Thought You Were Old School? War Vet Riders
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Thread: Thought You Were Old School? War Vet Riders

  1. #1
    Registered User Array Tengu's Avatar
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    Thought You Were Old School? War Vet Riders

    Met an 84 year old war Vet, old school biker.

    He worked dispatch and a courier service on both Norton and Indian motorcycles during the war(WW2).

    His summation for troops on bikes " If every Canadian soldier were on a bike, we would've lost the war". Apparently more troops died on their bikes than in action.

    I found his insight really interesting, he greatly preferred the Indian bikes as they were more comftorable than the less reliable & comfy Nortons(english). He complained that the Nortons had you hunch over the tank, at which point I said " So I guess you wouldnt want to ride my bike for nostalgia?".

    During the blackout of Britain in WW2 he was part of a convoy of bikes that had to travel in the night and follow a small flashlight that was lit behind a truck.
    Keep in mind they are on pretty old bikes and cannot use their headlights for fear of bombers, now that would be scary. I guess when the trucks went off the road, so do all the bikes that follow which is what happened. . . . a few times.

    Not that much to share as we didnt have a lot of time to talk but i'll be talking with him again soon. He said he'd try to find some old war/bike photo's for me as well and I'd then base a piece of artwork off of it for him.

    Just thought it was cool to meet one of the original bikers as I have very little family so never get to hear these kinds of stories.

    Anyone else heard first hand war/bike related stories?
    Last edited by Tengu; 01-08-2006 at 04:54 PM.
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  3. #2
    Flieger sind Sieger! Array
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    Agreed, I'm not old school.

  4. #3
    Fuelled by rice Array racerboy88's Avatar
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    nope, although it could be b/c I don't hang out at starbucks
    02 R1- stolen Nov 24/02

    Hang Thieves

  5. #4
    Moderator Array Mighty Kentor's Avatar
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    That's a very cool storey. I'm glad you took the time to post it up. We have a wealth of great info and storey's just sitting around waiting to be told. Mostley we just need to be willing to listen.

    Thanks again!
    Reformatted to fit your screen.

  6. #5
    Registered User Array SpideRider's Avatar
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    Where did you meet this guy?
    Cry in the dojo, laugh on the battlefield
    -----
    Sparring speed is a matter of simple physics:
    The height of your flight is inversely proportionate to the mass of your ass.

  7. #6
    ninja machinist Array Darkcbr's Avatar
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    My grandfather knows the sound of the bombers like it was yesterday. My friend's grandmother gets freaked out when she hears prop planes fly over her senior's home. My grandfather was the very first dutch immigrant to vancouver after WW2.

  8. #7
    Jason #8,946,528 Array kromedome's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by racerboy88
    nope, although it could be b/c I don't hang out at starbucks
    freaking brilliant

  9. #8
    contradiction incarnate Array slam's Avatar
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    I grew up listening to stories from my dad about himself and my grandfather's motorcycling.
    Some went as far back as the war days.

    edit: the stories pretty much always included motorcycling, but weren't necessarily about motorcycling.
    my grandfather only stopped riding motorcycles at a ripe old age after breaking his pelvis in a fall from the bike, and family members' incessant pestering as a result.
    he then switched to his bicycle.
    eventually walking along side the bicycle and using it for support when riding that became too difficult.
    he must have been about 90'ish when he died.
    Last edited by slam; 01-08-2006 at 11:18 PM.
    nobody gets out alive

  10. #9
    Registered User Array canuck's Avatar
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    My uncle who recently passed away was an artillery observer in Italy and Holland during WW2. He rode a Harley all over the place during his time there. I tried asking about his experiences but did not get much. He had bikes after the war up until he was about 70 years old.

    canuck

  11. #10
    ridenrain
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    Motorcycles are magnets for old stories.
    I was at a doctors office and was listening to some old guy who started as an Italian Motorcycle courier and later ran a motorcycle repair shop in Morocco. It was great because he went right into technical details of some big end bearing longevity so you could imagine that as he talked, in his memory, he was working the parts again. Not the "I used to ride a Harley" crap but good solid details I only read the hints about. (no dis, Canuck)
    He was so devoted, he pulled out this old black & white picture of himself, in Italian uniform, on an this old italian army bike. He was some 80 but you'd have guessed he was some 30's when he talked about bikes because he came alive again.
    Some of the old farts that I ride with have a running joke that it's the bikes and their passion that keeps you young and I'd agree.

  12. #11
    Moderator Array TeeTee's Avatar
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    Out of the league of folks that wander up to me and my bike and annouce that they used to ride there's been a couple of memorable ones that I would have liked to share a coffee with and hear more. One of them was a dispatch rider in WW2 like your guy. But it was years ago and we talked for 8 or 10 minutes at a gas station up in the Interior or down in the US.

    My father had two or three motorcycles back before the war and kept one of them for a while after he joined up. One was a Matchless and the other an Aerial, but not the square 4. The king of them was a Sunbeam sandtrack racer. He called it that but I'm assuming that it was an early dirt oval racer. Apparently the devil to start and would tear your leg off if it backfired through the kickstarter. Dad will swear on a stack of bibles that it was as fast as our bikes today so it must have been quite the beast by the standards of it's time. Sadly there were no pictures of any of them. Cameras being an expensive novelty back then.

    Not many war stories about them other than once he chucked himself into a hedge when he wiped out in a turn on wet cobbles and another when he took his dad to a pub and grandad's bonnet flipped off. They got there and dad asked him where his hat was and he said it blew off miles back. When Dad asked why he didn't tell him to stop Grandad said what with all the racket and going so fast they never would have gotten stopped to turn around and find it.... Parents never change...
    A backyard mechanic without a service manual is just like a hooker without a lamp pole.... they are both in the dark.

  13. #12
    Registered User Array Tengu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by racerboy88
    nope, although it could be b/c I don't hang out at starbucks
    Yes he was the grand poobah of posers, found him at S$ sitting on a solid gold Repsol.

    Quote Originally Posted by SpideRider
    Where did you meet this guy?
    He lives in my townhouse complex, I was waiting for his neighbor and thought i'd just say hi.


    Well i'm sure he has lots of good stories, I only brushed the surface. As I shook his hand he was missing a few digits. . . .
    I didnt want to pry to much and bring up some painful war memories.

    He mentioned that he had to be trained to drive a variety of vehicles. This included some work with tanks but don't know if he meant driving them, as he eluded to having to disassemble one of them which he had pictures of.
    Last edited by Tengu; 01-09-2006 at 11:38 AM.
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  14. #13
    Lightly seasoned... Array wolfnadrid's Avatar
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    Hehe, met a guy like that at Coombs market when I took a warm up stop in Nov riding back from Port Alberni, we were 2 drenched rats waiting out the heavy torrent of rain and warming clutch hands and shifter toes over a coffee... old guy in his late 60s->70s riding an old clubman style bike, think it was an actual norton rebuild, was too cold to wander round it, w/ clipons and a solo seat that was definately not a show-n-shiner. Guy had been a racer back in the day in England, learned on war era bikes and dressed the part, full faced helm, OLD leathers with zips sealed w/ duct tape, riding boots that looked liked they'd been remade a couple times and elbow length gloves that looked like something out of an old horror flick... had a bunch of tips for staying warm and conscious riding in near freezing rain conditions, and how to recover from a hydroplane etc... chatted up a storm and heard a couple of old Brit TT/race stories, he was glad to see someone on a 'real' bike in the rain not a rolling rocking chair... said he'd be riding an RR if they were comfy enough for his old bones (guy was still a track monkey at heart, and could see that racer glint in the eyes still, but 'too old to rock-and-roll' but said he'd die before he'd let his wife take his bike away). We headed out together and he kept pace (looked like he was napping behind me how smooth he rode) and we split at the Nanaimo bypass w/ a wave.

    Would love to ride more with some guy like that, watch/learn technique as they ride like they were born on 2 wheels and fear no puddle/gravel.

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