Monday, October 17, 2016

Monday Melbourne Motorcycle Maidens 10/17/16

Two members of the Melbourne-based Militors and a German motorcycle—a 1939 Zündapp DB 200.  Circa 1941

Photo from State Library Victoria

From Wartime Associated Heritage by National Trusts of Australia:
[One] paramilitary all-women organization was the Victorian based Militors.  This group was formed in Melbourne in August 1940.  The women who volunteered for this unit were generally of a younger age, fit and healthy and able to undertake training and discipline.  Similar to the Women’s National Emergency Legion in Brisbane, the Militors were trained in first aid, military drill, rifle shooting, Morse Code communications, transport driving and other military skills.  Training was often done under the supervision of male serving or reserve military personnel.  By 1941 the Militors numbered about 300 volunteers.  But there was little or no encouragement or support from the Government for the organization and by December of that year the Militors disbanded.
The disbanding was announced in a small article buried on page six of the Friday, December 5, 1941 issue of The Argus newspaper (Melbourne):


In Germany, the Zündapp Derby series DB 200 was nicknamed "the farm motorcycle."  It had a single-cylinder, 2-stroke, air cooled, 198cc engine, with front and rear drum brakes, six volt battery ignition, with the shifter on the side of the tank.  In production from 1935 to 1940,and again from 1947 to 1951, some 96,499 were produced.

Meanwhile, eight years later...

Pat Hansford (left) riding a circa 1949 125cc BSA Bantam D1 (available in any color you want, as long as it's Mist Green), and June Parker on a silver circa 1940 250cc BSA C11, tour Victoria, Australia as volunteers selling raffle tickets to aid the building fund of the Middle Park sub-branch of the Returned Soldiers' League.

Photo from Lesley Mitchell via Weekend Notes

The photo above appears to have been taken during the same photo shoot as the one below for The Mirror newspaper:

From the Saturday, April 9, 1949 issue of The Mirror (Perth) newspaper.

Actually, the volunteer tour around Victoria was pretty much a one-woman show. June and Pat had begun the journey in March—just a month before their picture was taken by The Mirror. Shortly after that photo, Pat was injured in a car collision, and June continued the tour alone.

According to similar articles appearing one month to the day apart—one in the July 19, 1949 edition of The Camperdown Chronicle, and the other in the August 19 issue of The Horsham Times—June Holroyd Parker, daughter of the former three-time mayor of Ringwood, joined the Land Army at the age of 15. After the war she continued outdoor life and did seasonal work such as fruit picking and tree pruning for about three months each year. She would then take an extended vacation. In 1948 she used that time off to cover a large swath of land while volunteer fundraising for the Red Cross, gaining £500 for the organization. This she did by hitchhiking from town-to-town, which prompted her to buy the motorcycle.

During her raffle ticket selling tour she camped out and preformed her own repairs. In the year since she bought the "Beesa" she did not have a single mishap while traveling every day—except when she climbed on a bicycle for first time in months and fell off, breaking her collarbone. By the time she got to Camperdown (on the back of a wood truck, since the motorcycle had suffered a puncture severe enough that she needed a new tube) she had a total of 10,000 miles on her BSA, and had sold £550 worth of raffle tickets towards her personal goal of £1000 worth. When she hit Horsham she had added 1,000 miles and £250 respectively to her totals.

It was said that she had plans to do an "Australia-wide" tour starting the next December, but as of this writing I have no information as to whether or not that happened.

In the original picture above Pat is on a then-new circa 1949 125cc BSA Bantam D1, while June is on a older circa 1940 250cc BSA C11. In another photo that accompanies both of the articles in the The Camperdown Chronicle and The Horsham Times, June is astride a BSA Bantam D1, albeit with a different number plate. It is my guess that she acquired the Bantam from Pat after Pat's unfortunate accident, so that she would have a newer, more trouble free motorcycle with which to complete her goal.

BSA experts please feel free to correct me.

Oh, and the raffle prizes?  Nothing short of phenomenal:

The Age
From page 4 of the Saturday, December 17, 1949 issue of The Age newspaper (Melbourne).

NOTE: More photos here.

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