Double-Decker Bus Used as WWI Transport Returning to France

A double-decker bus that was used for troop transport during the First World War is now returning to France at the dawn of the centenary. It has been nearly a hundred years since the transport, coded as B2737, saw its days of service. Now having been repaired to its former state by the London Transport Museum, the double-decker bus is a sight to see for history buffs as well as those who simply appreciate these relics of war.

B2737 looks similar to most other omnibuses of its time, with its red and white design and open-air level for passenger transport. During the First World War, however, it was vital to transport operations for Allied soldiers. Although hundreds of these vehicles were left at war’s end, the double-decker bus known as B2737 is one of less than half a dozen of its particular type to survive today. Although it has been restored to its original form, its original form is actually not the form in which it served. At the time it was used in the war, B2737 was a khaki color with boarded windows for the sake of protecting the troops within.

Not only was the vehicle used for basic transport behind enemy lines, but it also performed duties as an ambulance for the transport of wounded soldiers. The use of the double-decker bus as an ambulance did cause some occasional problems due to its high visibility, but it luckily did not experience mechanical difficulties very often. This meant that, so long as the vehicle was not attacked, the soldiers would get to the site of their medical care in due time.

The London Transport Museum only acquired the vehicle somewhat recently from a private collector. They were impressed by the condition of the vehicle and decided to buy it so that they could renovate the double-decker bus in honor of its service. Not all of the parts are original, as some of them had to be replaced using similar models. Some of them were even created solely for use in this particular model, The Guardian reports.

The double-decker bus has not completed restoration. The current plan is to once again renovate it so that its appearance looks more like it did during the conflict. It will then be driven to various French cities which were major sites during the war. The double-decker bus is currently planned to tour Ypres as well as many other major battlegrounds by the formal start of the centenary in August.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE