CHANNEL SWIMMERS

Military vehicle collector Jim Dowdall recalls the time 11 DUKWs crossed the English Channel

Crossing the Channel in 1994 for the 50th Anniversary of D-Day

The 50th anniversary of D-Day in 1994 was a big affair. As a tribute, we decided that we would ‘swim’ across the English Channel in as many DUKWs as were up for it. DUKW owners Alec Bilney and Mike Stallwood, plus a couple of others whose names I can’t remember, put the whole thing together. As you can imagine, it was something of a nightmare getting permission to cross the busiest sea route in the world with 11 vehicles, all 50+ years old and only capable of 4kt. In addition, all but one had its original petrol GMC engine.

After the end of World War Two, many of Europe’s Allied armies were mostly equipped with US surplus until they were able to produce their own. From the 1960s to the 1980s, this kit began to appear on the open market. However, some specialist vehicles were retained for a little longer, which was certainly true of the six-wheel drive amphibious DUKW.

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