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.
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.
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 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
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?:~)
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)