Welcome to the first issue of the 2019 series – so it’s time to wish one and all a good riding (and reading) year to come, indulging ourselves in this classic motorcycling world.
This month, I’ve been intrigued by Norton ES2s plus spent far too long looking at the picture of the Crocker coming up in Mecum’s January auction – have a look on page eight, what a great looking motorcycle. Guess what’s at the top of my new ‘lottery win list…’
A week or two back, a friend sent me a message from the barber shop’s waiting room, saying he’d picked up a copy of The Sun newspaper, in which there was a First World War centenary commemoration supplement, with a few interesting motorcycle-related bits in it, and ‘worth a look.’ So I hotfooted to the garage across the road, and secured my copy, with the ‘100 years – 100 stories’ inset. Over a spread, there were three – very different – motorcycle related tales. One was about Lawrence of Arabia (complete with obligatory sat-on-Brough Superior picture) detailing Lawrence’s actions in the Middle East, then there was the story of Mairi Chisholm and Elsie Knocker, two women (a heiress and a single mother, respectively) who served as Women’s Emergency Core dispatch riders before setting up a field hospital. They’d originally met through their shared love of motorcycling and were comparative regulars in the contemporary motorcycling press, and were dubbed the ‘Madonnas of Pervyse’.
The third man featured was Second Lieutenant Oliver Godfrey (which was actually the first bit my pal in the barbers had spotted). Though erroneously claiming Godfrey had won ‘the first Isle of Man TT race in 1911’ (it was the first Mountain Couse race, not the first TT, that had been in 1907) it did then give an interesting potted history of the Indian works rider, with a couple of facts, including that he was behind the founding of London dealer Godfreys, still trading in the 1960s. What it also said was that Godfrey (a pilot) was one of the early victims of German ace Manfred von Richthofen, the most famous pilot of the war, universally known as the Red Baron and responsible for 80 kills. A terrible and sad irony struck me that Godfrey, a man who was famed for his performances controlling a bright red machine, was killed by a man also famed for his control of a bright red machine – albeit a performance with a much more devastating outcome.
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