Family’s vintage military vehicles heading for D Day 75th anniversary in France
A Shropshire family with a passion for restoring vintage military vehicles is heading to Normandy to take part in events to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the D Day landings on June 6.
Ben Kaye, 42, of Mytton, near Shrewsbury has enlisted help from his father, Tom, 72, and friends Peter Meakin from Bomere Heath and Robin Frostick from Vennington to restore a 1940 AEC Matador medium artillery tractor especially for the historic anniversary.
Also making the 300-mile journey to Normandy beaches at Arromanches will be a 1940 Scammell Pioneer R100 heavy artillery tractor.
Ben will be joined on the trip by his wife Emma, sons Sam, 10 and Will, eight, parents, Tom and Julie and friends Robin and Helen Frostick and Peter. Pat Jagger, from Pentre, is transporting the Scammell Pioneer R100 on a low loader.
To ensure that the vehicles run smoothly during their French adventure, Shrewsbury-based Morris Lubricants has donated heavy duty engine and gear oils to Ben, a loyal customer.
The Kaye family and friends leave for France on Friday, May 31 and will take part in a series of parades and events in the week leading up to the D Day anniversary.
They will be taking with them a wreath to be laid in the sea on behalf of Emma’s grandfather, Charles Owen, a former Royal British Legion parade marshal and a white ensign belonging to Ben’s former primary school teacher, Ann Malpass from Mytton, which was displayed on a gunboat captained by her late father on D Day, June 6, 1944.
“It’s a great responsibility to take the white ensign because few flags survived after the D Day landings, which makes it rare and valuable,” said Ben, who runs a busy Range Rover and Land Rover repair and diagnostics business.
“We will be on the beach at Arromanches early on the morning of June 6 and we all have to be off the beach early because of a high tide.
“There will be veterans there for the events and we think it’s important for them to be spotlighted for what they did for us 75 years ago. Sadly, the number of D Day veterans decreases at every anniversary.
“Had we not got a foothold in Europe through the D Day landings, we would probably have been invaded by the Germans. It turned the tide of the war and I think it’s important to remember the guys that died there to keep us free.
“A card written by my mum and attached to a wreath that my sons placed in the sea at Arromanches for the 70th anniversary in 2014 best summed it up for me. It read: ‘With our sincerest gratitude to the bravery of those who fought and those who made the ultimate sacrifice, so that we, the following generations, could have the opportunity to live in peace and freedom.’
Ben, who has always been fascinated with military vehicles, began collecting vehicles to restore at the age of 19, when he bought his first Scammell Pioneer SV25 recovery vehicle for £2,000 with a student loan.
His father, who was craft teacher at Meole Brace Secondary School for 38 years, then caught the collecting bug and they now have 15 vehicles, including two tanks and five Scammells.
Ben’s passion for Scammells hold no bounds, as he went out on his first date with Emma in the recovery vehicle, which was also used when they got married.
His latest restoration project, a Scorpion tank, is nearing completion after 14 years and Ben has promised to drive it to school to collect his sons this summer.
Sam and Will are being allowed by the school to take a week off to travel to France for the 75th anniversary of the D Day landings. The headteacher recognises that it is a special occasion and will be of significant educational value to them.
“The attraction for me of restoring vintage military vehicles is the history,” explained Ben. “It’s being able to do something that I enjoy as a hobby and a passion which I can share with Emma and the boys.”
He thanked Morris Lubricants, one of Europe’s leading family owned lubricants companies which is celebrating its 150th birthday this year, for donating the oils.
Ring Free XHD 30W monograde is a high quality engine oil particularly recommended for haulage, plant contractors and certain mixed fleet operations and Golden Film AG 140 Gear Oil is a mineral oil-based lubricant, formulated without extreme pressure additives which offers natural film strength, anti-foam performance and long-term stability.
“I buy all the oil for my hobby and business from Morris Lubricants because it’s good quality and the back-up service is excellent,” explained Ben. “You can ring their technical department with a query and speak to a human being which means a lot when you are working on cars that can be worth up to £100,000.”
Andrew Goddard, Morris Lubricants’ chairman, said the company was delighted to supply oil for the Kaye family’s British vintage military vehicles that will be travelling to the 75th anniversary of the D Day landings.
“These engine and gear oils are perfect for Ben’s vehicles,” he added. “They are recommended for use in veteran, classic and vintage vehicles, where engine design and tolerances prohibit the use of modern multigrade, high additive level oils.”
Summer Lubrinews OUT NOW
Check out the latest edition of Morris Lubricants official Newsletter Lubrinews.
You can find out the latest updates on Morris’ 150th anniversary plans or the exciting build up to Guy Martin opening Automechanika at the NEC.
There is also updates from Morris Lubricants Racing ambassadors Michael Rutter & Lydia Walmsley. As well as the latest product updates and a lot more.
Best of British come together
The automotive industry in Britain is facing a number of challenges. Alongside diesel sales declines and the need to persevere with new technologies, Brexit is also adding a complication to many UK-based companies.
Britain has a strong engineering prowess, dating back to the industrial revolution and the Great Exhibition of 1851. Since then, companies have been established to take advantage of great strides in technology and the needs that surround them. While many have fallen by the wayside, a number have survived, adding heritage to a range of products that are moving from historical to modern-day. Two such companies are now joining forces to weather the storms of change and benefit from each other’s expertise.
A piece of history
Morris Lubricants was established 150-years ago and has been led by the same family for five generations, making it a true British manufacturer of oils and lubricants. The business grew to supply oils after the First World War, when JK Morris, the son of founder James Kent Morris, built on his experience selling for the Anglo-American Oil Company, to purchase surplus lubricant under tender from the Disposal Board set up after the war. This enabled the business to achieve a nationwide status as a supplier and developer of oils for the increasingly popular internal combustion engine.
The Morgan Motor Company may be slightly younger, at 110-years, but it too can look back over a rich history of engineering heritage. After setting up a car sales and servicing business in 1905, H.F.S Morgan started dreaming of a vehicle of his own design. These thoughts led to the legendary Morgan 3-Wheeler in 1909, a simple design that took a motorcycle engine and integrated it into a lightweight chassis and body. Although not originally intended as a commercial venture, the favourable reaction to Morgan’s machine encouraged him to consider putting the car into production.
Sense of tradition
History and tradition are a key factor in both businesses. Morris Lubricants established a base in Shrewsbury in 1912, and as its oil business grew, the company remained loyal to its roots. Oils are still blended in the town for all types of vehicle and industries including the classic range of Morgan sports cars. Being based in Britain allows the manufacturer to work closely with its suppliers, while also ensuring its main market can receive products as quickly as possible.
Morgan too has kept a sense of its history over the years. Away from the world of mass-production, the carmaker prefers for its vehicles to feature bespoke craftsmanship and quality. Building just 850 cars a year, each is put together by craftsmen using a combination of ash, aluminium and leather. These builders perfect their skills over a lifetime bringing together heritage, innovation and cutting-edge technology from the world today.
Look to the future
Both companies are facing challenges as the world moves on into the 21st century. For Morris, the increasing demand for economical and efficient engines in vehicles means more pressure on the lubricant system. The addition of a turbocharger and reduction in the size of the sump means oil has to do more work with less fluid. This brings unique challenges, developing products that can lubricate efficiently while working at higher temperatures, with thinner viscosities demanded by carmakers.
Historically, companies supplying aftermarket oils only had a small number of viscosities to work with, the most popular being 10W40. Today, however, vehicle manufacturers have their own specific requirements to match their finely tuned engines. From producing only two or three different blends, today Morris Lubricants develops multiple products for the many cars on the road today, alongside its range of classic oils, suitable for everything from vintage roadsters to Merlin aircraft engines.
Morgan itself is facing challenges, needing to adapt to the demand of modern motoring. Its current range, including the 4/4, the Plus 4, the Roadster and the Plus 8, was added to in 2011 by an updated version of the classic 3-Wheeler, after an absence of 50 years. In 2016, the company developed its first-ever electric vehicle, the EV3, taking its historic three-wheel design and adding electric motors to make it fully zero-emission.
The carmaker also needs to ensure that the engines in its Classic range run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Therefore, Morgan has come together with Morris Lubricants to source an engine oil that will protect its classic range of Plus 4, Roadster and 4/4 marques keeping them running smoothly, with the latest developments in lubrication benefitting the thousands of proud Morgan owners around the world.
To help promote this product release Morris Lubricants have called on their Racing brand ambassador Rebecca Jackson. They have recorded a video that demonstrates the elegance of Morgan’s vehicles and the benefits of using the specially formulated product that Morris Lubricants has blended for their vehicles. Rebecca has great experience in front of a camera following her time hosting the TV Show “Modern Wheels or classic Steals” on Dave. To watch this video head to the Morris Lubricants YouTube page
As Brexit becomes bigger news, with uncertainty continuing over future relations with Europe, the story of two British brands with fantastic heritage and innovative ideas for future challenges shows that the UK’s industrial and engineering prowess will endure throughout.
Morris Lubricants Welcomes Chris Slezakowski
Morris Lubricants has appointed a “fresh pair of eyes” at the top to guide the successful business to the next level.
Chris Slezakowski, managing director at Shrewsbury-based Morris Lubricants, is relishing the challenge of taking the business forward. He will be working under the guidance of executive chairman Andrew Goddard, a fifth-generation direct family descendant of company founder James Kent Morris.
“This is a tremendous company,” said Chris. “It’s very rare to find a company that is celebrating 150 years of trading. That gives me a feeling of longevity and investment in its workers and, after working for a number of global companies, it’s great to feel part of a business that is firmly established in the local community.
“The company is successful and is seeking ways to reach new heights of performance, particularly in customer service. We have a number of new products to launch, new ways to reach our customers and some cutting-edge technology to keep us ahead in our sector. Who wouldn’t want to join a successful business with longevity and security that wants to be better?
“The opportunities for Morris Lubricants are all within our grasp and I am planning to use my experience in previous roles to develop our business into the next phase where digitisation and technical excellence will set us apart.
“I have not been brought in to keep things the same, but change should be gradual, positive and beneficial.
“My vision is to take the company to the next level by building on the success of the business and reaching the highest levels of performance attainable. Beyond that our ambition is to position Morris Lubricants as the premier specialist market choice and to be known for quality, value and service.”
Looking to the future, he revealed that the company is expecting to grow through market presence and acquisition.
“A hallmark of this business is very conservative growth,” he added. “I have never seen a business that has grown in such a controlled way. Often businesses chase turnover which leads to problems with the organisational structure, but Morris Lubricants has a steady approach to growth which happens as a consequence of great service rather than seeing growth as a target in itself.”
“The company is a lubricants specialist whereas many of our competitors do lots of other things. Because we have nothing else to distract us, our whole business relies on being experts in lubricants and it’s crucial that we maintain that focus.
“The sector is dominated by the strive for better performance. Every product that we ship has a quality standard and that is not true in other industries. Half a million litres of lubricants a week is blended in Shrewsbury and we have hundreds of formulations and thousands of product variants.”
Impressed by the length of service of employees, he added: “I have discovered that the business is run by people who are dedicated to performing well. Staff turnover is around two per cent when the industry average is 10 per cent. People want to stay with us; that’s the hallmark of a business with strong family values.”
Chris joined the business from the construction sector, having worked as a consultant with clients worldwide for 18 months. Prior to that he spent 11 years at SIG, rising from national accounts director to the leadership team at the £1.6 billion UK business. He advised government on housing strategy and offsite construction techniques and represented the company on a number of influential sector panels.
Earlier in his career, he studied physics at university and chose to work for pneumatic machinery company Atlas Copco for 10 years, rising from junior salesman to country manager for the UK, gaining valuable skills and experience along the way.
He then spent four years each at Hepworth Building Products – now Wavin – as sales director and Burdens as group commercial director of a business with a £300 million turnover.
Away from work, Chris & wife Dawn live in Pershore and their son Thomas lives in Los Angeles, and works as a creative director of a software development company. Chris enjoys watching international rugby, playing the piano and growing bonsai trees.
Automechanika Exhibition 2018
Automechanika took place at the NEC between the 5-7 June 2018, for this event we wanted to give customers a completely different experience from the CV show. Our stand was resplendent in blue and yellow with two large led screens showing another Guy Martin video made especially for the automotive market, and we were very kindly loaned an F4 race car by Wolverhampton University Racing Team. The university are one of the teams we provide oil for their racing throughout the year.
We also gave two excellent talks within the Aftermarket Seminar theatre one from Adrian Hill, our Automotive Product Manager and the other from Rebecca Jackson one of our female racing ambassadors. Both were excellent. You can catch a glimpse of Rebecca's really positive talk about her journey to Le Mans here entitled "Making dreams a reality"
Commercial Vehicle Exhibition 2018
The Commercial Vehicle Exhibition took place at the NEC between 24-26 April 2018. Our stand, even though we say so ourselves looked amazing!
The stand was split into two halves, one half had a nod to our 150 years within the lubricants industry, with historical images and loads of retro tins and paraphenalia from our archives and the other half had a giant LED screen showing our latest corporate vides, including our Guy Martin commercial vehicle video, the What Oil app was up and running and we also had our augmented reality engine, which if you didnt see it or get to marvel at its fabulousness then it will be making other appearances at future exhibitions.