Rolls-Royce Armoured Cars

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Sir,

I was most interested in the letter from Mr. R. S. Cooke in the “Vintage Postbag” in your February issue regarding Rolls-Royce armoured cars.

I enclose a photo of one of these which was taken back in 1942 and which Mr. Cooke may recognise. I cannot remember a great deal of detail but recollect it had a plate on the scuttle which recorded it being supplied by R-R in 1924 and had been overhauled by them in 1925.

Presumably from that date onwards it had been repaired solely by the RAF. The only trouble experienced during my association with it was a broken universal probably due to a lack of lubrication but RAF Base MT at Helwan produced a spare without hesitation and I recollect had many other R-R bits as well.

It was used on a roving patrol, mainly during the hours of darkness, primarily a a defense against possible paratroop attack and also as a guard against the “Klifty Wallahs”. Fitted with a searchlight with a 24-volt aircraft battery and armed with a .303 and .5 Brownings it did very useful work. On one nocturnal occasion, crewed by LACs Young and Riggal, they apprehended Capt. Gino Bianchino of the Regia Aeronautica, a P.o.W. who had been in “the bag” but had escaped, and was in the act of “borrowing” one of our Hurricanes to help him on his way. I still have the “receipt” of him issued by the Field Security Police.

I recollect a useful fitting on the car was a compressor which was located on the front near side of the engine. This saved lots of hard work after a puncture and also did quite a business inflating tyres on aircraft at disposal points.

I agree with Mr. Cooke’s remarks on the clutch and gearbox. The box was delightful and the clutch really superfluous except to get the car rolling.

The car was known to all as the “Thunderer”, but a veteran F./Sgt. told me he didn’t think it was the “Thunderer” he knew which would be of Mr. Cooke’s days in Iraq. But she justified the title from the tremendous bellow that occurred when the cut-out level was kicked.

Otherwise, apart from a slight rattle in the turret, she was quite a Rolls-Royce in her demeanour.

I don’t know what happened to her finally although I did hear a long time later that the CO of the unit she was then with was having her stripped of her armour with a view to conversion to a sporting two-seater. Can anyone carry on from there?

Oakley. F. E. Blackwood (Sqdn./Ldr. RAF retd.)