From Slide Rule, the autobiography of Nevil Shute

We had a motor bicycle between us by that time, a new Rudge Multi. My parents must have been very wise to launch out on this extravagance at a time when my father must have foreseen rising taxation, for the Rudge cost almost sixty pounds, a lot of money in those days.
Although completely unmechanical himself, my father saw good sense in Fred’s contention that every officer ought to know something about motors, revolutionary though that doctrine seemed. My mother had another angle on it; she foresaw that in the holidays my life would be empty without Fred since we had been so much together, and she thought that if I had a motor bicycle while Fred was away at the war it would ease the loneliness.
So in September 1914 when I was fifteen years old I took delivery of the Rudge from the depot in Stephens Green, Fred being in hospital. I had never ridden a motor bicycle before though I had a very comprehensive theoretical knowledge, and I was too shy to admit my inexperience.
The Rudge mechanic gave me a shove off in amongst the trams and for a moment I was out of control while my body accustomed itself to the unfamiliar weight of the machine and the great surge of power that small movements of the throttle produced, for the Rudge was no lightweight but a man-sized, powerful machine. Then I got the hang of it and rode round Stephens Green a couple of times gingerly manipulating the infinitely variable gear, and finally rode it home in triumph.
From time to time in life one gets a moment of sheer ecstasty; I had one of them that day.
Fred had the Rudge at Sandhurst through the winter, and I went back to school where military training was now to take up much of our free time. In the spring he was commissioned and posted to the depot of the regiment at Falmouth, and in the Easter holidays my father and mother took me there to stay for a fortnight so that we could see something of Fred before he went to France.
I think war was still romantic in those days, early in 1915; certainly nobody yet had any conception of what casualties could do to a nation. Fred was very smart in his new uniform, his Sam Browne belt beautifully polished, his sword impressive, his revolver massive, new, and fragrant with clean gun oil…
Fred went to Flanders with a draft, and I rode the Rudge Multi home. It was the first big journey I had made alone in my life, and it took me four days to get from Falmouth to Holyhead. Nearly forty years later it is difficult to see why it should have taken me so long, for I did nothing else but travel. I can remember a vague impression that a hundred miles was an enormous distance and a good day’s riding, and I think the fact of the matter must be that roads were generally bad in those days, and motor bicycles much slower than we now recollect…
In adventure and fatigue the journey was probably comparable in these days to a drive from London to Rome or from Boston to Chicago, and that I accomplished it without mishap gave my self-confidence a boost which was rather needed, for I still stammered very badly.
In the middle of the summer term Fred was badly wounded, at a place called l’Epinette near Armentières…In these days of sulfa drugs, blood plasma, and penicillin nobody would die of the wounds Fred got, extensive though they were. He was evacuated down to the base hospital at at Wimereux and for ten days or so he made good progress. Then gangrene set in and became uncontrollable, in itself an indication of the march of medical science, because the medical attention that he got was very good.
My father and mother crossed to France to be with him, as was common in those days of gentler war, and he died about three weeks after he was wounded, with my mother by his side.
If Fred had lived we might have had some real books one day, not the sort of stuff that I turn out, for he had more literature in his little finger than I have in my whole body. He was only nineteen when he died, and after nearly forty years it still seems strange to me to that I should be older than Fred.