A solider dragging his BSA airborne bicycle through the surf on June 6, 1944
The BSA airborne bicycle was used in battle, but not as much as originally
The plan appears to have been that the bicycles would be mass produced and
make the airborne soldiers mobile once they had landed. It was better and faster
The British Airborne Forces used a few on operations, but as larger vehicles
such as the jeep were available by June 1944, the bicycles were far less
Some of these bicycles are reported to have been used on the first airborne
raid into Norway, as some are reported to have been found in the wreckage of the
A few of these bicycles appear in memoirs about the battles of 1944-45 and a
few show up in photographs - but only a few. Most photographs show them being
used in training.
Ironically, when the airborne did use bicycles in great numbers on the
advance to Wismar in Germany in 1945, they had to use captured bicycles!
Photographic evidence shows that a few of these bicycles were carried by
Commandos on raids.
On D-Day, June 6, 1944, each Commando unit appears to have had a bicycle
platoon though the bicycles seem to have been discarded within a few days.
Ironically the greatest use of the BSA airborne bicycle in action was by
British and Canadian infantry on the invasion Normandy, France (D-Day 1944 June
6) in the second wave. Some had been used on the invasion of Sicily in
1943 by Canadian infantry (Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment "Hasty
Pees" re: Farley Mowat).
Photographic evidence shows that some Canadian and British troops in
armoured vehicles acquired BSA airborne bicycles and hung them on their
vehicles, apparently for use as runabouts when time and circumstances permitted,
just as owners of Recreation Vehicles (RVs) park the big beast and use smaller
vehicles to running about on errands.
Some BSA airborne bicycles MAY have been taken into combat zones by air
force personnel as bicycles are very useful items to have around