Florida's Motorcycle Corps

By: Dr. David Coles, Longwood University

Starting as the grassroots campaign of a local motorcycle club, the Motorcycle Defense Troop eventually played an official role in home defense.

In 1940, Tampa resident Guy H. Allen organized members of a local motorcycle club into a quasi-military unit called the Motorcycle Defense Troops. In June 1940, Allen contacted the War Department proposing to organize a local defense unit. A second unit was established in St. Petersburg, with plans for an Orlando chapter. Receiving no immediate response, Allen continued to organize his units with support from local chambers of commerce. U.S. Senator Claude Pepper also expressed his support for the Motorcycle Corps.

Following the mobilization of the Florida National Guard in late 1940, Allen tried to incorporate his units into the Florida Home Guard. Eventually they served as part of the State Defense Council’s Division of Transportation and Communication. Members escorted military convoys and performed other civil defense work. As the war progressed, many enlisted or were drafted into the armed services. Gasoline and tire shortages curtailed their activities. Gradually the military took over most of the functions of the Motorcycle Corps.

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