Call our Sales Team on 0208 912 2120


13th June 1918, Page 8
13th June 1918
Page 8
Page 9
Page 8, 13th June 1918 — THE EAST AFRICAN CAMPAIGN.
Noticed an error?
If you've noticed an error in this article please click here to report it so we can fix it.

Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

The Invaluable Part Played by Motor Vehicles in Harassing the Enemy, in Desolate Country Full of Exceptional Difficulties.

AN ESTEEMED READER of our journal has kindly favoured us with a letter which he has received from a member of the Motor Transport Section of the Army Service Corps attached to the East African Expedition. It gives quite a useful pen picture of the conditions under which mechanical transport units have carried out their duties in the course of an extremely trying campaign, and, moreover, it shows those of us who have never visited the country some of the difficulties under which transport had to be conducted. That the motor vehicle has stood up to the work will, at this stage of its development, surprise nobody, but the manner of As doing so is interesting and informative as serving to direct, one's thoughts towards the correct line of mechanical development in order that the commercialmotor vehicle of the future shall be capable of undergoing any strain or stress that may be imposed upon at, often under conditions which may not be seriously anticipated by the designers.

The letter goes on to say :—" We have finished another phase of this campaign, which you probably hear very little about, although those who have fought in all three wars say that this one is worse than the South African or the German West African.

"Motor transport served materially to rout out the Runs and drive them from the country. After a lengthy perioa devoted to the creation of food dumps in various parts or the 4.fcarrisons which would be stationed thereabouts during the rainy season, the mechanical, transport cleared up its lines of pommuni_ cations, which were 260 miles in extent, and all vehicles., workshops, stores, personnel, and everything was got back on to the coast in two days, which was no mean feat considering the condition of the roads.

"The so-called roads have given us a great deal of work.. The advance was so rapid that the pioneers only just had time to cat down the principal trees, and our cars made their own tracks. levelling the bushes as they went ; then, as time permitted, the Road Corps followed up and made a decent clearing, but the sharp stumps which inevitably had to be left played havoc with the tyres. Except in this respect it is quite surprising how the tyres have stood up. I, for one, was expecting considerably more trouble from heat .aad its effect upon the tyres than we actually experienced.

" Pneumatic tyres have been used almost exclusively. We had vehicles fitted with solid tyres, with a rim fit of 670 mm., but these proved quite unsatisfactory in the sand, for they only succeeded in digging themselves in and digging the roads up. The officer iii command, therefore, put them out of commission. Peerless workshop lorries with their 40 in. solid tyres could get along quits well, except that in places the road crust would not bear the load of about 8 tons. We came to the conclusion .that it was not wise to have sent such heavy machines here, for continual trouble has been involved in handling and shipping, the cranes and lifting tackle not being nearly powerful enough for such Toads. "To retun to the question of roads. The surface is either sand or clay (black cotton soil). The former creates a most difficult problem in the dry weather, but naturally improves after a good rain if it has not been washed away or damaged by being scored by the water course; for you must understand that in -a quarter of an hour, when the rain starts, the whole area locally is right under water, and those roadways 'that have not been ditcfied become transformed into excellent Waterways.

"The black cotton soil is awful in wet weather. A single shower will lay up a long strip of road, then a detour has to be made or the strip must be corduroyed before it can be used again. The eorduroying, however, is a lengthy and expensive process, and when it is ,done it plays havoc with the springs. The trouble of the loose sand surface is

partly overcome by thickly laying glass, straw or . palm leaves on the surface, but, unfortunately, they do not always dig up the tree-stumps before they put this material down.

"With regard to the behaviour of the essential mechanical details of the vehicles, we have had some trouble from certain makes of back axles, but I put the whole of it down to the effect of the cork-screw shaped wheel tracks in the loose sand. All following cars are forced to take the same tracks, and if the -windings are of short pitch it often happens that the back wheels cannot respond through the differential to the steering of the front wheels, but they are forced in the opposite direction proportionately to the load, the nature of the soil, and the depth of the rut (giving a larger surface contact). The alternations of stress result in considerable shocks to the back axle gear.

"We had as many as 25 types of machines on the job here, and, unfortunately, none of them was made for the job. They were all chiefly pleasure chassis with box bodies, and as they were originally designed for the man who bought and paid for the car, or for use by his servant, the vehicle, according to the maker's anticipations, would be looked after properly. In our case, however, the drivers sent to us were all army taught—and there is much underlying that description.

"In my opinion, there is a good deal yet to be done before we arrive at the perfect automobile. Although the improvement in the internal-combustion engine by the automobile engineer has made a possibility of the submarine and aeroplane, and although practically all branches of military, mechanical and chemical science have made wonderful progress under pressure of war conditions, the automobile has remained stationary, although, of course, I recognise that it has been necessary to put up with what was apparently good enough, and set to work to get output.rather than attempt to improve on design, a thing which Would necessarily take one or two years of careful experiment.for each attempt made."

comments powered by Disqus