American Lorries

By kind permission of John King, Author

In December 1914 another company was formed, No.83. under the command of Captain E C Pinder who had recently returned from France for this purpose. The personnel were of a category different from the busmen and included Special Reservists and specially enlisted men. They were fortunate in receiving Grove Park’s new vehicles — lorries. They consisted principally of new Daimlers, Wolseleys, Albions, Karriers, Halleys and a few Austins. The Company with its 123 vehicles did not stay long and embarking at Avonmouth, arrived in Rouen on 16 December, where they stayed over the Christmas period.

Canadian companies also passed through Grove Park bringing with them many American lorries including Packards, Peerless, Pierce-Arrow, Locomobile and Aurier; there were also ambulances and American cars including Studebaker, Maxwell and Overlands.

The British ASC was similarly responsible for bringing many motorcycles to Grove Park but these were mainly British Douglas types which on occasions gave rise to complaints from residents about speeding between Grove Park and Sundridge Park and elsewhere. Indeed, the police did on occasion prosecute military personnel for exceeding the 20 mph limit.

The pressure on Grove Park was very high in the early months. On several occasions the number of recruits received in a day amounted to 400 while the numbers clothed in a single week on one occasion exceeded 4000. It was nothing unusual for a batch of recruits to arrive at the Workhouse after 17 00 and to proceed overseas as a draft less than twelve hours later. Several of the newly kitted-out soldiers could not have been comfortable and one officer later recalled that trousers were often too long or short while boots pinched or almost came off and caps fell over one’s ears or perched precariously on top of one’s head. Greatcoats weighed one down and refused to fold in the regulation manner.

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