City of London (Volunteer) Mechanical Transport Column.
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Convoys and Double Convoys are Already in Course of Formation under Designation of the Following Makes.
An excellent reception has been accorded to this scheme amongst both owners and makers of commercial motors. It is already assured that there will be no occasion to make the guaranteed minimum of service with each enrolled vehicle higher than once in four weeks, apart from the two or three "Grand Parade " days in June or July next when everybody will be expected—in the absence of leave—to muster. This one-week-in-four rule cannot, of course, be extended to the gentlemen who volunteer to act as Commanders or Deputy-Commanders of Convoys ; one or other of them will be asked to participate at least fortnightly.
Convoys According to Make.
Convoys of six vehicles, or double convoys of 12 vehicles, are being formed. The make of the vehiele automatically determines its convoy on enrolment. This plan is obviously the best : it facilitates control and supervision ; it increases efficiency ; it simplifies organization. Several convoys are already up to their complement, but it is intended not to publish the names in the Orders of the City of London National Guard Volunteer Corps, to which the Column will be attached, for a few weeks. That will allow time for other convoys to fill. We hope that none will have to be dropped for want of support.
Minimum Accommodation for 12 Men.
It is desirable to make it widely known that the Column will not rely for its strength upon three-tonners, although a proportion of that type is known to be still available in and around London by reason of exemptions from impressment. The three-tonner. of course, is able to carry 30 men without overcrowding, but a section of a platoon (12 men and their Commander) is the unit upon which the Transport Column has been based. This lets in one-tonners and 11-tonners, of which there are larger numbers to be had. It is anticipated that the list of separate convoys will have to be extended so as to include vehicles of certain other makes. We hope it will.
Little will be asked of owners in respect of seating. Cross-benches can be adapted in some cases, at but small expense ; chairs can be provided and adequately secured in others ; vans with wells offer longitudinal seating as they are. The important point is this: let nobody hold hack, or refrain from communicating with the Editor, merely because he fears that his vehicle is unsuitable. The spirit which underlies this transport scheme is the spirit of making do. Help is wanted, and "Where there's a will there's a way" probably never had a better application.
Individual Owner Convoys.
There have been several inquiries as to the acceptance of a volunteer convoy from individual owners. Such offers are welcomed. They will, subject to the approval of the Officer in Command of the Transport Column, carry with them on acceptance the right to appoint their own officers—a Commander and a Deputy-Commander of Convoy. The formation of a convoy in this category will ensure the individual owner against its being broken up and distributed according to make; any convoy of six vehicles which is so provided may consist of vehicles of two or more makes, provided they belong to the same individual, firm or company.
At a Distance from London.
The claims of owners who are centred upon localities distant from London by more than 20 miles have not been overlooked. If some of these desire to take part in the work of the Transport Column they can do so. Each offer of co-operation will be considered and treated on its merits. One case of the kind, which has arisen in relation to a. fleet which is housed and used 25 miles to the east of London, has been settled to the satisfaction of the 0.C., the owners and their patriotic men. The vehicles will. with the exception of the "Grand Parades" in June and July, be used from and back to a suitable railhead in Essex. Two or more platoons will true' from London by rail, and their transport, for outpost drill and other purposes such as musketry practice at long range, will be accomplished by this beyond-the-radius aid. "GIVE 'EM SOCKS."
Some word of explanation is undoubtedly due to those of our. supporters who would be more or less puzzled by. our latest poster. The expression "Give 'etn Socks ". has been used by us for publicity purposes this week, and, of course, the 'question will at once ,spring• to the minds of passers-by who see it as to how that long-established and familiar expression of 'our school days bears relation to any branch or aepeet of the industry in which we are all concerned in one way qr another. It were well then, without further ado, to make. it clear that for once in a while . we have allowed our -Campaign Comforts Fund to share in the. added publicity which our poster service yields to us, and this week's, pugnacious appeal is intended solely to stimulate the knitters to concentrate their energies on socks, and for a while to cease the comparatively simple task of constructing woollen body belts.
• There is something about a body belt which particularly appeals to the charitable minds of those who, by their own handiwork, can assist to provide comforts for the troops in the field something particularly comforting and capable of warding off dysentery and similar terrible troubles. In consequence, thousands of miles of the wool which has been fashioned into comforts for the troops during the . past six months have in all probability been turned into body belts. Now we learn from the Front that the men not only have more than sufficient of these useful additions to their wardrobes for all practical purposes for the next six months, but that the individuals in most eases stalwartly refuse to wear them when they have received them—with this exception, as an officer reminds us, that many a private is to be found to-day wearing-a body belt tied securely round his head and serving well the purpose of a knitted helmet.
We are asked to make. an urgent appeal, as an alternative, for the making of woollen socks—a more difficult task, but one which we feel sure that enthusiasm will rapidly and efficiently surmount.
That is the translation of our somewhat unusual poster appeal this week. Its more obvious meaning, and one which will have been assumed, not entirely to our disappointment, by a number of people who glance at the hoa,nclings, is that we are engaged in sfiniulating our already not completely friendly attitude towards the Hun.
We wonder how many erudite litterateurs are cognizant of the meaning of this classic phrase. We ourselves were sufficently puzzled when making the unavoidable reference to make a search as to its origin, and it would appear that what has hitherto always seemed to be an expression solely used by us in school-boy days has a still older but yet analogous meaning. We read in a famous dictionary "to sock (colloquial, provincial or slang); to hurl, drive or throw with violence.; -to hit or strike with force." We trust-that this unusual poster of ours will, by the time this meets their eye, have " socked " our readers, and many others.
"EYE-WITNESS " ON MOTOR TRANSPORT.
The much discussed despatches from the official "Eye-witness" present with General 'Headquarters have included much interesting information. If they have, with the utmost discretion, invariably failed to speak of anything of any considerable importance, yet there has always been good " copy" if poor news. The last one to be published as we write might well have had the title "The Petrol War." It reflects much of our own writing, when we have for the past three years at any rate, recorded our own experiences of British Manceuvres in this country. The title we then selected was "The Petrol Manceuvres."
The whole of this new article concerning motor transport by " Eye-witness " is interesting, but much of it, of course, is not news to our readers. We, how
ever, think the following should certainly be placed on record in our columns.
"In two senses can. the struggle on land be called a petrol war. The employment of this substance in the internal-combustion engine has rendered aviation possible, and has also immensely simplified the work necessary for the supply of the Army. Indeed, to such an extent has mechanical propulsion, whether, of steam or petrol-driven vehicles, especially the latter, taken the place of animal traction that the change caused may not unfairly be compared to the revolution brought about by the introduction of railways.
"That which still depends on horse or mule traction includes what is known as first-line transport, or the vehicles which carry all that is more immediately required by the troops, and follow them about the field ; the second-line transport, or train,' or, in other words, the vehicles which convey supplies from the refilling points, up as close to the firing-line as wagons can be driven, most of the ammunition columns, some of the field ambulances, and a few miscellaneous vehicles.
"To start with, the vehicles are despatched from England as part of the original equipment of the transport of fighting units, or as spares ' for the replacement of casualties. The former proceed by road to the place of concentration of the fermation to which they are allotted, and then start their life of utility in the service of that unit, and the latter go as far as the mechanical transport, or KT.,' parks, where they remain until required at the Front.
"It may be as well to point out that in transport a park must not be confused with a depot. The former contains a stock of ready-made completed motors, which can be issued at once. The latter con. tains stores of separate parts, and may include workshops.
" The maintenance of the transport consists of The replacement of damaged vehicles by entirely new ones ; the supply of spare parts to enable minor repairs to be carried out in the field ; the extensive overhaul which can only be done in workshops, such as at the bases, equipped to carry out heavy repairs, "In the replacement of entire vehicles there is little difficulty,. provided that there is a sufficient reserve of them m the parks. The provision of spare parts, on the other hand, is a most complicated task, owing to the number of different types of vehicles in use, the great number of parts of which every vehicle consists, and the consequent difficulty of keeping in store a, sufficiently large stock of spares at once to meet any demand.
"In addition to the mobile workshops to execute
general repairs of a minor nature; there are tire presses at different points close up to the Feont, both statiowy and mobile, the latter being installed on special railway trucks. By means of 'these presses the rubber on the heavy solid-tired wheels of motor . lorries can be renewed without the vehicles having ' to be Rent, down to a base.
"One of the chief obstacles in the way of work at
the advanced depot in-furnishing ' spares ' is due to the fact that standardization not merely of'parts, but even of the names of parts, is by no means complete. Another difficulty is that due to the inability of nontechnical officers to describe sufficiently exactly what they 'require. For, instance, a recent telegram demanded 'Two wheels for a motor lorry . made by — a firm believed to have worhs rn Blankshire.'
"Nothing can convey an idea of the magnitude and
complexity of the maintenance and repair work of the transport better than' a visit, to a base. Here, in the M.T. parks, will be seen rows of brand-new vehicles, either ready to take the roadt )r in process of being tuned up to do so. At the depot, in the stores, will he seen stacks of tires several feet high, with narrow alleys running between them, and rows of zerebas ' of packing cases, each zereba, being confined to the spare parts and accessories of one partisplar make of ear or lorry."