With the outbreak of World War One the whole of the output of the Commer Cars Ltd factory in Biscot Road, Luton - opened in July 1906 - was commandeered by the War Department.
Production was largely centred on the 'RC' four-ton lorry, of which around 3,000 were supplied to the War Office. Peak production was reached in 1916 when the payroll topped 1,000 for the first time.
The above picture by Luton photographer W. H. Cox gives a composite panoramic view of the main shop, possibly just before the war.
Commer vehicles provided highly popular at the front, as indicated in the following sample of letters from the Front in early 1915.
Driver R. W. Poole (3626), 67th Company, Section 2, A.S.C. (Mechanical Transport), with the Indian Contingent, wrote: "The work here is awfully interesting, especially the behaviour of the different cars under most awful road conditions. For heavy work the Commer has proved itself predominant." He said three cars of another unnamed make that were more trouble than they were worth had been replaced with Commers.
Sgt Neston Holt, A.S.C. (Mechanical Transport), wrote: "I had several Commer Cars in my charge when I left for France on August 9th, 1914. I think I have only lost one of your machines up to date, and that with a broken wheel. This machine I put in an hotel yard in Villiers Colleres, covered it with stable straw, and eventually recovered it when the Germans retired during the battle of the Aisne."
And Pte J. H. Williams, 2739, 1st Section, No 1 A.P.M.T., wrote: "I have been driving one of your lorries ever since I came out here in August, and after doing close on 4,000 miles with it, I have just overhauled it and I must say all the bearings were in the pink of condition, and as it has been re-tyred all round it will be as good as new, in fact better as the bearings are all ground in."
The slideshow below also includes pictures of the Biscot Road factory soon after it opened and shortly before the First World War, and a photo of an early Commer bus that operated between Leagrave and Luton in 1909.