So, a relaxing activity my wife I like to do on the weekend is watch the old movies on 9 Gem. You get a series of John Wayne movies, Bogart & Bacall, other westerns and war movies - great for a Saturday or Sunday arvo, particularly if a wet day (not that there’s been many of them in Brisbane this year).
This particularly Saturday, in the last month, we started watching a movie called “Ice cold in Alex”, which at first seemed a cryptic title for a movie - it made sense later. It was made in 1958, so it was in black and white (nothing wrong with that) and starred John Mills, Anthony Quayle, Harry Andrews and Sylvia Syms
The film is described in Wikipedia as “a British film described as a true story in the film's opening credits, based on the novel of the same name by British author Christopher Landon”. Is is set in Africa during the second would war at the time the Germans are about to take Tobruk. During the escape by the Allied forces to Alexandria, the main cast are separated and have to make their way across the desert to Alexandria in a military ambulance. Many encounters are had along the way (I want spoil it for those who want to watch it - I do recommend it), but the ambulance is subject to all sorts of challenges, break downs, quick sand, a leaky radiator and being shot at. The title of the movie actually refers to John Mill’s character who says that he just wanted to get to Alexandria for an ice cold beer.
At the end of the film I did my usual search on the film and found that the ambulance, the starring vehicle, was an Austin! It is an Austin K2/Y ambulance, called “Katy” in the film. From my search on this type of Austin, they were all referred to as “Katy”. According to Wikipedia “it was based on the civilian light truck Austin K30, differing mainly by having simple canvas closures in place of driver's cab doors”. It was further noted that Queen Elizabeth II, when she was simply Princess Elizabeth, was trained to drive one during the war (WWII).
It’s service also extended to the Korean war. Three Austin K2/Y ambulances participated in the VE-VJ days 50th anniversary parade down the Mall in London on 19 August 1995.
You can read more about the KY/2 on Wikipedia, just click here. Scroll to the bottom to see the photos of the then Princess Elizabeth with the KY/2, particularly the one with “L” plates on it.
Oh and just to note, Sylvia Syms also played the Queen Mother in the Helen Mirror movie, “The Queen”.
Here’s a link to the trailer. If you get the chance to watch, again, it’s a good movie when you have nothing else to do.