Battle Bus

Help commemorate the sacrifices made by London transport workers in the First World War

"We started our engines, our hearts in our mouths. Bang! Crash!! Nearly on us. Nine men killed and 14 wounded only 50 yards away. My engine would not start so there we had to stay and repair it, shells pouring around us." William Mahoney, ASC bus driver 1916-17

During the First World War, over 1,000 London buses, their drivers and mechanics were commandeered to transport troops and equipment to and from the battlefields. They worked day and night in appalling conditions and some were among the 1,429 transport staff who lost their lives.

The Museum is fundraising to take one of the last surviving B-type buses, B2737, to the battlefields of France and Belgium in September to pay tribute to the sacrifices made by transport workers during the war. Visit www.buzzbnk.org/ltm-battlebus to find out more.

Get involved

You can get involved and back the project for free by becoming a project Cheerleader and sharing it with friends and family. By doing so you'll be entered into a prize draw to win four specially commissioned Year of the Bus posters.

Twitter
You can use #crowdfunding and #ltmbattlebus on Twitter and follow @ltmuseum and @Buzzbnk for the latest news on the project.

Campaign rewards

Help us convert B2737 to its wartime appearance and make the commemorative journey to France and Belgium by supporting our crowdfunding campaign. You can help make a pledge from as little as £20 and, in return for your support, you will receive some exciting and unique rewards!

Cheerleader

£0

Share the project and enter a prize draw for a set of four ‘Year of the Bus’ posters.

Spectator

£20

Join us at our September Depot Open Weekend and see the transformed bus up-close.

Tourist

£45

Receive a stamped commemorative postcard from the Battle Bus tour of the Western Front.

Collector

£100

Own a piece of B-type moquette seat fabric, an exact copy of the 1914 original design, as fitted in the restored bus.

Transformer

£350

Muck in and help convert the B-type bus into its wartime appearance.

Mechanic

£450

The B-type experience – ride in the cab, look under the bonnet and learn how the bus works.

Aviator £600

Watch the acclaimed Shuttleworth Airshow aboard the top-deck of the B-type and enjoy an Edwardian summer picnic.

Battle Fronter

£1200

Join us for a day at Ypres and witness the B-type’s special appearance at the poignant Last Post Ceremony at Menin Gate.

The restoration of B2737

To mark the centenary of the First World War, London Transport Museum restored one of the last surviving London General Omnibus Company (LGOC) B-type buses into working condition. On 12 June 2014, B2737 was unveiled on Covent Garden Piazza, resplendent in its red and cream livery, and featuring advertisements from the pre-war era - including Camp coffee, Veno’s cough medicine and Wright’s coal tar soap.

Full press release

B2737 will take part in a number of celebratory events for Year of the Bus throughout the summer. Read our Battle Bus Museum blog and see images of the restoration in progress on Flickr.

The restoration was made possible by the generous support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, London Transport Museum Friends and individual donors.

The B-type: A Brief History

Introduced in 1910, the London General Omnibus Company (LGOC) B-type was London’s first successful mass-produced motorbus, able to cope in the chaotic and overcrowded city.

After the outbreak of the war in 1914, London buses, along with their drivers and mechanics, were commandeered for the war effort. The first B-type buses to reach France still bore the red and white livery of LGOC, complete with destination boards and advertisements. Later they were fitted with protective wooden boarding and painted khaki for camouflage.

They transported troops to and from the Front Line and were put to use as ambulances and even mobile pigeon lofts. Over 1,000 LGOC vehicles went on war service, most to France and Belgium, with some travelling as far afield as Egypt. Many of the B-types which were not sent overseas were allocated to home services such as London defence, hospital and convalescent home duties.

After four years of heavy use in appalling conditions, a few B-types were overhauled and returned to London’s streets. They were finally retired from service in London in 1928.

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