28 August 2009

Danish Bicycle Battalion


Like many countries, Denmark had bicycle regiments. On this website, I found these photos and detailed information about how in 1937 a Bicycle Regiment was formed.

Typical Danish response to a warmonger rapidly growing in strength to the south... "let's get some bicycles..." :-)

From what I understand, the 4th Battalion's Bicycle Regiment saw some action near Bredevad when the Germans invaded on April 9, 1940, and this picture is taken that day.


A support vehicle with a bike workshop and reserve bicycles. 1940.

The 4th Battalion's Bicycle Company training in 1938.

28 comments:

eulez said...

Very surprising! Many countries? Could you give us more information about that? I had no idea of bicycles-driven war-battalions, sure they were very effective in their purposes.

Anonymous said...

What an idiotic idea. No wonder Denmark gave up without a fight.

Mikael said...

Most countries, at some point, have had bicycle battalions. Even at the very beginning of the last century.

They're effectively foot soldiers who move quicker and more quiet than the motorcycle battalions.

Jacob said...

When i was serving my conscription ( yes we still have that in Denmark ) about 10 years ago I was in a infantry unit where we had a armored personnel carrier. We also had a bicycle as standard equipment on the carrier. We did not use it that often but sometimes it was quite handy. Of course it was army green.

le homme au velo said...

I have a couple of Military Bike Photo's on my Flicker Site.

Norbert Malone is the Name I use on Flicker and it was at a Military Show in Swords County Dublin. A couple of Irish Army Military Bike Photo's from the 2 World War,these are Raleighs or Humbers and two of a Swiss Military Bike . So Bike Regiments were and are quite Common. Cheaper than using Trucks. Very Popular in the Netherlands ,plenty of Photo's of the Dutch Army on Bikes on their Rijwheil Site Excuse the Spelling.

Anonymous said...

Bicycles are useful even in today's military operations.

http://www.militarybikes.com/gallery.html

Frits B said...

The Dutch had them, too. And before you tell us we were antiquated: the Germans attacked the Northern part of Holland, near Coevorden, with their cavalry, on real horses. With great success, as nobody expected them there.

Guille said...

More pictures at the bottom of this spanish forum (including parachuting with fonding bikes :-)

http://www.forosegundaguerra.com/viewtopic.php?t=2023

dyrlægen said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvjPz4X7jqw

saw these at the edinburgh tattoo when I was a boy.
class.

Anonymous said...

"the Germans attacked the Northern part of Holland, near Coevorden"

Actually, Rotterdam was bombed and the Dutch gave up the next day.

So much for the bicycle brigades...

Anonymous said...

Even the US Army experimented with bicycle forces. Bicycles gave the Japanese attackers effective mobility over the British in Singapore during the Second World War.

The last bicycle force to disband, if I remember correctly, was in Switzerland in the late-90s. They were organized as a rapid reaction force and after 100km over mountains, could quickly counter-attack with anti-tank missiles and the like.

Anonymous said...

Here's a dated clip of the Swiss military's use of bicycles.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkjpDZ1O4C0

Filigree said...

Ah, so that's what the diamond frame is for! No wonder I am having trouble transporting my rifle on my "Oma" frame.

Anonymous said...

Both Holland and Denmark like to congratulate themselves on the resistance they supposedly mounted against the Nazis. But both countries surrendered after just one day because they were filled with Nazi sympathizers. The so called "bicycle battalions" were a cynical way of "resisting" without really doing anything effective to stop the Nazis. Both the Danes and the Dutch were just looking for an easy way to surrender.

Mikael said...

Nobody is congratulating anyone. Official resistance against the vastly superior German forces was minimal. Absolutely. If a small country like say, Jamaica, was faced with an invading US Army, resistance would be minimal. Fighting a superior force is stupid.

There are sentiments in Denmark that the resistence was TOO light, yes. And I agree with that. But we did have a resistance force that fought bravely and the Resistance Museum in Copenhagen is a moving place to visit, as well as the graveyard for fallen resistance soldiers.

There were Nazi sympathizers high up in the Danish hierarchy, but to say that the country was 'filled with them' is hardly a balanced view of historical fact.

Lord Peter said...

Germans also had bicycle troops, even on the Eastern Front.

And while it is true that Denmark didn't put up too much resistance to the Germans, the same is not true of the Netherlands - Holland held out 4 days against the German invasion, causing over 10,000 German casualties while suffering 20,000 casualties of their own.

The problem that both countries had was that Germany quickly destroyed their air forces and could then bomb whatever cities they wanted with impunity. Thus the 9000 civilian casualties in the Netherlands in the 4 days they fought the Germans. Approximately 300,000 dutch citizens died in WWII.

frederik said...

not to forget the beautiful Swedish Kronan, which is (after they sold all the actual used army bikes)a remake of the Swedish army bike

-fred

p.s. clearly nothing good can come from a discussion of danish WWII policy on an internet blog about bikes, but I have to say that usually Danes are only priding themselves(justified or not) on "saving" the Danish Jews, very few people(there is all ways some) are under the illusion that Danish resistance was impressive, some think the policy was impressive - in a more cynical sense - in that it spared Denmark the worst of the German war machine and still managed keep us on "the right side" all though the Russians didn't seem to think so.(they didn't liberate as much as occupy the island of Bornholm.)

Anonymous said...

Kindly stop patting yourselves on the backs for four days of resistance because your airforce was destroyed.

Greece fought on for more than a year, as did Serbia. The Warsaw Ghetto resisted for three MONTHS without an air force. That's resistance. What you did was an accommodation.

Mikael said...

like i said, i don't disagree with you. can we move on now?

Anonymous said...

Sure. Why not "move on?" You survived.

Mikael said...

Let me guess. You're an American. Correct?

Anonymous said...

Let me guess: you find this subject too painful to discuss. I'll let you get back to preaching to the choir from Denmark, which given its history, has no right to exist.

Mikael said...

Lol. It's comments like yours from people like you that make this blog worthwhile. Thanks for the laugh.

Anonymous said...

Glad you find your own history so funny. The slave trade that Denmark ran through the Virgin Islands was especially funny, wasn't it.

Mikael said...

looks like we have a new troll! how lovely.

Anonymous said...

What troll?

Andy said...

Every country has its fair share of bad and good history. Being British, it was my country that effectively created the slave trade: though started earlier by Portugal etc, it was expanded and really brought into being by Great Britain. Am I, as a 22-year-old responsible for my country's past actions? No. To claim as such would be ridiculous. By the same argument, no-one on this blog is responsible for Denmark's actions in the slave trade or in the 2nd World War. To try and blame people living today for something their parents and grandparents did is foolish and misguided.

amoeba said...

The trouble with those who rake up old conflicts and criticise those who were actually there are being dishonest. No-one who wasn't there really knows how they would have acted.

Watching old newsreel and reading history books is one thing, but living through a war is something-else.

Modern generations cannot be held responsible for the actions of their ancestors.

We are lucky that that dreadful war is over. We are not enemies any more, we must all try to be friends.

Please let's put it behind us.