‘Seep’ used during WW II saves scores in Chennai

Vinayak Shankar with his 1943 Ford GPA Amphibious Seep with which he helped rescue services across Chennai. -Photo: Sruthisagar Yamunan  

Seventy-two years after it was first produced, the 1943 Ford GPA Amphibious Seep, which helped put thousands of Allied troops on the Normandy beach during World War II, came to the rescue of Chennai residents when a business man used the vehicle for extensive relief work.

When Vinayak Shankar of Krishna Mines realised the proportions of the flooding in Chennai, he quickly called up his men in Tirunelveli to transport the Ford GPA on a truck to the city. When the ‘amphibious seep’ finally arrived on Tuesday, Mr. Shankar rushed to Kottupuram and met officials, offering to help in the rescue and relief efforts.

By March 1943, Ford had built 12,778 Seeps which marked its presence by dropping Allied troops on to Normandy in ‘Operation Neptune’ on June 6, 1944.

The landing is considered the most decisive military operations that quickened the destruction of the Nazi regime.

While the officers in Chennai first hesitated, they quickly realised how efficient the ‘amphibious’ jeep was in manoeuvring in deep waters. In Kotturpuram, Mr. Shankar braved strong currents of the Adayar river in spate to distribute food packets to stranded residents. “At one point, the current was so strong that I swirled with the vehicle. I had to hook the vehicle to a building and then distribute the food packets,” he said.

Mr. Shankar has a special mechanic, Udhayasuriyan, who has been with his family for thirty years and takes care of the Seep, which runs on petrol.

“After World War II, the British brought a few of these vehicles to be put to use in the Brahmaputra. When they were leaving India, some were sold off to locals. My grandfather picked one,” he said.

Mr. Shankar was so much in demand on Saturday that much of the food distribution to flood-affected colonies happened on his Seep. “When I looked at how the people were stranded, my conscience did not let me stay idle. Miners are usually seen as troublemakers. I also wanted to prove that notion wrong. We are also very much human,” he said.

Ford GPA, deployed to drop Allied troops on Normandy Beach, delivers food packets

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Printable version | Mar 4, 2021 6:13:35 AM |

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