War department bike pictures

Bikes that saw service during WW II


RAF Ariel

1941 ARIEL WN/G, 350cc

1941 W/NG with home made Bren gun carrier

1944 W/NG, 350cc

350cc Ariel



So I threw the M20 in a ditch and pinched the Adjutant’s Triumph !

Any time today……

Are we all on the same page?

Signal Office


M20 with Vokes air filter besides rear wheel-1944

A collection of M20’s-don’t miss the taillights or the chain and padlocks.


Two German paratroopers on captured M20,Crete-1943

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

1936 BSA M20, 500cc prototype

1939 WM20 (K-M20)

1944 infantry M20-15th Scottish Division

1st Welsh guard, Normandy-1944

Captured M20


1940 BSA M20

1941 M20’s

1944, M20

M20’s on the beach

M20, Belpasso Sicily 1943

M20 in Bhagdad, 1943

M20’s don’t need bridges…..

BSA M20 -Captured and used by Germans

BSA M20 in Dunkirk, 1940 (who says you need air in your tyres if you have an M20!)

BSA M20 and Norton Big4 in German scrapyard.

BSA WM20-British Naval Dispatch Rider

War time combo

Factory photo of BSA M20 1942

M20’s at the factory.

Despatch rider’on’ BSA M20

Germans inspecting M20 after Dunkirk, La Panne 1940.

M20 crossing

Naval despatch rider on M20

Naval despatch rider

M20 despatch rider’s bike in the desert

Early M20 in German hands

M20 rider getting checked out

M20’s getting a final check.

Despatch rider M20 and Lee Enfield .303

Rarin’ to go…….

M20’s in the middle east ,1942

Normandy, 1944

BSA M20 factory picture

Despatch rider awaiting orders

Ortona Italy

Phantom Reconnaissance Regiment

Yanks, poms and an M20-lets shake on that!

An M20 slogging away


M20 factory picture

M20 factory picture upturned tail pipe

M20 factory picture LHS with Vokes air filter on tank.

Trio on M20’s

Training on M20’s

Despatch rider on M20 ……

Despatch rider, France -1944

Flip side of the previous pic

Airborne-yellow stripe in the middle of the clutch case denotes the centre of gravity of the bike.

Australian soldiers with M20’s

Landing craft and M20

Military disposal

May 1941 Despatch rider

Carrier pigeons 1940

Maori Battalion

MP on M20-1943


Despatch riders in training.

Ain’t she lovely (Canadian)

1941_Matchless G3

Norton 16h with a census number on it’s tank

A 16h rider delivers the 8th army news to an armoured car in the desert

16H Bulldog

HD logo

1918 harley

Roy Holtz riding into Germany on a Harley Davidson

26 Responses to War department bike pictures

  1. haryanto says:

    i like very much this picture

  2. Biplob Sen Gupta says:

    simply fantastic….. recalls the great machines at work…

  3. Jim says:

    Fine collection of pictures never seen before, pity there are no Triumph 3HW’s.

  4. chris says:

    chris boswell really great collection of pics helps show differences for restoration

  5. Jim says:

    The picture of the soldiers and the text ” Radco…ect is wrong. This is not a BSA M20.
    This are soldiers returning from their retreat Dunkirk at the beginning of the war and they are standing around an 1939/40 Triumph model 3SW.

    • olethumpers says:

      You are absolutely right Jim that’s why it’s captioned “So I threw the M20 in a ditch and pinched the Adjutant’s Triumph” !. Maybe I will stick this under ‘Triumph” when I get around to uploading some Triumph pics.

      • Jim says:

        Ah, now I got it. “British humor”. Well I really hope you get around uploading some Triumph pictures soon. In the meanwhile please checkout http://www.wdtriumph.nl Here you can see a lot of Triumph 3SW and 3HW models that survived. But the availabillity of original photographs are vital and crucial for correct restoration.

  6. ROBETTE Valère says:

    I saved from scrap in a small village in south-east of France near-by TOULON a BSA L31-6 (1931) painted in RAF blue. Rear plate identification is 28YU3. I would be gratefull if I could get any informations about these motorbikes in RAF

  7. phillip hunter says:

    G day it Phil from Australia , is there any chance of getting copies of some of the photos for my shed i got a 1946 m21 with a dusting chair Thank s Phil .

    • olethumpers says:

      Hi Phil, most of the pics are scanned and put up on here. Some are off other bikers and the internet. You’re welcome to download and print ’em out, they should would look good around the garage.

  8. Brad Hunt says:

    The photo captioned “Australian soldiers with M20′s” has my dad in the centre of the photo.
    John Hunt. I have the original.

    Brad Hunt

  9. Alan Cox says:

    Awesome. Most enjoyable.

  10. John Lewis says:

    Great pics thank you . I have restored a 1940 m20 which was parked up in an old shed for 40 years after it had caught fire. I love it and have good history from the brothers who owned it after the war ended.I’m thinking of fitting a sidecar with the hope it will deter bike thieves from stealing it.If you got a suitable sidecar for sale in any condition please mail me . Cheers

  11. Ian Mutch says:

    May I use one of these images to illustrate an article about Fred Hill who was a dispatch rider in WW2 and died in prison over his defiant stance toward the helmet law?

  12. Joe says:

    The picture you have of an M20 with airfilter mounted on the side if they Aussie soldiers then the air cleaner was made Sydney Australia because I have one and as far as I know bikes where side mounted the Australian ones.where mine is still brand new never been fitted

  13. stuart bray says:

    excellent ,imformative site . thanks for taking the time to compile it . a couple of the pictures of women on bikes are not m20 .probably 250cc machines .

  14. Looking for pics of 1941 RAF AJS350 please let me know if you can help

    • olethumpers says:

      Hi Chris,

      The 1941 AJS is the spitting image of the Army 350cc single Matchless G3L.

      I will hunt around for RAF paint jobbed Matchless and post them on here. Cheers

      • Christopher Smith says:

        Yes it was Matchless to start then in August 1956 the army did a full rebuild and it grew an Ajs motor prob as ajs had springer front end and matchless tele. trying to find history to get a correct reg so I can do the 1940s events

  15. Great set of pictures! I made an entry on the AOMCC forum to link to your blog.

  16. VIJAYA SARADHY B.V. says:

    Great Warfare Motorcycles, Really this is Feast for my eyes, Great Pictures. So much thankful to you Sir.

  17. My father was a dispatch rider in WW2, some fantastic photographs, thank you

  18. gary need says:

    great pics .thanks ,really enjoyed ,

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