WAY WE WERE

Classic Bike (UK) - - CONTENTS -

Your mo­tor­cy­cle mem­o­ries and ma­chin­ery from way back when. Feels like yes­ter­day

I was won­der­ing if you and your read­ers would be able to help me with iden­ti­fy­ing one of my dad Cyril’s bikes. I was in­tro­duced to motorcycling by my dad and I spent a life­time lis­ten­ing to his ex­ploits on mo­tor bikes. A rich pe­riod of his life was dur­ing WWII when he was a D2DR despatch rider in the Royal Sig­nals. He used to say to me that you meet the most in­ter­est­ing peo­ple through motorcycling – and he cer­tainly did.

Af­ter his train­ing at Cat­t­er­ick, where he met a young Ge­off Duke, in 1944/45 he was Win­ston Churchill’s despatch rider and dur­ing this time he met peo­ple like Gen­eral Smuts and Field Mar­shal Mont­gomery. At the end of the war in Europe, dad was posted to In­dia, where he met Gandhi and Mother Teresa. Af­ter the war had ended, we moved to the Mid­lands and dad had a re­ward­ing ca­reer in au­to­mo­tive and aero­space al­though his abid­ing pas­sion was al­ways mo­tor­cy­cles.

Sadly, my dad passed away re­cently and I was think­ing of ren­o­vat­ing/buy­ing a mo­tor­cy­cle from his past as a fit­ting trib­ute to his life. I have a pho­to­graph of him on what I think is a Match­less G3 (see photo above). If this is cor­rect (I would ap­pre­ci­ate your ad­vice on this) then a Match­less would pos­si­bly be a good project.

How­ever, go­ing through dad’s be­long­ings I came across a 1938 BSA in­struc­tion book for an Em­pire Star and an in­surance doc­u­ment with a reg­is­tra­tion HDD 838. I was won­der­ing if there was any way I can find out if this bike is still around or even what bike this reg­is­tra­tion be­longed to. Per­haps a BSA would be the bet­ter bike to look for.

Your ad­vice on the above would be greatly ap­pre­ci­ated and hope­fully I will be able to find a fit­ting trib­ute to my dad. Steve Ry­der

Hi Steve. Great pho­tos and what a fas­ci­nat­ing life your dad had! You can check if a ve­hi­cle is cur­rently around us­ing the DVLA web­site, but un­for­tu­nately HDD 838 doesn’t come up. Ob­vi­ously, al­though there are thou­sands of old bikes around, only a minute per­cent­age of those that were made sur­vived and un­for­tu­nately many have lost their num­bers, ei­ther

be­cause the DVLA refuse to reis­sue them or they ended up as ‘field bikes’ and the plates were thrown away with the mud­guards. So un­less the doc­u­ment also lists en­gine or frame num­bers, it would be very hard to be iden­tify the bike – even if it does ex­ist. Yes, your dad is seated on a Match­less G3L, the most pop­u­lar DR bike with rid­ers, fea­tur­ing a lively over­head-valve en­gine and fit­ted with comfy tele forks. There are some girder forks vis­i­ble in the group shot, which could ei­ther be ear­lier G3 Match­lesses or one of the other makes used. Hope this helps and thanks for send­ing in the story. All the best, Rick Park­ing­ton

129 The next best thing to time travel

ABOVE: Steve’s dad (on right) aboard his Match­less G3L

IN­SET: Dur­ing despatch rider train­ing at Cat­t­er­ick (front row, sec­ond from the right) Through bikes he met the fa­mous peo­ple above

BE­LOW: Steve’s dad re­mained pas­sion­ate about mo­tor­cy­cles

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