The longest Bailey bridge ever built

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by alberk, Aug 16, 2020.

  1. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Some of the tree trunks cut by the Canadians were up to 18 metres long and were used as piles. All in all 33 piers were constructed using timber. These piers carried a bridge with an overall length of 713 metres.
    This apparently shows how prefabricated segments are moved into position using the track on the finished stretch. I first thought that the vehicle on the right was an engine but it looks more like a waggon.
  2. ploughman

    ploughman Junior Member

    It is an 0-60 Diesel Loco of a similar style to those that were used on BR from the 50's till recently.
    THe bridge sections look like they are just resting on trolleys.
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  3. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Hi ploughman,
    thanks for the information - the picture makes much more sense that way!
  4. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    The 33 piers of „Victory Bridge“ at Spyck carried a bridge that would allow shipping on the river Rhine. Between piers number 15 and 16 a wider span of 32 metres (104 feet) allowed the passage of barges; these two piers were fitted with a lifting bridge mechanism. When shipping started after the war the barges were navigated through the gap with the help of German manned pilot boats, which were under the direction of the local Waterway Authority. Ships going downstream had to turn around before reaching the bridge and had to make their way astern through the passage in the bridge.
    6_Victory bridge At Spyck plan.jpg
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  5. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Part of the railway line of the Victory Bridge that ran through the flood plain on the east bank of the Rhine was elevated to make it 'high water proof'. This picture shows the destroyed tracks with the Hoch Elten feature in the background. This stretch of the tracks also had to be rebuild by the engineers. (see also: RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (30 Corps in operation 'Turnscrew')).

    Hoch Elten 2.jpg
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2020
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  6. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Thanks for this addition, stolpi. Just so that I understand you correctly: These structures in the picture were from the original railway line and had broken down after the old line was given up in 1912?
  7. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Alberk - I'm not a specialist in the history of this specific railway. What I have been told by a local expert is that the approach on the east bank ran over a viaduct to make it water-proof for the annual high waters. The structures on the picture are from the original railway. My assumption is that the damage was done by Allied artillery fire in the Rhine Cossing operaton. The Hoch Elten feature received a lot of attention from the Canadians and was even bombed from the air.

    The railroad nowadays is out of use. I do not know if this stretch of the railroad still exists. Never went there to investigate.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2020
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  8. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    That does make sense - thanks. It should be added that the old railway (obsolete by 1945) lead north to Elten and via Zevenaar on to the Dutch North Sea ports. The British engineers in 1945 linked their bridge and their own tracks to the existing tracks of the major railway from Amsterdam to Cologne that is still in use today. So the route the British built led south, towards Wesel and Cologne. For that purpose they laid tracks at Spyck that formed - as it is called locally - the "Englischer Bogen" or "English curve". That's at least what I found out in a web search. I am not much of an expert on this bridge, either - this British railway bridge at Spyck never interested me much before. That changed when I started to look into it recently... One does not find much about it on the web unless one knows its name i.e. "Victory Bridge". Once I had that name it became easier to find information...
  9. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    I just found out that the bridge at Spyck only served for a short period of time. The Bailey bridge near Spyck over the Rhine, built in 1945 by British engineers, was severely damaged by ice in the winter of 1945/1946 and then demolished.

    Courtesy: Genealogie van Keulen-Polman

    BTW Further downstreams at Arnhem (names unknown) and over the IJssel at Zutphen ("Harry" and "Crerar" bridges) the Canadian First Army in 1945 built four post-war bridges in supplement of those already created at Emmerich. Thereby opening another important traffic artery into NE Holland and NW Germany.

    Bailey bridge.jpg
    Picture of the semi permanent bridge at Arnhem, which lay directly next to the 'John Frost bridge'. The demolished northern ramp of the latter is in the foreground. View to the south. On the opposite bank is the (at the time) new residential area of Malburgen on the horizon you see the high ground east of Nijmegen (photo courtesy: Oud-Arnhem).

    pontoon at Praets.jpg
    A pontoon bridge was constructed at the location of the old ship-bridge locally known as 'Praets'. (photo courtesy

    For some impressions on the bridges at Zutphen see: Battlefield Tour Zutphen 15 augustus 2015
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2020
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  10. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Wow - that's another impressive "semi-permanent" Bailey bridge!

    And thanks for the information regarding Spyck railway bridge - I wasn't aware that it was demolished after it was damage by ice on the river. But 1945/46 was another harsh winter - I read about that.

    According to local sources "Victory Bridge" at Spyck went into disuse on April 1st, 1946.

    Oh, by the way, this railway bridge was not a Bailey bridge ("Baileybrug") as stated on the Dutch photo above...
  11. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    I read that the semi-permanent Bailey Bridge at Arnhem was opened in February 1946 - I find it quite amazing that it wasn't given proper name like the many other bridges built across the Rhine by the Royal Engineers. It's construction is similar (or almost identical) to the one at Rees for which I started this thread. So the Arnhem one was Bailey Pile Jetty (BPJ) type double bridge.
  12. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    I need to correct myself - apparently stolpi's photo above shows the first bridge built in 1945 after the liberation. The 1946 Bailey bridge was a replacement for the destroyed civilian bridge and rested on its original piers... correct, stolpi?
  13. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    Starting with a description of the semi-permanent Bailey bridge at Rees this thread has digressed a little - it went from Rees downstream to Emmerich and Spyck and - with the help of stolpi - even to Arnhem. To wrap it up, here’s another find from my search on the web showing the railway bridge at Spyck.
    7_Sgt Sibson.jpg
    The gentleman pictured at Griethausen, just south of the railway bridge is Sergeant Harry Sibson As it turns out Harry Sibson, (1919 - 2010) was from Leicester - and a great sportsman in his younger days: a rugby player at first he then played on Leicester FC's 1st team 183 times from 1947.

    More biographical information here:
    Royal Leicestershire Regiment

    The old bridge - a pre-war civilian structure - seen behind Sgt. Sibson is still there.

    I have to admit that - although I am grew up in that region - I never visited the area around Griethausen, a village less than five kilometers north of Cleves. From there an old elevated track and this bridge over an old course of the Rhine lead to the Rhine at Spyck. It looks as if it is worth while a visit…
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  14. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    I think you are correct ;). I believe this is a picture of the later bridge (to the right) which used the old piers:

    Alberk - Important to note is that at the time there were not as much bridges across the Rhine as there are nowadays. The first crossings upstream from Nijmegen were the railway and road bridge at Wesel. The bridges at Emmerich and Rees all are post-war.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2020
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  15. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    Here's one on Okinawa


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  16. Ewen Scott

    Ewen Scott Well-Known Member

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  17. 234RE1944

    234RE1944 Member

    The first one was ready for traffic on April 1st - it was a low-level class 40 bridge and was named "Melville Bridge" (below).

    Thank you Alberk for posting the photo of the above. It has enabled me to identify where a photo of my father and mates in 234 Company, Royal Engineers was taken (Emmerich) and the name of the bridge (Melville).
    Particularly pleased as this is the first time I have used this site!
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  18. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Melville was an important bridge for the Canadians. As soon as it was completed, 2nd Cdn Corps reverted to Crerar's First Canadian Army. With 1st Cdn Corps already under Crerar's command, which had been transferred from the Italian front in Feb 45 and now was deployed opposite Arnhem, all Canadian troops in NW Europe would be united under one Canadian Command for the first time during WW2.

    See also: RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (30 Corps in operation 'Turnscrew')
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2020
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  19. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

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  20. alberk

    alberk Well-Known Member

    The man who came up with the Bailey crap...

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