Pemberton’s Rara Avis – Somaliland

Of JP’s photo collection, few depict a plate (and international oval SP) as rare as his London sighting, circa 1955,  of a Morris Oxford MO  Traveller, on British Somaliland plates.

As the rear door sports an ADAC badge, we may assume that the car had previously run in Germany, probably on British Zone BZ plates, in which case, the owner was probably an RAF or Army officer many of whom travelled round their foreign postings with their cars…….

The pressed figure ‘8’ is of an unusual design…..

S 815 from the Somaliland Protectorate British zone, until independence in 1960.  Seen in London;s West End.

S 815 from the Somaliland Protectorate British zone, until independence in 1960.   Seen in Coventry Street in London’s Theatreland  circa 1955.    Pemberton archive

(SP)_S 815_JPvb

Of the 1941-1960 plate types (of which so few illustrations exists) two prefixes existed – S and SO.   There is a suspicion arising that the Italian zone of the the Trusteeship of Somaliland issued SO, and the British zone a simple S.    Mega-collector, author and international cymbalist Jim Fox has gathered one of each into his gallery of exotica, beating the sum of the Other Collectors of the World by a factor of two!

 

Jim Fox' British Somaliland Protectorate S 1357 rarity.

Jim Fox’ British Somaliland Protectorate S 1357 rarity.

and Jim's SO 5611 believed to be from the Italian zone of the trusteeship territory 1941-49-60 and a bit beyond.

and Jim’s SO 5611 believed to be from the Italian zone of the trusteeship territory 1941-49-60 and a bit beyond.   (Fox archive)

Victor Brumby saw SO 5671 in Britain about 1961 on an Austin A50 Cambridge, driven by an English man with a huge Somali lady passenger.   Stopped for interview by our spotter on his Triumph bicycle, the business card of the driver gave ‘Mogadiscio’ as his home base – then the capital of Italian Somaliland.   The International Circulation Permit (ICP), which temporary imports to GB had to carry in place of a licence disc in those times, read SOM in the ‘Country of Origin’ line.     The 5671 plate was painted or stencilled and the car bore no international oval at the rear.

Note that S 815 wears a Visitor To Britain window flag, another authorised accessory for new arrivals.

 

Terra Incognita  could describe this benighted ‘country’ from the perspective of  collectors.   Who knows more?

P.S.    The S series plates could just as easily have come from Seychelles, Cyprus, Fiji, Singapore, Mauritius, Southern Rhodesia, and Barbados!       Fortunately, people usually used international ovals, to help the perplexed spotter!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Below:   Sometime after the Somalilands’ 1960 independence, this Italian-influenced Somalia system commenced:

The independence of Somalia gave rise to this series, about 1960.  This is seen in Nairobi in 1978

The independence of Somalia gave rise to this series, about 1960. This is seen in Nairobi in 1978, on a Benz lorry.    Vic Brumby archive

When the country collapsed into anarchy, few vehicles bore any plates at all!

This plate was 'liberated' by a Reuter camera team during a newsgathering visit in about 1983.   From an armoured Toyota pickup of one of the insurgent groups.

This plate was ‘liberated’ by a Reuters camera team during a newsgathering visit in about 1983. From an armoured Toyota pickup of one of the insurgent groups.  Brumby archive

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2 Responses to Pemberton’s Rara Avis – Somaliland

  1. smodriver says:

    Hello – great Blog – only just found it today. I collect period pictures of 1948 – 54 Morris Wolseley vehicles – so enjoyed finding this page. I am 99% sure that the Morris Traveller with Reg S 815 is actually the larger Morris Oxford MO? These were popular in Africa at the time being available from OCT’52 ( almost a year earlier than the Minor Travellers).

    Thanks
    Mike P
    WSM
    UK

    • Mike – your info on Morris exports is amazing to read. I accept your proposal that the Somaliland Protectorate car S 815 is the bigger model MO Oxford, rather than the Morris Minor Traveller I had advised.

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