National Geographic : 1925 Aug
FROM ENGI,AND TO INDIA BY AUTOMOBILE An 8,527-mile Trip Through Ten Countries, London to Quetta, Requires Five and a Half Months from BY MAJOR F. A. C. FORBES-LEITH E ARLY last year I decided to make an attempt to drive a motor-car from IEngland to India, a journey which necessitated passing through ten countries and across two continents. Airplanes had already flown to India on several occasions, airships for a regu lar mail service were in the course of con struction, even one of the submarines of our Royal Navy was on its way, but as vet no effort had been made to bridge the distance by mechanical wheeled transport. At least two-thirds of the journey would have to be made in Asia, through little civilized country that could not be de pended upon for car maintenance, so the method by which we should make the at tempt was a matter for serious thought. If we carried every spare part that might be required, and also a complete outfit of clothing necessary for the use of several men traveling through Lurope and Asia, at least four cars would be needed. But in the event of the complete breakdown of one or more cars, the others would have to bear the 1)urden of the extra personnel and equipment, thus cre ating many difficulties. I decided to make the effort with a sin gle car. Then arose the difficulty of finding a suitable car, for it would have to be of stout build, and yet be light enough to man-handle often; powerful enough to climb almost any gradient with a heavy load, and yet of sufficiently low horse power to be economical in petrol con suniption. Miy choice eventually fell on a 14-horsepower \Volseley, fitted with an ordinary touring body which, with the exception of extra tankage, was in every way a standard pattern. EXTRA 1E2UI'PMiNT FORWARDED IN AI)VANCE1 Personnel was the next difficulty. Fi nally I chose as diarist \lr. Allan \Vroe, of Leeds, and by arrangement with Pathe :Fr'res, Mr. Montague Redknap was al lotted to me to make a travel film. I)umps of tires, spare parts, and film were sent ahead to Belgrade, Constanti nople, Alexandretta, and Bagdad, but, in the car we carried nothing more than the ordinary motorist would take with him on a journey of 100 miles. Personal baggage was limited to 35 pounds per man, and camera, film, emer gency rations, spare parts, tools, two spare tubes and tires, and our three selves, weighed about 1,200oo pounds. This, with a car weight of 2,500 pounds, made a total load of just under two tons. \Ve (lid not realize that our modest effort would interest the public but, a few days before we started, we were supported with enthusiasm by the press. The Lord layor of Leeds gave us a civic farewell, and(, on passing through London, a large crowd assembled in Piccadilly Circus, that hub of London's gayer life.* After a farewell lunch in London we left for Folkestone, and took the ferry across the 26 miles of sea that separate (;reat Britain from the continent. CART''OON CAT T: I1; EXI'li)ITION'S M ASCOT \Ve adopted as our mascot, "Felix," the famous cat, and named the little car that was to be our home for five and a half months "Felix the Second." \hat a lucky mascot he was. and what a laughter-maker he proved to be! Many times when we found a cordon of stern faced customs officers awaiting us at a frontier, the sight of Felix, sitting grin ning on our spare wheel, made them smile and softened their hearts toward us. \hen we landed in France a tremen dous change in conditions was immedi ately obvious. Humanity was working *See also "London," in the NArroNLr GEo cRAPI'I C cAGAZINE for September, 1915.