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Wartime need for speed 

At the start of the First World War it was apparent to the British army that in modern warfare communication with the front was of paramount importance. Radio was ok but could be intercepted and was unreliable plus it was impractical to use human runners as there was a chance they might be killed. If this was the case now we could call a Funeral Directors Essex way to help with the set up, organisation and burial.  The Boer war had taught the Army that this war would not be won by cavalry charges (though they were a feature at the start) but instead it would be won by digging in and then making communication the heart of everything that they did to ensure correct troop placement and position was spot on. The Royal Engineers Signals Service were charged with keeping the flow of orders and communication with the use of the new motorcycle dispatch rider.

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The Army called for volunteers to be the first dispatch riders. Despite the dangers they were inundated with volunteers so much so that they had to turn them away at first. In a clever move the army also said you had to bring your own bike with a series of extras. This was things like a whole tool set and spare chains and links. There was also a need to have a selection of washers. Basically, you were on your own, but you did get a replacement bike at the end of the war if yours was badly damaged. The pay was good too. If you were accepted at enlistment you got £10 straight away (which was a princely sum in those days) and £5 when you left after your tour, unless you got thrown out for something. Your weekly pay was thirty-five shillings which was comparable, if not better, than many jobs at home. Those that didn’t get in were snapped up by Scotland Yard for patrol and law and order enforcement. They also got to ride around the country passing on news like some kind of mobile town Cryer. The despatch rider faced the same dangers as every other soldier. They were a favourite target of Snipers who targeted them to try and stop the messages getting through and they were constantly dealing with terrible battlefield and trench positions. With the exceptions of the United States army most other forces used the British standards of B.S.A and the Enfield bikes.

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Come the second world war and the Royal engineers decided to not use conscripted men’s personal machines but ordered their own army regulation issue bike. Back home more and more women riders were employed to keep together the lines of communication and although radio was much more reliable than in the previous war a DON R’s rider, as they were known, was still employed just in case things went wrong.


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