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Rob's WD16H and Big4 Forum

Dutch army, Johan Herman Fuhler, somewhere between 1945 and 1950

Rob's WD16H and Big4 Forum
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Information please

Forgive me as an Ariel interloper but your site impressed me and I am sure that the information I want is very much within your knowledge. I own an Ariel 350cc dispatch riders bike which I have been told is circa 1941 although the DVLA paperwork shows 'declared manufactured 1950'. I assume the latter to be the bikes release year. Its frame number is XG41037 and engine XA1038. It now bears UK civilian registration NAS 373. It was restored to a reasonable standard before I got it. I wish to display appropriate military plates/markings on the machine even if these are not 100% accurate. Is anyone able to advise me on the basic configuration I should display and where. The machine has a rear number plate and one on the font mudguard. Would any registration mark be repeated on the tank even if shown on a front mudguard plate. What other military markings would 'always' be displayed. I hope that someone can help. I can provide a photograph if this is relevant to confirmation of year of manufacture.Thank yuo all anyway. Norman

Re: Information please

Hello Norman,
Sorry i cant be of much help other than to suggest that this site tends to be mostly Norton specific.
The site has a forum on it which has become about wartime bikes in general and as such gets more traffic, so you will likely get a broader response from there.
Best of luck

Re: Information please

Thank you for the information. I will enquire there.

Re: Information please

Rik is the man for this question, but as far as I know the unit markings etc were common to all motorcycles up until about 1941/42. The Vehicle Arm of Service Markings is a number in a coloured square was on the right hand side of the tank and the Formation signs were on the left hand side. Here's a good website to choose your unit.
The placing of the "C" number on the tank does seem to depend on the make of bike. After 1941/42 they only had the "C" number on both sides of the tank.

Re: Information please

Thank you. I will look at the web site. Norman

Re: Information please


You've posed a difficult one here and I'm not very well up on Ariels specifically. Your frame number doesn't appear in the lists in Orchard & Madden's book and the Royal Ordnance contract receipt cards show that it was not delivered under contract S1049 as was originally intended.

This contract was to have been for 4000 machines delivered at 700 per month commencing July 1943. It was to have comprised frames numbered XG37281 - XG41280 and allocated 'Census' numbers (the 'C' number on the fuel tank)C5167181 - C5171180. However, the records show that the last frame delivered under the contract was XG40530 and the last 'C' number C5170430 which means that yours was intended to be C5170937.

The record card states mysteriously "Reduced by 750, see Ariel letter dated 23/8/43."

I can't trace that the number appeared under any other War Department contracts. However, at this time there were substantial deliveries to the Air Ministry (RAF) and the Admiralty (RN).

Unfortunately, there are far fewer surviving records there and some contracts are only known by their engine numbers.

I'd suspect pretty strongly that Ariels were told by the Ministry of Supply to reduce the army contract as the machines were urgently needed by one of the other services.

I think this means that you could pretty reasonably choose Navy, Army or Air Force for your bike. They were probably all painted in SCC No.2 brown at this stage.

There are plenty of period photographs of RAF W/NGs in NW Europe. The RAF seem to have liked them a lot.

If it were me, I'd probably pick up on a relative's service and build up a vehicle marking impression based on that.

Without wishing to drive away custom from this site (which is far and away the best historical WD motorcycle site), you'll probably get more response from other Ariel owners on the WD BSA forum.

Incidentally, W/NG engines seem to have carried a BH prefix, I can't see where an XA number comes from.

By 1943, civilian registrations were no longer carried (unless the bike went to the Fire Service) and front number plates and rear brackets were no longer fitted. However, the rear at least is a legal necessity and something that we just have to live with.

If you let me know what sort of unit you're thinking of, I'll happily research further.

Re: Information please

Rik, Your reply is both informative and interesting. I will examine the engine itself regarding the number, to be truthful I have gone off the DVLA paperwork and that might not be correct. The frame number certainly is correct. I will take your advice about the 'other' club. I had noted that the RAF seemed to like the Ariel. I will muse over what you and the other forum members have said and possibly then enquire with you all further. Thanks again. Norman