Monty’s Caravan

My Grandfather – Samuel Harold Bond, was one of the younger sons of Thomas and Mary Bond – local in a small meeting near Exeter called Newton Poppleford. They lived on a farm where J.N.D used to visit them. However, as there were four sons, there was no room on the family farm for him when he grew up. He was apprenticed to a Wheelwright, progressed from that, made his way up the country, eventually settling in the Manchester/Stockport area where he began his own Motor Body Building Company, ‘S.H.Bond Ltd.’ His wife was Ruth Shephard of Taunton. His only daughter, Dorothy, married William B. Hamlett of Stockport who joined the business when Mr. Bond’s health began to fail in the 1940s.

During the war, in 1944, a man in business nearby, named Mr. Larkin, of the British Trailer Company Ltd. came to Mr. Bond after hearing that General Montgomery had no mobile office of his own in which to work. He proposed that he would give the trailer free if S.H.Bond’s would construct a map/office van to go on it and it would be presented to the General as a gift for his own personal use. Mr. Bond readily agreed and the map van was entirely designed and built by his workforce who gave their time free for the purpose.

When it was completed, to quote from my father’s notes “We had a visitor, Captain Chauvas (a member of Monty’s staff) a young veteran of the campaign in Africa, who was delighted with what he saw.”

The completed vehicle was then taken to General Montgomery’s headquarters in London, presented to him, and official photographs taken of the whole group standing by it. Mr. Bond is standing next to the General, on his right, and another brother who worked for him – Mr. Cyril Beckman standing at the back.

Plymouth Brethren Monty's Caravan

Third from left – Mr. S. Harold Bond, Fifth from left – General Montgomery,
Sixth from right – Mr. Cyril Beckman.

General Montgomery expressed his appreciation of the gift in the enclosed letter to Mr. Larkin, dated 26th June 1944. There are many references to the map van in his biography and we have been told that every morning Monty would read his Bible and pray. The van was with him during the whole of the campaign in North West Europe and eventually was donated and is now in the War Museum in Duxford, England.

Plymouth Brethren Monty's Caravan

Letter from General Montgomery

Inside Monty's Caravan

Inside Monty’s Caravan

Plymouth Brethren Monty's Caravan

General Montgomery in his Map Van with King George VI during the campaign in North West Europe

Imperial War Museum – Duxford

Monty’s Caravan in the War Museum in Duxford – England

Monty’s Caravan in the War Museum in Duxford – England

Plymouth Brethren Monty's Caravan

Inside the Caravan showing General Montgomery’s office and the maps on the side walls.

Plymouth Brethren Monty's Caravan

Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke (Chief of the Imperial General Staff), Mr. Winston Churchill and General Sir Bernard Montgomery at 21 Army Group Headquarters in Normandy

Helen M Shaw – Stockport

11 thoughts on “Monty’s Caravan”

  1. dunce says:

    good help to the war effort

  2. Scout says:

    Hey that is so interesting!! show that the Brethren played a big part in the war effort!! without it dear ole monty mite not of been able 2 do much!

  3. Granny says:

    An absolutely fantastic example of how Brethren helped in the war effort, even though taking a Non Combatant stand themselves. This is literally down in British history!! Be interesting to hear from those who have seen the caravan in the IWM.

  4. B'DOS says:

    Thank you very much for this historical article and photos. It make that time more ‘real’ to a younger generation. It is also a good example of how far-reaching the benefits to others can be by the sacrificial giving of a few.

  5. DavidM says:

    A very positive contribution to the War Effort. Montgomery was a great
    Christian General. I’d like to go to Duxford to see it.

  6. froggo says:

    wow that is a very good service…
    any other war stories?

    1. Granny says:

      See the ones on the global blog about the Protection of the Jews in Le Chambon.
      And there must be lots more to come…

    2. ... says:

      There are some photos from the war… if you go to the main ‘Global Website’ at the top, then click on Media, Images, Service… (click on each photo individually & it gives the caption)

    3. Anonymous says:

      yes

  7. MOODY says:

    ineresting!

  8. Dopey says:

    Very interesting!

    Looks like ole Monty was chuffed! :-) I bet the Nazis didn’t like it though.

    Also interesting to see that Monty knew the power of prayer.

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