
  11. Quarterfinal

    Quarterfinal Well-Known Member

    Not wartime, but saw this picture earlier today and thought a bit of repurposing, as they say nowadays, was evident:
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2023
    4jonboy likes this.
  12. TeddySkwerrul

    TeddySkwerrul New Member

    Thank you. The Royal Signals museum may be too far south, but we’ll try to add it to our intinerary. Please keep the suggestions coming.
  13. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Here's a Matchless with an ATS rider, or did your mum ride one of the earlier girder-forked versions ?

    Matchless 21 Army ATS.jpg
    GeoffMNZ likes this.
  14. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Ideas for places near Norwich

    Maybe ask this place if they have any.
    Norfolk Motorcycle Museum – Just another WordPress site

    They might even have some here.
    Norfolk Tank Museum
    Norfolk Attraction | Tanks at the Muckleburgh Military Collection

    Fire off an email or ask on their socials
  15. GeoffMNZ

    GeoffMNZ Well-Known Member

    Not sure, mine had similar forks as this one. 1955 model
  16. Quarterfinal

    Quarterfinal Well-Known Member

    Last edited: Mar 31, 2023
  17. I know theres a BSA wm20 at Bletchley park if my memory serves me correctly I think I took a photo of it when I was there last year

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