The Jeep

The reasons why it was called Jeep are uncertain. But explanations are numerous. It’s purported to be related to a term used by US army mechanics for untested vehicles; or after a character “Eugene the Jeep” in Popeye cartoons. The most accepted explanation is that it relates to its military ‘general purpose’ label – ie: GP.

Whatever the origin, the doorless, roofless ‘Jeep’ was transport at its most basic, with the ability to carry at least four uniformed soldiers to places where only a tracked vehicle or tractor would be prepared to go. Simple, but in terms of function, it was as significant as any of the USA’s other military hardware.

Though it was of Willys design, both Willys and Ford produced Jeeps for the war effort. And although born of the battlefield, it found its way into civilian life after the war and started a line of vehicles that continues today, utilising the same basic four-wheel drive principles that made the original so unstoppable and versatile – and even some of the styling cues.

Indeed, developments of the original design proliferated, with numerous variants produced, including many built under licence in other countries. The Jeep was a familiar sight in Korea and Vietnam for example.

Officially Willys secured the rights to use the name from 1945 and started production of a civilian CJ version. The company officially secured the Jeep trademark in 1950.

Original Jeeps are now highly valued and, because of their basic nature are still competent offroad vehicles despite the lack of modern electronic assistance.

The 4WD system and drive-train are as straightforward as could be imagined with a three-speed manual gearbox, rear-wheel or all-wheel drive with high and low range transfer case.

The short wheelbase, minimal overhangs and high ground clearance are principles still adhered to by most of today’s off-roaders. The Jeep’s light weight (it was originally less than one tonne) and small size make it still more manoeuvrable than most.

Information from

Photos courtesy of The Rural Life Museum, Robinvale in conjunction with Robinvale Sub-Branch Returned & Services League

Military Bicycle

Military Bicycle

This bike belonged to Jim Holland from Robinvale and is on display in The Rural Life Museum.

The AIF cycling units have often been forgotten in military history but the humble bicycle played a very important role in the logistics of warfare.  The simplicity of the bike made transportation quick and reliable.  Even in 2008 the Australian Military were using the bicycle in East Timor to improve flexibility of field patrols with a unit called Bicycle Infantry Mounted Patrol (BIMP).  Here we are, nearly 100 years on, and it still plays an import role in military life as it does in civilian.

Information from

Photo courtesy of The Rural Life Museum, Robinvale in conjunction with Robinvale Sub-Branch Returned & Services League

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