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Mike's 1943 BEDFORD MWD  -  269 UXL
4 x 2  15 cwt General Service Truck
Vehicle history

It was built in 1943 and delivered under Army Contract S.1466 which was for 1000 Bedford MWs with GS (General Service) bodies with Army serial numbers Z 5254362 to Z5255361.

A plate to the front nearside chassis shows:
VEHICLE No 32 RG 87.
BASE O/H 12.55 B380

The number stamped on the chassis, and partly hidden by this plate, is the same. It was ‘struck off’ at Ruddington on 22 September 1961. Unfortunately, the records held at The Royal Logistic Corps Museum at Deepcut do not show the exact serial number for my MW out of the Z5254362-Z5255361 batch. The researcher at the Museum believes from the chassis number that it was in the last quarter of the batch made so I have opted to apply Z5255154 to the doors. Its’ last military unit was 158 (Southern Command) Provost Company Royal Military Police. He also stated that prior to it being 32 RG 87, which indicates a full rebuild, it was 80 YP 56. 

I bought this MW from Chris Lyne, Walton le Dale, Preston on 24th July 2005. He had owned it some 30 years buying it from Kenny Booth of Southport on 9th May 1985. It had Z 5541970 on the doors and carried the Insignia of 21st Army Group and 215 RASC. I met Kenny Booth, later in 2005, and acquired a great deal of useful spares from him. In Keith Jenkinson’s book titled Preserved Military Vehicles (Published in1981) it is shown as being owned by Tom Hall of Durham. Tom contacted me in late 2016 and provided its’ early civilian history.

As Originally Found

As Originally Found

“This truck was being used as a garage breakdown by Findlay & Wilks, Witton Gilbert, County Durham about 10 miles distant and was in fair, original condition with all fixtures & fittings - give or take a crane in the back. I ended up buying it for £75 delivered I think. The truck had not been registered, but came with a release note and I ended up with a "modern " reg. of TPT 871M. in July 1974. This became 9103 WF, in due course, when I transferred the number from a scrap VW Beetle. Jacksons, of Doncaster, supplied new, crated front wings and also new windscreens - these transformed the truck. The rear canvas also came from Jacksons - it was a new, bagged Austin K9 tilt which I had altered. I never got around to the cab canvas, it was original and thin! I had the side screens refurbished. 

I replaced the engine in 1977 after snapping the crankshaft on the original one! The truck went to Normandy in 1975 as part of the Breakout Tour - a long way from Durham. In February 1981, I took it to Castle Howard, along with my jeep, for the Granada TV series of Brideshead Revisited - it was cold!!” In Episode 2 there are good shots of it being used by troops. Z5541970 can be seen clearly on the doors.

The registration number 9103 WF was retained by Chris Lyne, and had been re- registered as 269UXL when I bought it.

I undertook a complete strip down, literally every nut and bolt, and rebuild of the truck between 2006 and 2011. New old stock items were sourced to replace worn out parts as necessary. Most of the woodwork was beyond recovery and the new has been meticulously copied from the original pieces. Nearly all the original British Standard Whitworth bolts were cleaned up and reused and new old stock ones found, with some difficulty I might add, to complete the rebuild. After running it a while I decided that the engine needed a complete overhaul and this was undertaken by Melvyn Bean YMVT (MB Restorations) in 2013.
Wartime Production & Data

General Motors, of the USA, had acquired Vauxhall Motors in the late 1920’s and began production of Bedford trucks in Great Britain by 1931. The square nosed Bedford which first appeared in trials for the War Department in 1937 was made from proven, 2 ton, commercial truck parts to give it built in reserves for reliability and sturdiness. This pilot model was known as WD-1. In the 1938 trials the truck had the new 28HP engine developing 72bhp at 3000rpm, but the Army was already convinced by the vehicle and its capabilities.

Small batches of trucks had been ordered by the outbreak of War, in September 1939, but orders and production soon increased dramatically. In all 30 Contracts were issued during the War. Contracts for 18,000 in 1940, 15,000 in 1941, 12,000 in 1942, 10,000 in 1943, 8500 in 1944, and 2500 in 1945. Total production being 65,995. 

The early versions offered the driver little protection with only 2 aero screens for driver and passenger and no doors! A roll up canvas flap was provided instead. Not surprisingly they became known as ‘pneumonia wagons’. Don’t forget the winter of 1940 was very severe. Nearly all these early models went over to France with the British Expeditionary Force (B.E.F) and had to be abandoned when the B.E.F was evacuated from Dunkirk and other ports in 1940. Those not completely destroyed were refurbished by the Germans and used throughout the War either in their original form or remodelled with full cabs. Some were almost completely transformed as stylish small troop carriers.

Protection from the weather was clearly needed and by 1943 they were fitted with a full windscreen, and half doors with separate and removable side window canvas screens. Heat from the engine can be gained in the cab by opening a small flap on the passenger side foot well. 
There is a stowage bin at the rear of the cab for the canvas screens and fastened to that is a bracket and clips for 2 Lee Enfield rifles. During the War the pioneering built in headlights were replaced with the 3 ton yellow Bridge Weight Plate on the driver’s side and a blackout light on the passenger side. These trucks were issued to all 3 branches of the Services.
Technical Details

Bedford 6 cylinder 28hp overhead-valve engine of 3519cc. Maximum output 72bhp at 3000rpm. 4 forward gears. Solex Carburettor. Hydraulic brakes. 12v electrics with the Battery in cab. Semi elliptic leaf springs. 

Length 14’4”; width 6’6”; and height 7’6” with hoops and canvas. Ground clearance is 9”. Weight 4730lbs or 2.1 tons unladen, 6410 lbs or 2.86 tons gross

It has 2 x 10 gallon petrol tanks and averages 10-15 mpg. The driving position is low to the floor like a sports car, but quite comfortable. The recommended driving speed in the Wartime Manual is 25mph, but it seems quite happy at 30-35. An Army speed governor is still fitted to the carburettor which, I understand, will restrict the top speed to 48mph.

The tyres are the correct cross country pattern used during the War and are 900 x 16 Dunlop Trackgrip run flats on W.D. rims running on only 10lb air pressure and are incredibly heavy. Most MWs ran on normal Trackgrip tyres, but these are now, sadly, almost unobtainable.

Other MW types include:

Bedford MWR. The rear body was fully fitted for Wireless operations but outwardly is almost identical. 

Bedford MWC. A 200 gallon water tanker replaced the GS body. The tank was made by Butterfields of Shipley.

Bedford MWV –This had a tall van body.
Both the MWC and MWV are very rarely seen.

There may well be no complete surviving examples of:

Bedford MWG. Used largely by the R.A.F.and was fitted with an anti-aircraft mounting for a 20mm Oerlikon or Polsten gun. 

Bedford MWT - Anti tank ‘tractor’ which carried a 2 pdr anti tank gun or a 25mm Hotchkiss gun

Mike Humphreys 07952 070704
Yorkshire Military Vehicle Trust