Royal Enfield has launched a limited edition Classic 500 Pegasus motorcycle that is inspired by the RE/WD 125 Flying Flea, its legendary World War II motorcycle. The latter was the legendary lightweight World War II British paratroopers’ bike that RE claims was the first one to be dropped behind enemy lines. Manufactured in association with the British Army’s Parachute Regiment, the bike is limited to 1,000 units globally.
The motorcycle has been priced at Rs 2.5 lakh a pop on-road in India. Only 250 units will be available for the country, as deliveries begin July 10
Embodying the ‘pedigree of making resilient longstanding machines,’ the Classic 500 Peagasus was launched in England as the event was broadcast live on the company’s Facebook page. “The story of the Flying Flea is both remarkable and inspiring,” said Siddhartha Lal, CEO, Royal Enfield.
“Rugged military motorcycles have been an integral part of Royal Enfield’s heritage and continues to be till date, as we endeavour to build classic, simple, enduring motorcycles. Our machines have played important role in both World Wars, earning a reputation for endurance in the toughest conditions. The Classic 500 Pegasus is a homage to the legendary war stories and to the resilience and pedigree of Royal Enfield.”
The bike in question, the Flying Flea was a compact and capable, two-stroke 125cc motorcycle that saw action in some of greatest battles of World War II, including D-Day and Arnhem, according to a press release.
During WWII, tens of thousands of Royal Enfield motorcycles were shipped to almost every theatre of conflict. But the Flying Flea was the only proper motorcycle to be dropped successfully behind enemy lines with paratroopers, with the War Department ordering more than 4,000, added the release.
An invaluable asset to the elite soldiers of the newly-formed Parachute Regiment, it was dropped by parachute in a protective steel cradle or carried in Horsa assault gliders. On the ground, it was used for reconnaissance, communications and carrying soldiers into battle.
The versatile little Royal Enfield proved itself in September 1944’s Operation Market Garden, the largest airborne operation in history. A daring Allied attempt to shorten the war by entering Germany from Holland over a series of captured bridges, it culminated in the Battle of Arnhem where besieged and outnumbered paratroopers held out against German tank divisions for seven days, in an incredible show of grit and determination.
“Despatch riders went to headquarters at Oosterbeek Town Hall from the detachments,” remembers Arnhem veteran John Jeffries. “They used to be buzzing around from all over.” Motorcycle enthusiast John, who parachuted into Holland with the 4th Parachute Brigade, has fond memories of the Flying Flea. “I liked that motorcycle. They were a lovely size. I always judged a motorcycle by its weight and the Royal Enfield was just my type ”
The Flying Flea played a different but just as vital role on D-Day, the largest amphibious invasion in history. As the Allies fought to establish a beachhead in Normandy, Northern France, in preparation for the invasion of German-occupied Western Europe, hundreds of Flying Fleas and James ML motorcycles streamed from landing craft on to the beaches.
Speaking about the Flying Flea’s role during the D-Day operation, Gordon May, Royal Enfield historian, says, “The ramp would touch down and out would come the motorcycles. They were used as a means of rounding up troops and getting them forward and also accompanying troops much as a convoy escort rider would have done.” D-Day’s commanding officers later praised the lightweight motorcycles and their riders, known as ‘beachmasters’, for their part in the landings’ success.”