In addition to their passion for remembering the "Greatest Generation", our members are also enthusiatic about restoring and maintaining the vehicles that kept the US Army on the move throughout Europe. Below is a selection of the vehicles owned and maintained by our members.
Cushman M53 Airborne Scooter
The Cushman M53 Airborne scooter was developed by the US Ordnance Corps in close liaison with the Airborne Command and Cushman Motor Works to provide a utility motorcycle, capable of performing general observation and liaison duties in the field. Its compact design and lightweight build meant that it could be dropped from aircraft via a parachute into a combat zone; indeed two parachute loops permanently attached to the vehicle provided the anchor points for the parachute canopy.
There is no evidence that any were ever dropped into a Theater of Operation. The Cushman saw limited use in 1944 during Operation "Dragoon" and Operation "Market Garden". The single-cylinder 250cc motor is capable of delivering a top speed of 40MPH via the two-speed transmission, and the example owned by group member Ben is one of only 4,734 scooters delivered to the US Government.
Dodge WC54 Ambulance - "Marta"
"Marta" is a WC54 Ambulance built by Dodge America and delivered on 8th July 1943. From 1941 to 1945, 26,002 WC54s were built for the US Army, having purpose-built coach bodies made by the Wayne Corporation (under Wayne Works) and a 3.8-litre straight-six motor. The vehicle had a crew capacity of two (a Driver and a Medic), and could carry 4 litter patients, or 7 seated patients (the latter being accommodated on folding bench seats in the rear compartment). The WC54 was also fitted with a large matrix cab heater, interior lighting and a rear compartment extractor.
Marta is currently painted in the insignia of the 1st Medical Battalion, 1st Infantry Division during the build-up to D-Day, although the vehicle originally served in Italy during WWII. "Marta" was rebuilt in 1947 by Fiat in Florence, Italy under contract to the 67th Ordnance Group as part of the Army's Rebuild Program. Eventually, vehicle ended up serving as a radio truck with the Norwegian military before being sold to a private collector in Belgium in 2011. "Marta" retains her original US Army Registration Number (727131), which is rare for a WWII military vehicle.
Dodge WC63 1 ½-ton Truck
Designed as both a troop carrier vehicle, and as a means of towing the M1943 57mm Anti-tank Gun, this WC63 was built by Dodge America and delivered to the US Ordnance Corps on 31 March 1944. The 6x6 truck saw widespread use throughout the European Theater. The WC series of truck were originally designed as 4-wheeled vehicles, but the wheelbase was extended to include an extra axle when the US Army squad size was extended from 8 to 12 men. The new 6-wheel group of trucks could accommodate a full squad of 12 men and equipment. The WC63 is also equipped with a Braden MU2 winch, and due to simplifications of the drivetrain, the vehicle operates in permanent 6x4 wheel drive, or optional 6x6 drive.
A total of 20,132 WC63s were delivered to the US Government before production was ceased in 1945.
GMC CCKW-353 Workshop Body - "Little Bear"
"Little Bear" is a CCKW-353 truck built by General Motors Company. Featuring an ST-5 panelled body and hard-skin cab, the vehicle was originally designed for use as a workshop by the US Army Ordnance Corps in the field. Due to the versatile nature of the spacious rear body, workshop trucks such as "Little Bear" were also repurposed by the Medical Department into mobile dental clinics and workshops, which is the current livery sported by the truck owned by group member Lawrence.
Lawrence sourced the vehicle in mainland Europe and painstakingly restored the truck to her former glory. after it had spent many years (as with other larger US Army WWII trucks) with the Norwegian government serving as a radio truck.
Harley-Davidson WLA (Type II) - "Hope"
"Hope" is a 1942 Type II Harley-Davidson WLA motorcycle. She was lovingly restored from a frame and a box of parts during the Covid-19 pandemic by Ben and Chris Major and continues to be used in the group's static displays and convoys. Featuring a 45 cubic inch (750cc) motor and 3-speed transmission, the Harley-Davidson WLA was a workhorse of the US Army during World War II, and saw extensive use throughout Europe and US, with approximately 70,000 being delivered to the US Army by the end of 1945.
With its foot clutch and hand shifter, the WLA remains a popular choice amongst military vehicle and classic motorcycle collectors.
Harley-Davidson WLA (Type IV)
This Type IV Harley-Davidson WLA (as yet, unnamed) was lovingly restored by Strictly GI member Chris over a period of 18 months. Initially just a frame and motor, the motorcycle underwent a full nut-and-bolt restoration, with each fixing being of the correct finish for the 1943 year of production. Being a Type IV bike, the crank and gear cases are finished in the same Olive Drab colour as the main parts of the motorcycle, and the aluminium cylinder heads are painted in black.
Upon completion of the restoration, Chris managed to take the motorcycle to Normandy in 2022 for its return to the European Theater, some 79 years after leaving Harley-Davidson's factory in Milwaukee in 1943!
Hotchkiss M201 Jeep
The M201 Jeep, built by Hotchkiss (France) is a facsimile of the iconic Willys MB and Ford GPW Jeep. In the immediate post-war years, Willys provided all of the necessary tooling and dyes to Hotchkiss to continue the production of the famous Jeep. For several years, Hotchkiss produced Jeeps under license as "Willys of France", eventually buying the rights to the design outright and continuing the production of Hotchkiss M201s into the mid-1960s. Minor modifications and improvements were made to increase the vehicle's reliability (such as upgrading the electrical system to 24 volt), but the overall design remained unchanged from the original Bantam blueprints.
The example owned by Strictly GI member Chris was purchased in 2001, having recently returned from the filmset of "Band of Brothers", where it served as the Chaplain's Jeep in episode 6 ("Bastogne").
Westfield Columbia Bicycle
Original WWII US military bicycles are perhaps amongst the rarest of vehicles issued by the US Government during World War II. Their practicality meant that they remained in use in civilian hands for decades after the military disposed of them. This particular example features its original paintwork, saddle and Art Deco style headlamp. The bicycle is of the skip-tooth chain design and features a rear coaster brake (as was common at the time). The Delta brand headlamp is powered by two D-cell batteries, and the bicycle also features limited suspension courtesy of a sprung saddle.
An extremely popular method of transport for US troops stationed in the United Kingdom, the Columbia bicycle really is an American icon. More information on US Army Bicycles of WWII can be found on Johan Willaert's fantastic website, The Liberator.