National Army Museum, Waiouru, New Zealand : Military History & Army War Museum

Universal Carrier

Commonly referred to as Bren Gun Carriers the Universal Carrier was a small, fast, fully tracked general purpose vehicle developed by the British in 1936. These carriers were used by both the Divisional Cavalry and infantry and saw action in nearly every theatre of World War II and the Korean War.

The first examples used in New Zealand were imported from Britain in April 1939 and later from Australia, but as the war continued locally produced carriers were built by the New Zealand Railway Workshops in and around Wellington. They remained in service with the New Zealand Army until 1958.

Crew: Two (usually)

Engine: Ford V-8 Petrol

Weight: 4 Tonnes

Speed: 48 km per hour

The National Army Museum’s Universal Carrier (pictured here) is one of the six original carriers to arrive in 1939 and was used as a pattern for the production of the LP or Local Pattern Carrier. It was built by Thornycroft in England in 1938. There are reputed to be 222 versions of the Universal Carrier built worldwide.

In April 1939 at the same time as the Universal Carriers, the first Bren light machine-guns also arrived in New Zealand. These light machine-guns were produced from 1937 and are considered to be one of the finest light machine-guns ever made. They were used in all theatres of World War II, Korea and Malaya and remained in service with the New Zealand Army until the late 1980s with the adoption of the C9 light machine-gun.