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The Legend of WW1's "Petrol Pets".

Discussion in 'Military History' started by GRW, Aug 28, 2019.

  1. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Just found this great post on a FB page I follow. Can just imagine all the Colonel Blimps having apoplexy.

    "Small town, Great War. Hucknall 1914-1918

    Giving unofficial names to army lorries, the men's “petrol pets,” was to be prohibited according to a report of 28th August 1915. It seems calling a vehicle “Dick Swiveller” was deemed inappropriate by the powers that be.

    “SOLDIER HUMOUR.

    “Amusing Names Given to Army Motor Lorries.

    “One of the psychological discoveries of the war is the affection which many transport drivers have shown for the huge motor lorries that rumble day and night along the dusty roads in France. News has been received from the front that all distinctive names, mascots, and lucky horseshoes are to be removed from His Majesty's lorries, and a member of the Auxiliary Mechanical Transport Section, writing home about it, says there is consternation among transport drivers behind the Western front.

    “The writer, whose letter appears in the “Commercial Motor,” says: “An individual name helps to give a lorry a personality and endear it to its drivers, increasing their pride in its appearance, condition, and performances. The amount of harmless pleasure involved .in naming the lorries of a big column after Dickens’s characters, which was done in one instance noticed by the writer, must have been great indeed.”

    “He points out that lorries often have an individuality which invites an appropriate name. Thus an ancient and noisy vehicle was aptly named "Nobody Loves Me.”

    “Sandbag Lizzie.”

    “From the same source a list of a few of His Majesty’s lorries with names and characteristics may be compiled:—

    “Dick Swiveller.
    “Fagin.
    “The Busy B.
    “Sly Trouble Creator.
    “Hopeful Lorry.
    “Named after Best Girls.
    “London Motor Bus.
    “Micawbar.
    “The Missus.
    “Happy-go-lucky.
    “Side-slipper.

    “Other drivers have named their petrol pets “Sandbag Lizzie,” “Saucy Polly,” and “Little Grey Home in the West.” The paper, in regretting the new regulations, thinks that the undoubted affection of the men for their machines might have been submitted to the Censor. It is much easier to pick out in a long line of identical machines a lorry named “Ozoslow” or “Ozoquick” than it is to find, to quote an actual example, “the eighth big Daimler on the left.”

    “We feel certain that if there be no military reason for the abolition of which we hear other than its growing lack of uniformity, the naming of war service lorries might have been adopted officially as a means of keeping the men keen and mightily proud of their machines.

    “It means a lot in the Navy, and indeed in civilian life. We have evidence of great disappointment from the men who will now spend their days with a machine deprived, as much as grey pain will do so, of its individuality, and now only known by some totally uninteresting number.” [1]

    [1] 'Nottingham Daily Express,' 28th August 1915.
     
  2. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    So this is a newspaper report of a regulation? Do we know if this was an army wide regulation? or was an ASC Company commander imposing his will on his men?

    Commanding officers could tolerate individuality, demand by the book, or lay down their own rules about what is a suitable name for a vehicle. Some of the names might raise an eyebrow. What unit is going to have confidence in the ASC column whose vehicles advertise their faults "Nobody Loves Me",“Sly Trouble Creator" or "Igoslow"? What Company commander is happy to risk an interview without coffee with the pious and puritanical Douglas Haig in the event "Dick swiveller" or "Fanny magnet" catches the eye of the GOC?

    The History of the Army Service Corps (1902-1918) has a picture of the Mobile Repair Workshops of 8th Scottish Ambulance Convoy with two vehicles under repair Oct 1918 they are "Coatbridge" and "Scotia's Iron Queen" Nice safe regional names.

    Back in the Cold war in Germany I once spent half an hour at the taxpayers expense discussing with my fellow troop commander about whether we should name our OP Vehicles. Our Irish supported arm a Cavalry unit and the Irish Guards had Irish names starting with A, B C &D for respective companies and squadrons. We considered going biblical classic or Alexander, "Nebuchadnezzar II" Tiglath-Pileser III - or maybe comedy Florence, Dougal, Zebedee and Mr Rusty for the hanger queen. But then we couldn't be bothered... Which is what is a rough translation of the arabic/egyptian AllahKefak written on one of the CLY Shermans KO at Villers Bocage.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2019
  3. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    No idea, but certainly worth looking into.
     

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