BRC's in Service.

Last modified December 8, 2002

This is a pretty incredible photo showing a 1938 Bantam Roadster in the hands of the Germans. Guess they couldn't wait for the Bantam jeep! I wonder where it is today?


Many thanks to those of you around the world who have dredged up pictures of BRC's in action. If there are more pictures, leads or information out there, please let me know. bill@wmspear.com .

I am particularly grateful to Vladimir V. Ivashkevich over in Perm City for all the Russian Bantam lore he has provided as well as his information on the early GAZ R-1. Special thanks to to Jacco van Snippenberg, a BRC fan in the Netherlands who has been very generous in sharing his great collection of BRC pictures with us.

So, here are a few to look at.

Tunisia 1942. This is a great picture from Jacco of what is evidently a captured British BRC in North Africa. Except for the replacement front tire, it looks just about the way it came off the assembly line in Butler!

The Duke of Gloucester. Another Brit BRC...this one in the western desert of North Africa.

Rat Patrol. One of the other major injustices done to Bantam history in this country was in putting Willys jeeps in the popular TV series Rat Patrol. Those jeeps in the hands of the Brits in the desert would certainly have been Lend Lease Bantams. Here is a picture of one I copied out of a Rifkin Report reprint. His captions are not particularly accurate but here's what he says. "Bantam Production Model of 1940 [sic] supplied on lease lend [sic] to the British Army, here seen equipped for desert patrol work." It's hard to say where this picture might have been taken. Certainly they did not leave Butler looking like this as they were shipped in boxes. One wonders if this isn't taken "over there". What kind of a machine gun is this? Maybe that will help us out.

Stalingrad, September 1942. This is one of my favorite photos. A BAntam helping to win one of the greatest battles ever fought. The principal figure is not really a general but some sort of political by the name of Abramov.

Uh OH Canada 1941?. This is a VERY important photograph for Bantam fans. You can read Jacco's take on it in Army Motors (Jan 2003). What is strange here is that this car seems to be some sort of transitional or interum model between the original prototype and the BRC60. (Note the "S" shaped side entry). It could also be one of two bodies Harold Crist ordered from the Hoover York factory and recieved in mid September but did not use because the prototype was hand built. OR, (this is a long shot theory I dreamed up), it COULD be the number one car with a new front end on it. (Remember the #1 car had front end damage with a utility truck collision). The plate, according to Jacco is a 1941 Ontario plate (why a civilian plate? I suppose the Canadians even tax their own soldiers!) Anyone in Ontario able to give us some help here?

Here we are, all ready for a world war in our spiffy new Bantams and white racing helmets. This is another one out of the Rifkin Report referencing only 1941 maneuvers in the US army somewhere.

We're in Dutch now! The Dutch were among the first to get vehicles from the US? Here is a rare picture from Jacco van Snippenberg showing one of the first 70 jeeps in action in the Dutch East Indies. The white triangle is apparently a Dutch tactical sign. Notice the similarity in the proper Bantam head gear to the next picture of American Bantams. I wonder if the white helmet and goggles were standard Bantam issue?:~)

California here I come! Jacco sent me two great contemporary photos of BRC's on maneuvers in california in 1941. I am pretty familiar with the landscape and it looks to me like Camp Roberts, Hunter-Ligget, or long shot, Fort Ord. Can anyone help me out here? The unit plate on the BRC is an upsidedown blue triangle that says "1st" on top with a "6" underneath. Note the red markings of a war game. Here's another long view.

4 up in a BRC 60. Here's a great picture of a BRC60 being tested by the Infantry Board. I found it in the U.S. Archives.

Let's go fishin'! Here's another one that I don't know anything about. Any help out there? Looks like a pretty new BRC, look at those seat covers, so I would say the summer of '41. Penndleton? What is it those guys have there a garfish or the laundry?

Cavalry to the rescue. This had to have been a warming picture for the horsey set. The cavalry was in very serious denial about mechanization right up to the bitter end. As late as 1939 we see George Patton fixing the war game maneuvers in favor of horses, but, when he figured it out he was a born again convert, and ironically died in a jeep 5 years later.

Of course it was a jeep! Another tactic of Bantam detractors is to create confusion about the name jeep, as if only a Ford or Willys was a real jeep. Those denigrating Bantams alwas call it a "peep" or a "blitzbuggy" or some other one of the many stupid names it, along with the other prototypes, was called in the early days. In fact Bantams were jeeps before anyone ever heard of a Willys. There is sworn testimony from several witnesses for instance that BRC#1 was called a jeep in it's test period at Holabird, and certainly by the time of the BRC60's a few months later the term was widespread. Here's a post card Steve Greenberg sent me depicting what is clearly a BRC60 Bantam being called a jeep. When Willys applied for the jeep as a tradename the FTC wouldn't grant it because it was a common descriptive term for the type.

A little higher Al, the carb isn't breathing right. Here's what can happen if you try rabbit hunting with a 37mm gun. Another picture I got out of the US Archives. Both Gen Marshall and Secy Stimson were very excited out "their little Bantam cars" and were anxious to not only deploy more of them but see what they could do. Stimson thought they might function as anti tank weapons and got his friend Alfred Loomis (developer of radar and princpal in other little minor projects like the atomic bomb) to go see if a 37mm gun could be effectively mounted on one. They could. There is an account of this Bantam episode in the recent Loomis book called "Tuxedo Park" (Tuxedo Park: A Wall Street Tycoon and the Secret Palace of Science That Changed the Course of World War II by Jennet Conant 2002)

 

WmSpear Home | Bantam home | BRC Home