Ducking and Weaving – a bit of WWII history made modern

After the end of World War II the allied forces were left with a significant number of pieces of equipment that were, thankfully, no longer needed. This “army surplus” established a system which still exists today, as far as I know, at least in the United Kingdom.

One of the more interesting items available was the DUKW amphibious vehicle (aka “Ducks”) that had been used so successfully in the beach landings in Europe. Several of these were purchased by locals in Hunstanton, Norfolk, where they were perfect for fishing and crabbing activities since this area of East Anglia has an extremely shallow shoreline (and correspondingly dangerous fast incoming tide) which extends for about a mile or so before the water gets deep at low tide.

My understanding is that by the early 1960s some locals were offering trips to tourists to go out on the sands and into the sea in a genuine WWII amphibious truck. These original Ducks were certainly running at least until the 1990s when I went on such a trip, although by then they really were starting to show signs of wear and tear due to their age and the corrosive nature of sea water on their hulls.

Now, fast forward a couple of decades to when we were living in San Francisco and I was quite surprised to see them operating as commercial tours. Over the last several years these vehicles seem to be popping up everywhere that has a coastline or riverfront, and indeed, I have been on them not only in California but also Philadelphia.

We were in Boston recently, and alongside refurbished original DUKWs, there now seem to be newer, and probably safer, custom-designed amphibious vehicles available. The “superduck” is an example, and makes an interesting, if ungainly, sight when seen in the harbor.


Although the links to WWII landing craft will obviously be lost in due time the various Ducks seem to be doing a roaring trade as we move on from this chapter in our history.


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