Bottrills Transport remembering war heroes – “Lest we Forget”

November 4, 2020

 

“We are very proud to have commemorated the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings  in 2019 by taking Boadicea from our Bottrills Transport site to Normandy, and now during these strange times we ask everyone Not to Forget

John & Joe Parker Directors Bottrills Transport Ltd

The 6th June 2019 saw the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings. This was the largest seaborne invasion in history. More than 150,000 troops landed, and thousands died. This marked the beginning of the liberation of Nazi- occupied France ultimately leading to the Allied victory on the Western Front and the defeat of Hitler.

Fast forward to 1974

Bottrills Transport Ltd added an incredibly special vehicle to its fleet. A 1939 Scammel Pioneer R100 WW2 Artillery Tractor, named Boadicea. All Pioneers purchased by the British Army were equipped with a 102 bhp Gardiner 6-cylinder Diesel engine, driving the rear wheels through a constant-mesh-gearbox and fitted with a power take-off driving a Scammell winch. The Pioneer R100 heavy artillery tractor was used throughout World War II to tow medium and heavy artillery pieces. It had accommodation for the gun’s crew, tools, equipment, and ammunition. Typical early war use included towing medium pieces such as the 60-pounder, 6-inch howitzer. Many Pioneer gun tractors were lost in France in June 1940 with the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). They were either destroyed by the withdrawing troops or captured by the Germans. Only 980 had been produced by the end of the war and very few original vehicles are seen today

Boadicea’s preparation for the trip included a new coat of paint, new seating, the addition of a built-in bed in the back – yes 2 of the Bottrills team slept in the back. She had a full maintenance and check-up before her epic journey could begin. Despite her age Boadicea did not falter, starting first time and ticking over loudly and systematically for the entire trip.

Spike Milligan

Boadicea has her own history having seen plenty of action in the North African Campaign during WW2 usually towing Howitzer Guns. In 1992 we received a request from Spike Milligan  asking if he and some fellow service men from the 56th Regiment Royal Artillery could be reunited with a working Scammell to relive some wartime memories. Its unknown if Boadicea was part of the original fleet but she certainly brought a smile to these veterans faces.

What a privilege it was to take Boadicea to Arromanches -les-Bains, located in the Gold Beach area, on the morning of the 6th June 2019. Arromanches was deliberately kept clear on the 6th June 1944 to make way for the Portable Mulberry Harbour.  This was being tugged over from southern England to be put in place. The Arromanches Mulberry Harbour became known as Port Winston. She saw a staggering 2.5 million men, 500,000 vehicles and 4 million tonnes of supplies arrived via Port Winston.

Being on the beach with hundreds of other WW2 vehicles as the sun was rising was a very moving experience and we certainly got the sense of the great effort and determination involved in the Allied invasion.

Boadicea started her journey to Normandy at the Portsmouth Naval Base where she was proudly on show next to another great piece of history HMS Victory. She is now safely back in store awaiting the next big adventure of her life. Keeping her alive will ensure we will never forget those that gave their lives for us.

Wearing our Poppy with Pride

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