FIRST WORLD WAR
Only a handful of motorcycles went across when the Canadians embarked for Europe, but by war’s end, thousands had been put to good use.
Linemen used them to check telegraph wires, officers as transport, infantry for scouting. Their riders delivered medical supplies and evacuated the wounded.
A few had sidecars fitted with guns. But their biggest role was ferrying messages to and from headquarters, to distant units in England, and to battalions and batteries at the front. Dispatch riders (DRs) even delivered carrier pigeons in wicker baskets strapped to their backs.
Wherever Canadian troops went, so went motorcycles—even to Vladivostok, on Russia’s Pacific coast. On the Western Front, DRs became adept at adjusting their speed according to intervals between shell bu...