MINORS ON PARADE
The success of Gerry Cambridge's last article on Military Minors (Minors on Her Majesty's Service) prompted a great response from MMOC members. In the wake of the VE day celebrations, this second installment continues the story of those Minors who "Got Some In"!
The Morris Traveller, as well as being an accepted and established classic car, is also an interesting military vehicle in its own right. Travellers were used by the Armed Forces during the 70s in much the same way as Land Rovers today as general runabouts and also for many specialist purposes as is shown by the picture of the Bomb Disposal vehicle on active service defusing a wartime German bomb. Not many pictures of Travellers in service have come to light as soldiers are not in the habit of taking photos of their vehicles whilst they are in use. Land Rover owners seem to be more fortunate in this respect.
I am indebted to fellow members David and Lesley Price for this picture which was sent to them by the Explosive Ordnance Depot and who gave permission for it to be used. The vehicle is on active service. The men are defusing a wartime German bomb.
It may be interesting to look at some of the ways that military Travellers can be restored to their original condition. As mentioned in my previous article (Vol. XIV No. 5) Travellers were used by all three services and painted accordingly, i.e. deep bronze green (Code BSC 224) for the Army, blue/grey (BSC 633) for the RAF and navy blue or black for the Royal Navy. Later they were overpainted in matt mid olive green. Some had specialist colour schemes added, e.g. yellow for use on airfields, white for the Tropics, red wings for Bomb Disposal, etc., and some Staff cars were black. Initially the internal finish was very basic (see earlier article) but later examples were to standard deluxe finish. At Unit level the grille and wheels were often painted body colour. The Data Plate is usually still attached and this gives details such as the Contract Number and the MOD registration number, essential for tracing the vehicles history. Mechanical overhauls had often been carried out and this is indicated by the engine, clutch and gearbox having been painted duck egg blue. A small plate was affixed to the rocker cover giving details and also the appropriate REME Workshop number.
This picture shows our Traveller and Major Mike Glovers car next to a Centurian Tank at Fulwood Barracks. The Morris 1000 engine was used as the auxiliary engine for the Centurian! Mike Glover is also an MMOC member.
Most Army and RAF Travellers had a fire extinguisher fitted and most seem to have been sold to the civilian market with the holder still in place. Extinguishers and the holder can sometimes be obtained from military vehicle or government surplus dealers. During the time our vehicles were in service, pictorial markings were still being used. These were attached to the front bumper and resulting fixing holes. There may also be the remains of transfers. There were usually two insignia or tac signs. One of these indicated the arm of service and the unit and was usually attached to the offside of the vehicle. This would often be Royal Corps of Transport as this corps provides vehicles for other users. The other, showing the formation, was fitted on the nearside. Two examples of such signs are shown. In addition, a National Flag (Union Jack) was sometimes attached to identify NATO forces.
In order to find out more about your vehicle, it is often helpful to write to or visit the Regimental Museum or establishment at which it was based. I found the military personnel at Fulwood Barracks, Preston, extremely helpful and co-operative in giving me information about our own Traveller, which had been stationed there from 1968 to 1975. As, for instance, pictorial markings went out of use so long ago, it is often a matter of coming across someone who was around at the time and who remembers the details. It is also well worthwhile turning up with your car as this will often stimulate interest.
Royal Navy Travellers appear to have been procured to a standard civilian specification. The serial numbers of Navy vehicles are re-used unlike those of the Army and the RAF, and despite my exhaustive research, there is no evidence that data cards for Royal Navy Minors have been retained and so no information about a particular vehicle is available. Navy vehicles were used as patrol cars by Provost Marshalls and Naval Police at dockyards. They were also used as staff cars by senior staff of aircraft carriers and were apparently taken aboard and used as runabouts wherever the ship docked. One wonders just which far flung corners of the world they visited!
Inside of the rear of an Army Traveller
Finally, to summarise: The number of Travellers in military service was: 2048 vehicles accounted for, of which 1776 were with the Army and of these 746 were left hand drive and went to BAOR in Germany. 217 were used by the RAF of which 81 were sent to Cyprus. The Royal Navy had 55.
As mentioned in the previous article (Vol. XIV No. 5) the data cards are available from the Museum of Army Transport at Beverley or the RAF Museum, Hendon.
I am grateful to fellow members of the Owners Club for sending me information and pictures of their vehicles, many of which are featured here.
I will still be glad to receive details about Morris Minors used by any Government department, so that a more complete picture of their use can be developed, so if anyone has any further information, please let me know.
I acknowledge help and information from the following: