Canadian Military Motorcycles

Canadian Military Motorcycles

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3223983)

"Little Joe Series in Germany". Members of the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade Group's Provost Corps receive an assignment from their sergeant. L/Cpl. George Monteith and Cecil McCormick and Sergeant Alex Webber, NATO Exercise "Battle Royal", 13 March 1954.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3225472)

A despatch rider of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division talking with Frenchwomen, Normandy, 9 September 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3225473)

Despatch riders of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, Normandy, 9 September 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3224478)

Despatch rider Cecil Whidden of 25th Canadian Infantry Signals Squadron on exercise, 25 January 1951.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3225468)

Sergeant R.H. Easby (L) handing a message to a despatch rider, Signalman J.K. Armstrong, with his Triumph motorcycle at 5th Canadian Armoured Division Headquarters, 17 March 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3225481)

Despatch riders of the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade outside Brigade Headquarters, Italy, 12 September 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3224477)

Despatch rider L/Cpl Paul Harvey of Royal 22nd Canadian Regiment with his motorcycle, 15 Sep 1951.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3223986)

Canadian Officers Training Corps at Canadian Provost Corps School. Officer Cadet L.G. Neily receiving motorcycle instruction from S/Sgt. G.E. Sheperd, 21 May 1950.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3223987)

Canadian Officers Training Corps at Canadian Provost Corps School. Officer Cadets receive motorcycle training. L. to r.: J.R. Waterton, W.P. Stoker, C.A. Walker, A.G. Ward and the instructor, 21 May 1950.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3225484)

Despatch riders of the 48th Highlanders of Canada, England, 19 April 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3225482)

Despatch rider Private H. McDowell of The 48th Highlanders of Canada delivering a message to the battalion's advanced headquarters, Regalbuto, Italy, 4 August 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3519952)

Despatch rider with motorcycles at 2nd Canadian Corps Headquarters during Exercise SPARTAN, England, 12 March 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3225483)

Canadian despatch riders near Tunis, Tunisia, July 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3223981)

Two despatch riders of the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade Group check their position. L/Bdr Roy Springstead and Sgmn C. McQuaig, 22 September 1954.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3225480)

Despatch rider trainee learning about the operation of the Norton motorcycle engine, 1 May 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3563530)

Infantrymen of the South Saskatchewan Regiment locating German Panzerfaust anti-tank launchers in a store window, Oldenburg, Germany, 3 May 1945.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3613174)

Canadian Army crew on motorcycles in Northwest Europe, c1944, with a Lewis gun and side car.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3613164)

Canadian Army crew on motorcycles in Northwest Europe, c1944, with a side car.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3613163)

Canadian Army crew on motorcycles in Northwest Europe, c1944, one with a side car.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3203490)

Canadian infantrymen riding a motorcycle with sidecar, France, 14 June 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3226327)

Personnel of the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa on motorcycles near Caen, France, 15 July 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3223979)

Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Craftman Ernest Simpson uncrates a Norton 16H motorcycle as part of the corps' 'Demothing' Equipment functions, 22 Nov 1950.

The Norton 16H is a designation given to British motorcycles made between 1911 through to 1954 with various modifications and refers to a single cylinder Norton 490cc side valve engine with a bore and stroke of 79 x 100 mm. The H denotes the Home model as distinct from the Colonial export model. Norton was the main military motorcycle supplier prior to and during the Second World War with a total of nearly 100,000 produced. British Army Nortons were also supplied to the Commonwealth forces such as Australian, New Zealand, India and the Canadian Army.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3607582)

Canadian Army in the UK, Norton motorcycles, c1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3223984)

Exercise "Grand Repulse". Two members of the Fusiliers Mont-Royal fix 'snortin' Norton motorcycle in the field. In helmet, René Laflamme and Jean-Louis Auger, 14 Oct 1953.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3588776)

Lieutenant G. Murray Williams, HQ Company, 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, riding a Matchless G3L, 350cc OHV, 1943 contract motorcycle, during the advance from Lembeck through Coesfeld, Germany, 30 March 1945.  

The author's uncle, Frederick Walter Estabrooks, served with the Canadian Provost Corps in Europe during the Second World War.  Fred described using a number of different military motorcycles during his service as a policeman and despatch rider during the war, and this led the author to investigate what they were.  A number of useful photos of Canadian military motorcycles in service during the Second World War can be found on the Library and Archives Canada website, and a few of them are included here.

Canadian military motorcycles have been in use with various elements of the Canadian Forces since at least 1908.  For specific and detailed information on the subject of the Canadian use of military motorcycles, the author highly recommends the 2010 book put together by author Clive M. Law.  He has compiled an impressive history on the subject with the title "Military Motorcycles in Canada", Service Publications, Box 33071, Ottawa, Ontario.  Clive recently passed away, but his son is keeping his stories alive, through his website at www.servicepub.com.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3395155)

Motorcycle driven by Capt Hopkins, Niagara Camp, Ontario, 28 June 1916.  

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3395143)

Motorcycle with side car, Ammunition Park, June 1916.  

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3217200)

Pte C.M. Johnston, CASC, Aug 1917.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3381009)

His Majesty's Pigeon Service, despatch Rider starting out with birds for service in the trenches, November 1917.

(City of Vancouver Archives Photo, AM640-S1-: CVA 260-1915)

Military Motorcycle with sidecar, James Crookall and Smith, Mohawk, Ontario, 1918.

(City of Vancouver Archives Photo, AM640-S1-: CVA 260-1732)

Military Motorcycle with sidecar, James Crookall, Ontario, 1918.

(City of Vancouver Archives Photo, AM640-S1-: CVA 260-1235)

Harley Davidson motorcycle, British Columbia, 1918.

(City of Vancouver Archives Photo, AM640-S1-: CVA 260-1742)

Harley Davidson motorcycle, British Columbia, 1918.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3404980)

Motorcycle with side car, 1st Sanitary Section, Apr 1919.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3613154)

Canadian soldier training in England with a Harley Davidson Motorcycle, ca 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3225476)

Canadian soldier trainee riding a Norton motorcycle during a despatch riders' training course, Bordon, England, 1 May 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3593052)

Four motorcycle Bren gun teams of the Royal Montreal Regiment taking part in a training exercise at Petworth Camp, England, 28 April 1942.

 

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3228795)

Despatch rider Private J.W. King (left), who is riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, accepts a pigeon message from Corporal J. Hanley, Royal Canadian Corps of Signals (RCCS), England, 10 February 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3581804)

Harley Davidson Motorcycle, ca 1941.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3613098)

Harley-Davidson Type WLC 1942 motorcycle, ca 1943.  

(Author Photos)

Harley-Davidson Type WLC motorcycle, Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, Ontario.

(Author Photos)

Norton 16 H motorcycle, Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, Ontario.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3225576)

Canadian Army motorcycles parked in front of the newly installed Navy, Army and Air Force Institute (NAAFI) canteen "The Pop Inn", Normandy, 27 July 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3613098)

Canadian Army Motorcycle in Northwest Europe, c1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3613092)

Canadian Army Motorcycle in Northwest Europe, c1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3613099)

Canadian Army Motorcycle in Northwest Europe, c1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3613089)

Canadian Army Motorcycle in Northwest Europe, c1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3613094)

Canadian Army Motorcycle in Northwest Europe, c1944.

(RCAF Photo)

Handley Page Halifax, RCAF, ca 1943.  RCAF Leading Aicraftsman riding, with an RCAF Women's Division Leading Aircraftswoman and two Corporals as passengers a Norton 'Big Four" 600cc sidevalve motorcycle hooked up to a sidecar.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3613349)

Brigade Sergeant-Major R.M. Cooper of the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade, riding a Norton WD16H motorcycle, Carpiquet, France, 12 July 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3225762)

Driver Arnold Burtch checks his watch, 3 April 1945.

(City of Vancouver Archives Photo, AM1545-S3-: CVA 586-2728)

Dispatch riders and MPs escorting a staff car in a military convoy from Alberta to British Columbia in 1944.

(City of Vancouver Archives Photo, AM1545-S3-: CVA 586-2752)

Military Police escorting a military convoy through Banff National Park, Alberta to British Columbia in 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3607582)

Canadian soldiers training with Norton motorcycles.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3226327)

Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa on motorcycles near Caen, Normandy, France, 15 July 1944. The formation signs with a maple leaf seen on these motorcycles measured 6-1/2 inches high by 9 inches wide and were painted on the left front and right rear fenders of vehicles, or the corresponding position if the vehicle did not have fenders.

In May 1940, orders appeared in the overseas forces that stated the following:

The sign selected for the 1 Cdn. Div is a gold maple leaf on a red rectangle....This sign will be stencilled on the near side fender...on all types of vehicles which have mudguards. In the case of vehicles without mudguards the divisional sign will be painted in a position corresponding as nearly as possible to the near side front mudguard.

Corps Troops will, until further instructions, use the sign as for 1 Cdn. Div., with painted horizontally above the sign a white bar 2 inches wide. A space of 1/2 inch will be left between the top of the divisional sign and the bottom of the white bar. (Letter, Assistant Adjutant & Quartermaster General, 1 Canadian Division, dated 28 May 1940, reproduced in Dingwall, Don Canadian Vehicle Markings: A Comprehensive Guide to the Colours and Markings of the Canadian Army Overseas During WWII (Canadian Tracks Publishing, Carp, ON).

https://www.canadiansoldiers.com/vehicles/markings/formationsigns.htm

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3231487).

C Pro C members of No. 2 Provost Company on Norton 16H  motorcycles, Fleury-sur-Orne, France, 1944.  

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3613153)

Canadian soldier in England training with a Norton motorcycle, ca 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3613156)

Canadian Training School No. 3, OCTU Wing, motorcycle class for officers, ca 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3392467)

Norton motorcycle,  RCAF, Rockcliffe, Ontario, 7 Dec 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3224475)

25th Canadian Infantry Brigade training, Cecil Magee carrying out repairs on a British Norton Motorcycle, 31 January 1951.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3225478)

Personnel examining the engine of a Norton motorcycle during a despatch riders' training course, 1 May 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3208311)

Private L. Wilkins of the Essex Regiment resting on his motorcycle, 14 April 1945.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3225477)

Trainees riding a sidecar motorcycle during a despatch riders' training course in the UK, 1 May 1942.

(Author Photo)

Triumph TRW motorcycle, Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, Ontario.


(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3607514)

Canadian soldier training in England with a Harley Davidson Motorcycle, ca 1942.  

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3613155)

Motorcycle class for Canadian Officers  training in England ca 1942.  

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3225486)

Despatch riders of the 4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards, Worthing, England, 7 January 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3534713)

Despatch rider of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals (RCCS) riding a Norton motorcycle during a 4th Canadian Armoured Division training exercise, Aldershot, England, 11 January 1943.  

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3524408)

Lance-Corporal J.D. Robillard of The Royal Regiment of Canada passing a sign which reads "Lend Your Dough To Finish The Show - Buy V Bonds", Putte, Netherlands, 14 October 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3613174)

Motorcycle with Lewis gun in a side car mounting.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3613163)

Motorcycle with side car, with soldiers taking part in a training exercise in England, ca 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3613164)

Motorcycle with side car, with soldiers taking part in a training exercise in England, ca 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3225761)

Lance-Corporal Bill Baggott sleeping on his motorcycle, Falaise, France, ca.13-14 August 1944.  

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3206627)

Bombardier W.J. Black of the 1st Field Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (R.C.H.A.) pushing Sergeant-Major Jimmy Walker's motorcycle out of the mud, San Pietro, Italy, 26 November 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3191584)

Trooper A.A. Coulombe, 14th Armoured Regiment (The Calgary Regiment), resting on his motorcycle in Italy, 3 Oct 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3231574)

Lance-Corporal Don Fife of No.2 Provost Company, Canadian Provost Corps (C Pro C), on a motorcycle en route to Falaise. Fresney-le-Puceau, France, 12 August 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3227170)

Canadian despatch rider taking cover from snipers, Buron, France, 7 July 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3225483)

Canadian despatch riders near Tunis, Tunisia, July 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3225484)

Despatch riders of the 48th Highlanders of Canada, England, 19 April 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3238635)

Regimental Sergeant-Major Jack H. Davies gives instructions to despatch rider Trooper Dave Dodds, Worthing, England, 6 May 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3202240)

Despatch rider Frank Shaughnessy of the 2nd Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery (RCA).

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3225470)

Personnel of No. 2 Provost Company, C Pro C, on their motorcycles, Falaise, France, 13 Aug 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3616806)

Trooper Allan Hemphill, a despatch rider with Headquarters Squadron, Governor General's Foot Guards, rides his motorcycle through a muddy field south of Udem, Germany, 26 February 1945.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3228779)

Private F. Jones of The Royal Canadian Regiment repairing his motorcycle near Militello, Italy, 18 August 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3526654)

Craftsman C.S. Keith, 11th Infantry Brigade Workshop, Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RCEME), repairing a motorcycle, Groningen, Netherlands, 28 April 1945.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3852579)

Members of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion - Private L.J. Goulet from Sudbury, Ontario and R.E. Heath from Windsor, Ontario - March 1945 during the Battalion advance through Lembeck, Germany.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3224476)

Royal 22nd Canadian Regiment on exercise "Operation Little Joe" - Private Fernand Martel, despatch rider for the mortar platoon, on a Norton WD 16H, 10 January 1950.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3224480)

Royal 22nd Canadian Regiment Lieutenant H.G.L. Hutton, mounted on his Norton WD 16H motorcycle on exercise "Ignes Bellum", 14 Feb 1951.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3225486)

Despatch riders of the 4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards, Worthing, England, 7 January 1942.

(Author Photos)

Triumph motorcycle, 532176, on display in the New Brunswick Military History Museum, 5 Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown, New Brunswick.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3613093)

Matchless G3L 1942 motorcycle.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3298166)

Sergeant Gordon Davis of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, riding a Welbike lightweight motorcycle used by airborne forces, Carter Barracks, Bulford, England, 5 January 1944.

(IWM Photo, HU 56740)

Welbike fitted with a generator for charging the batteries of a wireless set.

(Author Photo)

Welbike lightweight motorcycle used by airborne forces, on display in the New Brunswick Military History Museum, 5 Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown, New Brunswick.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4234090)

RCCS Despatch Motorcycle Team, Montreal, ca 1960s.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 5658748)

On a reconnaissance mission in a deserted region of Great Britain, dispatch rider Joseph-Raphael Lavoie, from La Sarre, Abitibi, received his orders from Lieutenant Guy Lefebvre, from Beauport, near Quebec. They both belong to the 57th Battery of Light Anti-Aircraft Artillery, which is almost entirely made up of French Canadians. Raphael Lavoie has his brother, Paul-Emile, with him, 16 June 1942.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3225469)

Despatch riders Doug Reid and Norman Given of the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade checking the route of a convoy taking part in a training exercise, England, 17 May 1944.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3519952)

Despatch rider with motorcycles at 2nd Canadian Corps Headquarters during Exercise SPARTAN, England, 12 March 1943.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4232792)

Motorcycle training atCamp Borden, Ontario, c1965