BRITISH TROOPS with BSA AIRBORNE BICYCLES
Seventy years ago, my father, G.W.D Slack, fought in Normandy on D-Day. Like many who served, he seldom spoke of his experiences, but did recount one story to me when I was a child.
Before the Channel crossing, he was given a heavy pedal bike which he carried onto a boat, then onto a landing craft and eventually ashore on his arrival at Sword Beach.
After crossing the beach, under enemy fire, still carrying the bike, he made his way to the road and was about to ride forward in the attack when an officer told him to get rid of his bike and walk as there were mines everywhere.
He passed away in October 2012 and left me his medals.
– letter from George Slack, Daily Mail, 5th June, 2014
Preparation for D-Day actually started in august 1943, with the Allies’ preliminary plan. On 6th June 1944, 156,000 Allied troops landed in Normandy. Five days later, a total of 326,657 troops, 54,186 vehicles and 104,428 tons of supplies had been delivered to the beaches. It became the largest single military operation in history.
1943 WW2 BSA Airborne Folding Paratrooper Bicycle
Original frame and fork. Built up with later parts as a machine suitable for daily riding.
Frame No R57780
After World War 2, surplus BSA Airborne bicycles were auctioned off, bought by wholesalers and speculators and resold in army surplus shops around the country. Many had their original parts updated to make them more suitable for regular cycling activities. While an original army model is part of WW2 military history, an updated civilianised version is part of British social history of the late 1940s – 1960s.
This WW2 military bicycle is ideal for a vintage enthusiast who wants a attractive 80 year old folding bike as a daily rider. And, if you start collecting original used or repro parts, you could always turn it back to a military version.
The BSA Airborne has a neat design, but with pedals designed for boots rather than shoes, and no gears, it’s more of a display bike than a commuter. This bike has an original frame, fork and light bracket. Everything else has been updated with later components to turn it into a good riding 3-speed folding bicycle to keep in the boot of your car. The whitewall tyres, light coloured grips, saddle and cables (plus a chrome chain-set and hubs) give it a fifties retro feel. It’s ready for daily use.
D-DAY 5th JUNE 1944
CANADIAN INFANTRY WITH BSA AIRBORNE BICYCLES:
HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY
WEST NOVA SCOTIA HIGHLANDERS