Soldiers and bicycles

If a person thinks about the Overlord operation in the Second World War, he probably imagines soldiers, ships, tanks, guns and so on. Very rarely would he come across bikes on battlefields, and they were indeed because armies have been using the most advanced technologies close at hand in modern wars.

Britain paratroopers landed with folding bikes beyond Germany lines in the D day. They weighted about ten and a half kilograms plus guns, military uniforms and additional equipment. Imagine how strong they were. The Airborne Folding Paratrooper Bicycle was the chosen bike model to produce sixty thousand of these bikes between 1942 and 1945. They participated at least in the D day and in the Arnhem battles, and were used by British and Canadian soldiers.

Why did they used bicycles in such important days? Bikes are ideal vehicles to cover large distances without being identified. Thus, they contributed to win these battles. In some occasions, bicycles were abandoned in the middle of nowhere when soldiers considered them nuisances. Once paratroopers landed, special bike supports allowed guns to be attached and even fired in seconds.

The Canadian 9th Brigade Infantry landed directly riding bikes. Canadian soldiers had successfully used them in the Sicily invasion in 1943. Indeed, British and Canadian soldiers were not the only armies that used bikes in the Second World War. Japanese servicemen advanced long distances in Malaysia with heavy loads thank to bicycles in 1942. German soldiers used them in Poland back in 1939. However, nazi soldiers bound bikes with ropes to motor vehicles in order to tow them without making effort.

All in all, the Normandy invasion was the operation in which bicycles were used in a massive scale. A lot of these bikes were abandoned in battlefields in France and Norway, and you can find them in museums and private collections.

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