CANADIAN MILITARY PATTERN TRUCKS
BY DR CLIVE FRASER
During World War II under-utilised Canadian automotive factories produced 815,729 military vehicles for the Allied war effort.
Half a million of these vehicles were British-designed light trucks fondly known as Blitzes.
As a child in the 1960s I can remember seeing hundreds of them parked in old Commonwealth Government stores.
As they were designed to travel cross-country many of them went on to serve in the outback, mining and forestry applications.
It wasn’t so long ago that Tangalooma tourists would be taken to the Moreton Island sand blow in an ex-army Blitz.
After all Moreton Island had been equipped with artillery to protect the shipping channel to Brisbane from Japanese invasion.
A colleague with a collection of military vehicles owns a C60L from 1943.
My colleague was also born in 1943 which makes them both 75 years of age and neither have any retirement plans and both seem built to last.
The C60L was made in the Chevrolet factory in Oshawa, Ontario.
And, if one Blitz is never enough my colleague also has a 1942 F60L which was made in the Ford factory at Windsor, Ontario.
During the war there was a remarkable degree of co-operation between the competing automotive plants with most body parts being interchangeable.
The main point of difference was that the Chevy Blitz had a 216 cubic inch OHV six cylinder engine producing 85 horsepower (63 kW).
The Ford Blitz had 238 cubic inch side valve V8 producing 95 horsepower (71 kW).
Both had four speed non-syncromesh transmissions.
Neither needed a heater because the engine was sitting in the middle of the cabin.
Driving a Blitz does require a tutorial before venturing off.
The main issue is that on first inspection there are only two pedals, an accelerator and a clutch.
The brake pedal is out of view and high up under the dashboard above the accelerator pedal.
The transfer case has high and low ranges as well as a shaft for a power take-off driving a winch.
After the war many Blitzes were fitted with jib cranes and became tow trucks.
My dear Uncle Bob served as a mechanic in the British Army in 1943 working on Blitzes in the North African campaign.
He became adept at improvisation in the desert as patching up the Blitzes kept supplies moving up to the front line.
One day he was bashing a shaft with a hammer when he was distracted by another worker.
He turned slightly, but kept swinging the hammer only to end up striking a blow to his forearm which smashed his watch.
With no end in sight to the war and Bob not carrying a spare watch he was resigned to not knowing the time of day for the rest of his deployment.
The next morning he woke up to see that someone had drawn a cartoon of him smashing his watch and had pinned it above his workbench.
The caption read: “Bob, killing time!”
Whilst long departed I think that my Uncle Bob would be smiling if he knew how many Blitzes were still on the road.