I am indebted to N.G.Bacon (Letters, 13th January 2017: ’Information on the ‘Tubman’) for citing Sir Arthur du Cros, former Hastings MP, 1908~1918, who indeed organised in 1909 the first transport of British troops by the ‘new’ technology of motor vehicles.
‘Tubman’ may have larger internet entries, but Sir Arthur was able to turn the British Army from being wedded to the horse: not only the cavalry but also the Transport corps.
When satisfactory roads were available, motor transport for our troops in the Great War revolutionised the speed by which sectors of the front could be resupplied, reinforced, and the wounded evacuated to the rear. Sir Arthur even used his own money to buy two motorised ambulance convoys during his time with the Ministry of Munitions, 1914~18.
Sir Arthur was also alive to the possibility that the even newer inventions of aeroplane and dirigible could become threats to the defence of the realm in the hands of an enemy: in 1909 he formed the Parliamentary Aerial Defence Committee to ensure funding for military aeronautical development, leading to the fighter aircraft of WW1, the Hurricane, Spitfire, and Radar of WW2.
The 1909 first transport of troops by motorised vehicles is commemorated annually, this year on 7th May 2017.
For the 9th time, the Seven Oaks-to-Hastings Road Run of Vintage & Military Vehicles, sponsored by the AA, and Invicta Military Vehicles Preservation Society, will terminate at the Open Space, The Stade, Hastings.
We all look forward to an exciting and colourful occasion: anyone wishing to join the Road Run with veteran/vintage vehicles (not tracked), please contact James Baxter, 01883 740276, firstname.lastname@example.org .
Hastings still remembers the contribution of Sir Arthur.
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