Dutch Military Norton's

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According to a pre war Norton brochure advertising the "military 16H Norton", believed to be from 1938 or 1939, Norton delivered motorcycles to amongst others the "Dutch East Indies, Army authorities".  The reference in this brochure suggests that they were 16H models, but it is more likely they refered to the sales of  50 Model 19's (600cc overhead valve) (part of them with sidecars and finished "olive green") which were delivered between December 1932 and October 1934 through the civilian importer "Soerabayaschen Motorhandel" on Java.  I have not seen any pictures of these bikes, but they are mentioned in the Norton assembly books and in the November 23rd 1934 issue of the Dutch "Het Motorrijwiel en de Populaire Auto" magazine which describes a continuous  9 days and 15 hours long use of over a total of 10.470 km to various destinations on Java on an "identical" outfit. The trips were made by 12 men, 4 civilians and 8 Artillery officers.
The Dutch Army in the Netherlands did not have prewar Nortons.  They did purchase Harley Davidson, BSA and BMW motorcycles.

Recently (2019) unearthed information shows that the A Dutch firm "Ingenieursbureau Figee & Groeneveld from Haarlem" sent information about the Norton Big 4 to the Dutch Ministry of Defence on the 10th of August 1938. The information was made up of an English language evaluation and some pictures. These pictures have not been found but could likely have been the same showing the .... machine.  The option was given to have the sidecar mounted at the right hand side.
The Dutch military were however not very interested as they wanted twin cylinder machines which were not made by Norton and finally chose BMW outfits,

Wartime use of Nortons by Dutch Military forces is described on the Prinses Irene Brigade page.

Norton's used by the Dutch armed forces after world war two need some more research. There is little or  no literature  available to me about the subject.
Based on what I have been able to collect, I can make the following preliminary

Koninklijke Marechaussee
(Royal Corps of Military Police):
Nortons were used with relative certainty until 1955 by the "Koninklijke Marechaussee".
Based on pictures as shown on the  "Pictures Dutch military Norton"  page, and recollections from an  ex-Marechaussee (Toon Kuijper,  Utrecht 1933-Vaals 1984, service number 330615193, seated on 44057), it is quite sure that the Nortons were used upto 1954 for the basic motorcycle training.
Nearly all pictures of Dutch military Nortons show motorcycles without toolboxes, lighting and pannier carriers/bags.
During an interview with an ex-Marechaussee driving instructor (Arie Kreling, 1921) the following surfaced;
In fall of 1945 Mr Kreling went to the Deelen Airfield with a number of trucks, accompanied by a number of  "Brigade mannen" (Ex Prinses Irene Brigade MP's). This airfield was used by the Canadian Military to store surplus army vehicles (estimated upto 35.000 of them) and known as the  "Canadian Army Vehicle-Demob park". 
About 80 to 100 Nortons were loaded up and taken back to Apeldoorn (Koning Willem III Barracks) to be used for the initial driving instruction of motorcyclists of the Koninklijke Marechaussee.
These motorcycles were already stripped from lighting, toolboxes and pannier racks/bags before being loaded up.
As far as Mr Kreling can remember, the vehicles were also already provided with the registration numbers. It is supposed that the vehicle numbers were provided by "Domeinen" (the Dutch service responsible a.o. for selling off of all materials/means/vehicles/weaponry/state owned buildings etc. of all Dutch services Military and Civil). 
The motorcycles all show (nearly) identical type registration numbers on the petrol tank, 5 digit numbers.  These numbers suggest that there may have been at least 400 16H's.  I very much doubt that as then I'd expect that they should then have been more conspicuous in the present day "historic" Dutch motorcycle scene.
Scrutiny of the pictures show that there is a variety of rear mudguard stays. Some bikes show early type civilian stays without rear carrier but with hand grip type rear upper stay, some bikes show later type (pannier) rear carrier and some show the later type rear carrier being cut-off near the mudguard mounting. 

The pictures from Dutch East Indies prove that Nortons were also used there. How many that were and if they ever returned to the Netherlands is unknown. As visible, some did have electrics and panniers, most did not.
With a post war army of over 100.000 men, 400 Nortons could be a viable number. The Prinses Irene Brigade had a "strength" of about 1500 men and 80 motorcycles minimum.  Assuming the Army was 50.000 men, it would calculate to 2500 motorcycles. In that case 400 Norton's are possible. This is however highly speculative. More info is required to give accurate numbers. 
Attempts to access the archives of "Domeinen" stranded on the barricades thrown up by the service to allow civilians acces to the supposedly public archives. (Charging  80 Euro/hour for a, most likely not interested, civil servant to search in the "public" archive without any certainty of getting results, cannot be explained otherwise! The argument about possible theft is rather poor. There are ways to reduce that risk, and there are also stealing civil servants!).

Luchtmacht (Air Force):
One picture taken between 1945 and 1953 at the "Central warehouse" of the LSK ("Lucht Strijd Krachten") at Weesp shows 3 Norton's with at least 2 Norton sidecars.  LSK  number plates are visible (LSK706 and LSK782).  The LSK was re-named to "Koninklijke Luchtmacht" in February 1953.  These motorcycles are most likely 16H's (no valance on left hand front mudguard). 16H sidecar combinations were used by the British RAF (Royal Air Force) during the war.  Large amounts of British surplus material was purchased between 1945 and 1948 to rebuild the Dutch Airforce.  

Ex Military Nortons:
Two pictures below show ex Dutch military Nortons. One of a Mr Knoppert from Putten, proudly seated on his mount. The motorcycle is provided with the army number on the tank and a civil "Provinciaal Kenteken" (Provincial registration) of the province "Gelderland". With this, the release from the military of this bike can be dated as being made before 1952, the year in which the nation wide registration system started. Although the Provincial Registrations were used upto 1956, they were not released to "new" vehicles after 1952.
The other picture shows a Norton WD16H as presented in the Museum of the "Garde regiment Prinses Irene" in Oirschot (near Eindhoven). It is my theory that it really is an ex-Marechaussee instruction motorcycle, added to the fledgeling collection years ago. As mentioned before, there were a number of ex Brigade men with the post war Marechaussee who may have "arranged" the donation of a demobbed Norton. The leather saddle bags on this motorcycle are an incorrect addition. A wartime dressed Despatch rider near a postwar instruction machine confuses the scene.  

More photographs and information of Dutch military motorcycles is very welcome, so please??         Rob


 Centraal Magazijn Weesp 16H (LSK)

PIB museum motorcycle   

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