Getting a bargain

Tim Gosling looks at a 1919 buyer’s guide for surplus vehicles returning from World War One

Even before the Armistice document had been signed, surplus military vehicles were already being gathered at sites in Britain for disposal. The very first sale of surplus British vehicles took place on October 2, 1918 (six weeks before the end of the war) at Aldridge’s Rooms in Westminster, under the direction of the surplus government property council and disposal board.

There were just 30 vehicles in the auction of which the sales prices for the lorries were described as “very good”. The reason for this was thought to be that the buyers were already engaged in government contracting work and they would soon recoup this expenditure.

In November 1918 a census of motor vehicles currently in service revealed that there were 52,130 lorries and 28,590 cars at home and in foreign theatres. Far more than what would be required in a peacetime army.

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