Motor Invasion Exercise 1909
On the 17th of March 1909, under the command of Lieut.-Col. J. F. Erskine, M.V.O., a composite Battalion from the Brigade of Guards, mobilised to war strength, in full marching order and with the new web equipment, was transported in motor vehicles, from London to Hastings and back.Interested spectators who witnessed the experiment at various points on the route, or who accompanied the column to Hastings, were Mr. Haldane, General French, Major-General Heath, Major-General Lawson, Colonel Paul, Major-General the Hon. Sir F. W. Stopford, Captain Bagnall-Wild and Captain Hayter.
Criticism of the experiment—as it was guardedly labelled by the military authorities—from a tactical point of view is not pertinent to the present account; it is, however, of interest to note that several military writers in the daily Press are not unduly impressed with the usefulness of the proceedings in the actual form in which they were carried out last week. It must be remembered, in this connection, that the force transported was only intended as a strong advance guard, and its rapid conveyance to the threatened point of invasion was supposed to have been necessitated by the temporary dis-organisation of the railway connection to the district in question.
The credit for the initiation of this particular scheme must lie with the Automobile Association, although it is well to record that the genesis of the idea can undoubtedly be traced to the original suggestion of the Lincolnshire Automobile Club, that its members' cars should be held at the disposal of the Government under certain conditions.
The troops—drawn from the Coldstream, Grenadier and Scots Guards—were accommodated in 286 private pleasure cars, ranging in type from small-sized runabouts to luxurious limousines.