The army has always had to train drivers, until the 1970s few men joining the military had any experience of driving vehicles as cars were not that common to own amongst young men in civilian life. Even as more men joined the forces already in possession of a valid car license, few would have any experience of driving larger vehicles such as lorries. The army instructed those who needed to drive and issued them with licenses to show to military and civilian police to confirm that they were legally allowed behind the wheel. Today we are looking at a provisional license issued in the 1980s. It is made of a mustard coloured card and is kept in a plastic wallet to protect it:
The front of the card has the words ‘provisional’ stamped on the front in ink, and notes that the license conforms to Stanag 2176:
Stanag 2176 is a set of procedures that allow military vehicles to cross international borders. To cross the border a driver needs to have a military ID, a NATO travel order and for drivers a valid driving license, which this document acts as.
Inside the driving license is details of the soldier it was issued to, in this case a Gunner Tonkin of the Royal Artillery:
47 Regiment, Royal Artillery was equipped with Abbot self propelled guns at this point in time and in addition to these would have had wheeled vehicles on establishment such as lorries and land rovers and possibly even motorcycles for communications duties so there was plenty of need for qualified drivers and then as now men would have been keen to learn as they were getting paid to do, whereas in civilian life they would have had to pay for the privilege of learning!
The rear of the card has space to indicate where the holder has transferred to another unit, although in this case he appears to have stayed in the same unit throughout the lifetime of this license:
Most learners in the 1980s were instructed either at a unit level or at the Defence School of Transport in Leconfield on Humerside. Prior to 1964, army driver training was the responsibility of 6 Driver Training Battalion at Yeovil in Somerset and 15 Driver Training Battalion at Blandford in Dorset, both of the Royal Army Service Corps (RASC). In 1965, the role was transferred to the newly formed Royal Corps of Transport (RCT) where the majority of army drivers were trained in various training establishments, one of the largest being 12 Driver Training Regiment based at Aldershot. The Army School of Mechanical Transport was formed on 1 April 1977 from a reorganisation of army driver training. The training headquarters and its Mechanical Transport Wing, along with 12 Driver Training Regiment RCT, 401 troop RCT based at South Cerney and previously separate vehicle training elements of the Royal Armoured Corps, Royal Artillery, Royal Corps of Signals, Army Air Corps and Royal Army Ordnance Corps all moved to the site of RAF Leconfield, which had closed as Royal Air Force station on 1 January 1977.