>What's your take on that bit about most of the Marmons still being in storage when the Japanese barged in?<
Well, with mismanagement and misappropriation rife during this campaign, I would not at all be surprised. The matter of the 175 recce cars really interest me.
With regards to South Africa's preference for wheeled rather than tracked vehicles you commented:
>I should imagine so, given that the army has frequently acted in a police role....<
Yes, the army often did act in a police role and is still involved in peace-keeping operations in Africa but its preference for wheeled vehicles is rather due to the need for mobility, as it was during the Boer war, the WW 1 and 2 campaigns that South African land forces were involved in and during the "Bush War" of the eighties. When we're talking about wheeled versus tracked vehicles, we're not only talking about troop transport,logistics and recconaissance either but also frontline fighting vehicles and artillery.
To quote from just one of several recent press statements regarding South Africa's latest armoured fighting vehicle:
"South African land forces have historically used far more wheeled vehicles than tracked armor, in large part because of the suitability of their regional terrain. This focus, coupled with a security environment of guerrilla warfare with heavy use of land mines, led South African firms to develop mine-resistant wheeled vehicles over 30 years ago. South African designers pioneering the "armoured wheeled v-hull" concept that has suddenly received serious attention and procurement dollars from the US military. Even today, South Africa's mobile howitzers (G6 6x6 Rhino), armoured fighting vehicle/tank destroyer (28-ton, 8×8 Rooikat), the current Ratel 6x6 Infantry Fighting Vehicle and its replacement, the Badger, 8x8 IFV are all wheeled".
The South African Reconnaissance Car (I insist!), was specifically developed for the UDF's Mobile Field Force's requirements of primarily a reconnaissance vehicle (as the official name implies), that could be produced in great numbers, to suit fighting a mobile war on the vast open plains of Africa. Despite being hastily put together from mostly off-the-shelf components,I'm beginning to think that it was in fact the best vehicle of its type during the North African campaign. The Germans also thought so and liked it as much as the did South African-made boots! Great for the desert - for the jungles of Malaya, less so.