Pontoons or assault boats?

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by 8RB, Jul 1, 2020.

  1. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Could anyone tell me, are these bridging pontoons or assault boats being unloaded? Given what took place on date and location, when photo was made, they could be either. I have, however, found differing captions to this photo.

    Pontoons or assault boats.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
  2. JDKR

    JDKR Member Patron

    Hmmm. Difficult to tell. My understanding is that the folding assault boat had a square stern (transom) allowing an outboard engine to be fitted whereas the folding boat equipment (FBE) had pointed ends. Usefully, the photograph does not give any clues to this! Do you know the unit doing the unloading? If they are infantry (8 RB?) then it is probable that these are assault boats; if they are sappers then they will be FBE. The location might also be relevant. If it is nowhere near where a FBE was built then we have our answer.

    My gut feeling is that these are assault boats given the proximity of the Comet, indicating that the assault crossing location is not far away. That is, however, a massive hunch!
     
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  3. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    All JDKR says is correct. I can only add that Folding Boat Equipment bridge pontoons were normally carried on special 6X4 lorries which also carry a lot on ancilliary equipment such as trestles, decking etc. Assault boats were carried in GS lorries.

    Mike
     
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  4. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    Hopefully JohnS is passing and can give his thoughts, he has written books on Assault Boats etc from a quick glance at his "Engineer Assault Boats in Canadian Service" I'd say they are Assault boats rather than FBE, but I'm not sure
     
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  5. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    The location is Stolzenau, 5 April 1945. 8RB did a crossing in assault boats. The engineers tried to build a bridge. After heavy fighting 8RB pulled back and crossed at Petershagen. The bridging plan at Stolzenau was abandoned.
     
  6. JDKR

    JDKR Member Patron

    The location being Stolzenau gives us, I believe, the answer. During the advance, the VIII Corps intention was to develop two divisional-level bridging points on the Weser: one at Petershagen, the other further downstream at Stolzenau. Both bridges would be Cl40 Bailey pontoons capable of taking armour and heavy transport. FBE were useful for rapid, mainly infantry-based bridging operations as they could only take Cl 5 or 9. Two FBE were built on the Weser but they were upstream from Petershagen in the Todtenhausen area. The boats being unloaded in the photograph are therefore assault boats not FBE and were used in quantity at Stolzenau not only by 8RB but also 1 Cdo Bde.

    I cover these operations plus many others in my forthcoming book (please excuse the plug) 'Theirs the Strife' which will, Covid19 permitting, be published Autumn 20 - Spring 21.

    Best
     
  7. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the plug. Looking forward to that!
     
  8. JDKR

    JDKR Member Patron

    Oh dear, now I'm not so certain! I have just had a look at IWM video A70 290/1 and it clearly shows bits of a FBE in the Weser as well as shots of a Bailey Cl40 pontoon (see attached photos). The shots of 8RB crossing the Weser show the infantry in assault boats. I don't have any record of either 13 or 612 Fd Sqns building an FBE so this is a bit of a mystery! Looking more closely at 8RB's photo, it looks as if the boat on the ground at the back of the truck has pointed ends so perhaps the boats being unloaded are FBE after all. What fun!
     

    Attached Files:

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  9. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

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  10. JDKR

    JDKR Member Patron

    I have a photo of infantry of 4KSLI crossing the Aller in a FBE. No paddles are evident as they were using a fixed line to haul themselves across. So, it looks as if FBE could be used in lieu of assault boats if the latter were unavailable and a line could be put in place. I’m not aware of lines being used at Stolzenau - will need to check - but if they were it is entirely possible that the FBE being unloaded from the truck were for infantry as well as engineer use. What I don’t know is whether FBE could be paddled! Someone may know.
     
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  11. JDKR

    JDKR Member Patron

    You learn something new every day! I’m now pretty confused and 8RB can take his pick as to whether the photo shows FBE for sapper use, FBE for infantry use or a Goatley McBoatley for infantry use.
     
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  12. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    From what I can see the Assault Boat had soft sides that lifted up/fold down concertina style and the FBE has stiff looking sides that folded in/out - looking at the boat on the right of the photo it matches the collapsed down natured of the Assault Boat rather than folded in FBE. Not sure where the Goatley fits in - its seems to be similar/the same as the Assault Boat.
     
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  13. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    chrisgrove says this there.

    Canvas Assault Boats.

     
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  14. 8RB

    8RB Well-Known Member

    Thanks for all the replies! Will need to have good look through to see if it leads to a definite conclusion...

    Judging form text below (Noel Bell in his book on 8 RB G Coy), they did not use lines (otherwise he wouldn't have worried about being carried too far down by the current).

    8RB G Coy 450405.jpg
     
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  15. Trux

    Trux 21 AG Patron

    I think I have the answer. I have a number of handbooks and training paphlets, some original, some reprints.

    In NW Europe the standard assault boat was the MkIII. This retained the folding canvas sides of the earlier marks but was longer, wider and pointed at both ends. Those in the photo seem to match in that they have folding canvas sides, pointed at both ends and a rough measure of the boat against the men in the photo gives about the right length.

    As mentioned above the assault boat was carried in 3ton GS lorries while FBE were carried as raft loads on special 6X4 lorries.

    The assault boat could be used as a raft to carry light vehicles, usually jeeps or anti tank guns. Several rafts could be joined to make a short bridge.

    Mike
     
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