RL Bedford


The RL Bedford would be my favourite truck and I was really chuffed to acquire the Dinky Model.

Introduced into New Zealand Army service from 1958, the RL served the New Zealand forces for 31 years until 1981 when it was started to be replaced by the Mercedes Benz UNIMOG, with final retirement in 1989.

My first true military experience of a RL was when I arrived on the train at Waiouru for my Basic Recruit Course early in April 1983. There was about a dozen of us disembarking off the train, and as expected we were met by several scary sounding and looking Corporals We were all gathered up and directed to load all out belongings on the a waiting RL. One keen lad, who had climbed into the back to load the bags, unwisely took a seat, this individuals action broke some unknown rule, the result was that he got to remain in his seat for the ride into camp, whilst the rest of us enjoyed the run behind the truck for the short trip into the camp, here began my love/hate relationship with the Bedford RL

Over the next few years I would learn to drive in a RL, obtaining my Heavy Trade licence and I would spend many hours behind the wheel on courses and exercises learing convoy driving, vehicle camoflauge, basic maintaince and how to get comfortable in seats desingned for function not comfort.

I wouldn’t fully appreciate the RL until 1987/89 during my posting to Singapore, where I  spent many hours, driving many hundreds of kilometers around Malaysia to fully appreciate the RL and what a remarkable vehicle these 30 year old beasts were. Those were some fun times with great people.

In late 1989 with no ceromony to commerate their 30 or so years of service (I was 23) I was part of the final packet of RL’S that were parked up on the former parade ground of Dieppe Barracks for their final retirement from NZ Army service for auction to civilian buyers.

RL bedford 1989

New Zealand Bedford RL, Butterworth, Malaysia, 1989. Robert McKie Collection, 2017


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