Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Midlist Writer blog, where he talks about writing, adventure travel, caving, and everything else he gets up to. He also reproduces all the posts from Civil War Horror, so drop on by!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Military History Photo Friday: Bicycle Soldiers

Here's a part of the Blitzkrieg you generally don't see. These World War Two German soldiers are part of a bicycle regiment. While most histories emphasize the quick motorized movements of the so-called "lightning war", the German army made extensive use of horses and bicycles.
Bicycle soldiers have been around almost as long as there have been usable bicycles. Since bikes are cheap, portable, and don't need to be fed, they provided a viable alternative to horses. They were first used in warfare in South Africa in 1895. This photo shows British bicycle troops in the Boer War in 1902. They also saw common use in World War One.

Even in the mechanized era of World War Two they were popular for moving men and small loads without draining often scarce gasoline supplies. The Germans weren't the only army to use them. Most armies had bicycle soldiers. This image shows Danish troops headed to the front during the German invasion of 1940.
Bicycles were used in later wars as well, especially by Third World armies. The North Vietnamese army used bikes to transport good along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and many modern guerrilla groups have used them as well. This image shows a platoon of Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka in 2004.
Even First World armies still occasionally use them. Here some Australian peacekeepers cycle through a village in East Timor. Needless to say they don't do this in Iraq and Afghanistan!

Photos courtesy Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Wow - great pics! I can't get used to soldiers (or policemen) on bicycles. It just looks weird to me, as if their country has no money to spend on its army (or police force).
    Great post! :-)

  2. Do you know Paratrooper folding bikes? It design was developed to allow airborne soldiers to drop out of airplanes and helicopters and into combat.

    1. Yes, those are interesting. Folding bikes were used by British troops as early as the late 19th century. They were easier to store on trains and boats, or to carry when not in use.

  3. I had no idea bikes were used in WWII.


Got something to say? Feel free! No anonymous comments allowed, though. Too many spammers and haters on the Internet.