Our Despatches from the Front.
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More About the American " Trucks " for the French Army. Lorries with Left-hand Control. British-made Lorries Proving Best at the Front.
These messages from Our Own Special Correspondents have been submitted to and censored by the Press Bureau, which does not object to their publication but takes no responsilnldy for the correctness of the statements contained therein.—ED.
A FRENCH PORT, ist January.
Some of the French drivers sent to fetch away the American lorries did not know that there was a water-circulating system, and some were ignorant of the functions of a switch, and so on.
Skilled Mechanics in the Trenches.
It is rather surprising that men of this class should be allowed to get into the French Mechanical Transport department, in view of the fact that a practical examination has to be passed before any person, civil or military, can drive a car in France. The Army authorities appear to have taken possession of this Government licence as all the necessary proof that a man can drive, It is evident that these men have secured driving certificates after most elementary instruction, and prohably a superficial examination. In some cases, too, the licence is several years old, and the men have had no driving experience since securing it. There is no dearth of good drivers in France, but the system is certainly faulty which allows skilled mechanics to serve in the trenches and puts men, who years ago drove an old car down a straight road, to be at the wheel of a modern motor lorry. The Paris branch of the Packard Company, which in peace times maintained a big hire department, and has on its books the names of numbers of good drivers, is making arrangements for these men to be transferred from their present positions in the Army to the new Packard lorries.
Pierce-Arrow Spare Parts.
The necessary provision for maintaining these lorries has been pro-. vided by the purchase of a certain number of unassembled chassis. Thus, a motor, a gearbox, a rear axle, a steering set can be taken out and replaced by a new unit. In addition to this, the Pierce-Arrow Company has sent over a big stock of small spare parts and will supply these to the Army authorities as desired. It is understood that the other firms will be asked to make similar provision. Tires are all American make and American size. When these are worn down, it appears to be almost certain that they will be replaced by others, also of American size. These sizes are not stocked by any French tire firms, but they can be secured by special order, or from one American firm maintaining a factory in France.
c14 Four Good Makes.
In the four makes of lorries seen at 11111111111—Pierce-Arrow, Packard, White and Kelly-Springfield--the French have undoubtedly secured first-class machines which ought to give every satisfaction under European war conditions. The PierceArrow lorry, which has indications of English design from radiator guard to rear lamp, is a very fine production. Packard is more American in design, but is universally admitted to be a high-grade machine. The White has very much in common with a certain wellknown make of French lorry, it being a known trade secret that the Anaeriean firm bovglit a licence to construct according to the French firm's design. To avoid delay, uniformity has not been insisted on in such features as radiator guards, towing hooks, magneto couplings, et-c, common to all French subsidy ttiodels. No sprags are fitted, allhough these are obligatory on the French types.
The equipment given with the lorries is ,generally very good. That on the -Pierce-Arrow lorries calls for particular attention.The toolbox on the right-hand side • of the frame is so designed that the top of it can be used as a workbench, while the tools given are not only elaborate, but of very high quality. This firm has provided complete instruction books in French, while Packard gives detailed driving and maintenance instructions in French on the dashboard. Left-hand steering is fitted on Whites and Kellys ; this is no novelty, for all the Paris bases now at the Front have the driver's seat on the left. The body covering conforms roughly to the French Army type, but as the experience of French and English drivers has shown, there is not sufficient protection for the man at the wheel. It is interesting to note that while the English representatives in the States have placed orders for 4 and 5-ton lorries, among them being 150 Packards, the French refuse to take anything bigger than a 3-ton vehicle. This difference of opinion is peculiar when it is considered that the vehicles have to work under practically identical conditions.
Among French authorities complete satisfaction is expressed at the American lorries brought into France through official channels. The four firms dealt with are among
the best in the United States, and the lorries supplied are the latest types backed with every guarantee. Certain intermediaries are endeavouring to sell stocks which they claim to have secured at New York, but up to the present no business has been done by these persons with the French Army.
From a Mech. Sergt...Major.
MIN Div. Sup. Col., B.E.F.
Having a few moments to spare from my share in keeping some 60 motor vehicles on the road and fit for their duties, which are by no means easy, I feel that I could not be better employed than in thanking you and the subscribers to the
COMMERCIAL MOTOR. Campaign Comforts Fund" for the splendid and much-appreciated gifts which we are receiving from time to time. These gifts are doubly acceptable because of their always fulfilling actual wants and because, in one case at any rate, they were entirely unexpected.
Personally I feel that I owe you and everyone connected with the Fund an apology because like most Regulars of this branch of the the A.S.C. I was under the impression that we were "nobody's children" being essentially a working corps having but few officers with rich relations to "send things out to the men."
However, like the German diplomats, we have made a mistake, a pardonable one I hope, for who could foresee that we would be adopted by so many friends of the great industry in which we are all engaged?
A Surprise to its Sponsors.
I have belonged to the M.T. for 12 years, from its birth so to speak —watching (and helping in a small way) it from its childhood's days. it is therefore particularly gratifying for me to be here to see it doing the work it was designed for and in such a manner that it is surprising even to the originators.
British Proves Best.
For the benefit of any buyers I would like to emphasize the fact that the British-made machines are easily the best out here. It is perhaps worth mentioning that we still have with this column four lorries —three of one make—which landed with us in France on 16th August last, and they have completed every journey to date without having been even once under workshop orders. I think this beats any reliability trials which have ever been held. Buyers of motor vehicles after the war might do worse than invite the opinions of a few of our workshop officers as to the best machines for all types of work.
The "Early Door" at Mons.
Our column has had its share ef adventures since the commencement of hostilities, and the "hungry children" whom it is our duty to supply have been in the thick of it since the "early door" opened at Mons
We have men from all parts of the Empire with us, all classes are represented from the bus driver to the " pater's car smasher," once known as" the nut." They are all really good chaps and quite proud of the M.T.'s record to date.
Honoursfor the M.T.
You will have noted that the M.T.'s have had some of their members mentioned in despatches, whilst two have been awarded the Military Cross, so honours are falling thick upon us. We only want to see a little more pukka promotion and a few commissions from the ranks and the "left of the line" will start to fancy themselves.
One to Us: As I started this communication with thanks, it is only fitting that I should in closing mention that the selection_ of and the first-rate quality of all the articles sent us testify to the kind and thoughtful discretion exercised by organizers amongst whom are many wellknown to the A.S.0