While having a clear out former trans-Sahara pilot, CP Hamp recently came across some copies of The Ousel, his old school magazine produced by Bedford School. One issue from 1934 contained a brief report of an Old Bedfordians’ trans Saharan adventure in 1934.
Following a spell in the army in Nigeria, the duo picked up a 1928 24-hp Model A Ford, probably like the one pictured above right and which had already been driven over to Kano from Khartoum. The ex-Bedford School duo’s off-road stage went north to Agadez and then via In Abangarit (the old piste to the west, not present day Arlit) to arrive in Algiers just two weeks later.
All this was barely 11 years after the first motorised crossing of the Sahara by half-track Citroën Kegresse ‘autochenilles‘ (left and right) which drove from Ouargla to Tam then southwest to Bourem on the Niger river via Tin Zaouatine and Essouk near ancient Tadmakka in the Adrar des Ifoghas, following a trans-Sahara route dating from the medieval era. You’d think this must have put the Old Bedfordians amongst the first Brits to motor across the Sahara at around the same time our man Bagnold was chasing the dastardly Almasy around the Gilf Kebir.
The author A G Proudlock mentions that the SATT bus service (left) did the same run in just 11 days so it seems two years later the plucky A G Proudlock decided to do it again, and this time outdo the streamlined desert bus. With a couple of chums they stuffed themselves into a 26-hp Chevrolet (possibly a 4-90 like this) and drove round the clock to incredibly clock up exactly 3000 miles between Kano, Majorca and Vauxhall Bridge astride the Thames in little more than a week!
Motoring across the Sahara during the French colonial era was quite different to recent years and was subject to much stricter regulations, but did at least come with the promise of rescue if overdue.
Thanks to CL Hamp for passing on the material.