Royal Enfield 350 WD/C 1940
By Nigel Bodiam
One of the first of the Enfield 350s ordered by the British Army for use in WWII.
Following the Second World War, this bike was sold as surplus and in the fashion of the day (or because all our metal paint colour available post-war was gloss black) was painted gloss black. I acquired the bike in 2007 and transformed it into its current ‘desert livery’ complete with the ‘used look’. This is quite accurate and looks just as it would have appeared during the North African Campaign between 1940 and 1943. This bike, which normally would have been olive drab (green) for military service, was used in its desert livery in North Africa by despatch riders (DRs) to deliver urgent information from one unit to another.
The army ordered the first 1,000 WD/Cs from Royal Enfield in November of 1939. Three months later in February 1940 the British Army received these motorbikes, of which this is one. It is one of the earliest Enfields ordered during the Second World War. This bike would have served throughout the war although it is likely it never actually left the UK, because many bikes used overseas were abandoned there once finished with. This is corroborated by eye-witness accounts of piles of bikes and jeeps being heaped up and burnt in North Africa after the war – burying them in the sand was more economical than bringing them back!
I have picked out evidence of traces of the original green paint on the
bike: orginal olive drab for European military use, which was the most
likely life of this bike. Otherwise this is the same bike that would have
been used in the desert.
To read the full story, be sure to pick up a copy of the July 2016 issue!