Battle Bus Returns To Covent Garden For WW1 Centenary

The buses are the last remaining of the 900 that were requisitioned, repainted from their iconic red colour to green for camouflage.

The last four surviving B-type buses from the First World War made a brief return to Covent Garden on 29 September, 100 years after three of them were requisitioned into the service of King and Country.

During the Great War, 900 buses from across the nation were taken out of public service and sent to France to help the British Army.

On the outside, most were given a uniform green coat of paint – to camouflage the vehicle from the enemy – but the inside varied widely.

Some were used to transport troops and supplies, some refitted as ambulances and others were even furbished as lofts for messenger pigeons.

After the war, many B-type buses were returned to civilian service and most were phased out of use during the 1920s (Picture: London Transport Museum).

Displayed for five hours outside the London Transport Museum, a small exhibition was put together to detail the history of transport during the Great War and stories of conductors, drivers and passengers during the conflict.

Sam Mullins, Director, 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.”

The interior of a restored B-type bus.

Most of the B-type buses have since fallen into disrepair, but the London Transport Museum had one restored in 2014 with funds from the National Lottery.

Since then, it has been used in a wide variety of commemorative events, participating in the Battle of the Somme’s centenary and undertaking a 10-day tour of the Western Front.