From the collection of the ‘Hartenstein’ Airborne Museum, Oosterbeek
h 90 cm x w 140 cm
This British folding motorcycle literally fell from the sky during the Battle of Arnhem. On 17 September 1944, nearly 5,200 men of the British First Airborne Division landed by parachute or glider on the woodland heath near the town of Renkum, some distance from the city of Arnhem. In supply containers hanging from parachutes, just about everything was dropped: food, radios, bicycles and this British Welbike single-seat motorcycle.
The Welbike had been specially designed for airborne troops to be as light and small as possible. With its handlebar and seat collapsed, it easily fit into a supply container. Every gram was taken into account: it only weighed thirty-five kilos. Exactly how many of these motorcycles were used in the Netherlands is not known: estimated is five to fifteen. An eyewitness recalled: ‘I saw men unpacking boxes of weapons still attached to coloured parachutes. Then somebody jolted right past me on one of those ridiculous motorcycles.’