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Post Info TOPIC: Lanchester a/c's in "Persia". Any evidence?


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Lanchester a/c's in "Persia". Any evidence?
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I have the CSM Lanchester and was interested in the "Persia" option.  I assume, perhaps wrongly, that we mean Dunsterforce here.  As far as I can ascertain, Dunsterforce only had a couple of RR a/c's and several hundred Ford Ts and various trucks including at least some of the Australian LCP. 500 Fords is one number mentioned.  Austins are mentioned with Dunsterforce, but I can't find any photos except Russian Austins possibly in Armenia - which might at the time have been described as "Persia".  The definition of "Persia" then was somewhat wider than the borders of the later state of Iran and certainly included territory now in Azerbaijan.

I don't believe that any British Lanchesters made it to Persia.  However, some of the Russian cars were also seen in Armenia.  I believe these were Russian-manned rather than British ACEF cars.

Some of the ACEF personnel were shipped out to join Dunsterforce after their return to the UK.  In that respect they formed a "detachment" but not a formed and equipped unit.  And I suspect that the word "detachment" has been taken by some to mean a formed equipped unit.  As far as I can tell, their Lanchesters were left behind in Russia.  By the time of that mission's end they were old and high-mileage and there can't have been any urgent need to bring a dozen old cars back - especially when they would need shipping from the Crimea to Murmansk.  The imperative would have been to evacuate the British personnel before they fell into Revolutionary hands and leave behind anything that slowed that process down.

Also, the numbers don't add up.  There were 36 Lanchesters.  None were lost on the Western Front as ar as I can tell.  22 were sold or donated to Russia, leaving 14.  Of those, 12 went with ACEF to Russia  That left 2, the fate of which seems to be unknown.  I have read that ACEF had the use of 23 Lanchesters in total, meaning they must have manned some of the Russian cars.  But with 34 of the 36 cars definitely in the Russian campaign there isn't a lot of scope for Lanchesters with Dunsterforce.  I can't see that the odd 2 cars would have been shipped out with the ACEF personnel, having been sat around (at Wormwood Scrubs?) for 2 years.  I suspect that those 2 didn't go originally because they were unfit, could not be repaired and were perhaps cannibalised. Probably subsequently scrapped.  There is an undated and out-of-context picture of 3 Lanchesters in a shed possibly at Wormwood Scrubs.  One has the outer rear wheels missing and another appears to have the engine cover removed.

So I'm not at all convinced that there is an RNAS-badged Persia option for the Lanchester.  I quite fancied the idea of a desert-y car with lots of stowage, perhaps in company with an armed Ford T.  I have no interest in the Russian expedition, don't want to model a Belgian one and don't particularly want to do a grey-tyred grey Western Front car.

Does anyone out there have any definitive knowledge or evidence of British-manned Lanchesters in "Persia", excluding any in Armenia from the Russian campaign?



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Peter Smith


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A long time ago we had a discussion here about events on the Persia-Mesopotamia Front, Ottomans v Russians, delineated roughly by the Zagros Mountains. There was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, but IIRC there were 3 points where Russia could get into Mesopotamia. One was near Van, in the north, another was the Paitak Pass, northeast of Bhagdad, and there was another, north of Paitak, the name of which I can't remember. But I'm sure I recall seeing captioned photos of Lanchesters, on one occasion of them fording a river. These might be the ones. I'll have a hunt round the Forum.



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Lanchester a/c's in
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I think I might have seen that fording photo, but they were Russian cars or ACEF cars supporting the Russians. There are many pictures of Lanchesters in the Russian campaigns. As I said, I have no interest in the British Russian expedition or Russian campaigns. In any case, it seems that ACEF did go into Armenia nor did they display overt British markings such as the RNAS logos provided by CSM.

What I'm interested in discovering is whether any Lanchesters supported direct British operations in Persia, which must mean Dunsterforce. ACEF did not take any cars there overland: they ended up somewhere in the Crimea having last fought in Galicia against the Austrians, before setting off for Murmansk and home. Had they known that some of them would end up around Baku they might have chosen to try to leave Russia in that SW direction rather than North via Murmansk. But of course they did not know.

Vehicles and personnel for Dunsterforce came through the Mediterranean and Palestine. Photos show that Dunsterforce had 2 RRs, maybe more. No photo shows more than 2. But there were RRs already in Palestine anyway.

As I said, the only possibility is that the "missing 2" cars left over from those sent to Russia went after sitting around for a couple of years. But I can't see it. Not impossible, but seems unlikely.

I suppose the alternative question is whether anyone knows what happened to the "missing 2" Lanchesters that didn't go to Russia. Because if their fate is known, my original question is inevitably answered.

I suppose I had in my mind's eye a model of a dusty RNAS-marked car in khaki or khaki green with extra fuel and water cans and other stowage. A matching Ford T would be nice. I have the ICM utility version on order and already have the excellent Microdesign etched brass set and cast brass lights for it. ACEF doesn't give me that.

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Peter Smith
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