Licence? What licence?!

When young men joined the armed forces at the beginning of World War 2 there were fewer than three million cars on British roads – compared with some forty million today!

By the 1930s horse-drawn vehicles had given way to the motor car. Motor cars now offered their drivers the chance to speed, resulting in an increasing backlog of court cases for speeding offences waiting to be heard. As a result in 1930 the 20mph limit was withdrawn.

But it was only in 1934 that drivers had to take a test before they could acquire a driving licence. Before that anyone could drive any vehicle, even if they had no experience of sitting behind a wheel. And as the majority of young men going off to war would have had little or no money to buy a car it meant that when our brave soldiers joined the front line driving was one of the key skills they needed to learn.

There was little or no time for driving tests to be taken. As a result many men returned home after the war, having learned to drive, but having never officially passed a test. For some it would be years before they got their official driving licence. After all, many had acquired significant skills, driving everything from motorcycles through to huge amphibian supply trucks, so why worry about a driving test?!

Military Motorcycles of the Second World War
MATCHLESS 347cc OHV G.3L.

Published by Isabella Muir

Isabella is passionate about exploring family life from the 1930s through to the 1960s. She has published five Sussex Crime mystery novels set during the 1960s, a standalone novel dealing with the child migrant policy of the 1950s and 60s, several novellas set during the Second World War, and two short story collections. All available in paperback from your local bookshops, or online as ebooks. Her novels are also available as audiobooks, and have been translated into Italian.

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