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Last ride togther: four war time buses in Covent Garden this weekend

Get behind the wheel of a bus that help soldiers during the First World War

28 September, 2018 — By Tom Foot

The ‘khaki’ battle bus will join other war relices in  Covent Garden

THE last four surviving First World War “battle buses” will be on display at the London Transport Museum in what is expected to be the final outing together.

The B-type buses, the world’s first reliable, mass-produced motor bus, will pull into Covent Garden Piazza tomorrow (Saturday) around 10am, leaving at 3pm.

The free display will be the first time this many B-type buses have been seen on London’s streets since the late 1920s. They were taken off routes and used to support the war effort during the conflict. They carried troops and cargo, serving as ambulances and even acting as mobile carrier pigeon lofts.

Sam Mullins, director of London Transport Museum, said: “This unique commemoration is a rare chance to see the last of these surviving B-type buses, the world’s first reliable motor bus, displayed together.

“It will be a moment to reflect and remember the significant part that London’s transport workers and battle buses played during the First World War.”

Buses include the B340 – built in 1911 – the oldest bus is B43, known as “Ole Bill”, and bus B1609.

The khaki battle bus, owned by the transport museum, will be open to the public to board. It ran from Liverpool Street to Barnes, from the Mortlake garage, until it was drafted in to support the war effort.

It was restored in 2014 and was driven along the Western Front as part of the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

A free, small, outdoor exhibition exploring the role that these buses, their drivers, conductors and passengers played in the war effort will also be on display until 7pm.

Volunteers will be on hand to tell people more about the history of the buses and answer questions.

Letters sent by transport workers to their loved ones back home, uniforms to try on, and a remembrance book will also be at the event.

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