One for Sapper! Royal Engineers Bridge Building

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by Drew5233, Jul 20, 2009.

  1. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Amongst the hundreds of captioned 'Life Photo's' I've come across quite a few British ones that appear to be from private collections and have 'Life' impossed over them. There is no captions so what you see is what you get.

    I think these two shots are of the same bridge?


    Can anyone add anything else?

    I wondered if it was the Rhine?
  2. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Looks like Italy to me - maybe the Po river? Although there are no high banks?
  3. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Cheers Paul.
    I don't think it is in an "Active Area" They have no helmets, and are not carrying weapons... or have them close.....

    The Bridge appears to be a Single Pontoon Baily, Its is also a "Tidal" bridge built to allow for the rise and fall of the tides. (But Not necessarily in a place with tides... Training?)

    Baileys come in Single. Single/Double or Double/Double That refers to the carriage way... What also makes me think it a training bridge? is that a bridge that long would not be a single carriageway. Because it can only be used in one direction at a time!
    Cheers mate Sapper
  4. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Maybe it's the Isle of Sheppey in Kent then not too far from Chatham :D
  5. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Out of interest, how was the tidal movement accommodated Brian?

  6. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Without going into technicalities. A pontoon tidal Bridge has to have the facility to moves and down as the tides rise and fall.

    The pontoon bridges at Pegasus canal, and river, we built, were "Tidal" All it means is the connections allow movement.

    Exactly how? I cannot recall after all this time! What I recall is that the pontoons had empty Jerry cans inside.That prevented the pontoon from sinking. Making it damn near impossible to replace.

    With the Jerry cans inside giving a little "Float" after shelling we could slide it out and put another in.

    We had the distinction of finishing off a bridge after the rest were driven to ground by the intensity of Shelling.
    Quote " 2 platoon came in and finished the Job" A bit of "one upmanship" under intense and concentrated fire.

    Huge Grin!
    Cheers Sapper
    von Poop likes this.
  7. kfz

    kfz Very Senior Member

    Does look like training. Seems very leisurely.

    What amazes me with bridges of this size is the forces involved, if the river is flowing at 3 knots for example. the forces on the anchors at the end must be amazing amplified by a lever 1/4 of mile long.

    Did you ever lose a bridge, float off?

    Are the pontoons anchor to the river bed mid stream to take the strain?

    Fantastic pic by the way shows how they made these things. Collect a peice walk to the end, walk back, get another peice, et etc The guys who who work out which big goes where, drive you mad.

  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I wonder if this is the same bridge?
  9. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    What is amazing, is the speed that these bridges can be erected while in action. Sometimes under heavy fire.
    Sometimes being built on land and towed into place by a tank or similar. They have to build it much longer, so that the balance is maintained as the bridge is pushed into place
    There is a really wonderful bit of sapper bridging under fire. It was the saga of the Kattenturn Bridge. It is a really wonderful story.
  10. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

  11. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    The first clip at 3.40 reminded me of the scene from 'The Bridge too Far' where they are pushing the bridge.
  12. DoctorD

    DoctorD WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I don't think Drew's moonlit bridge is the same - the pontoons are much narrower. Much like the first single carraigeway affair across the R Meuse that I drove across a few times. Strange sensation when the wheels dipped when passing over the gap between the pontoons, like riding a bucking broncho. I agree this as being a training exercise, as they seem to be building it from both banks! Got to admire the guys who built and maintained them under fire!
  13. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Here's another Bridge shot, again with no caption.

    I'd guess this was Holland - OMG perhaps? Not sure of the Armour crossing but that defo looks like a Onan Genie on the left of shot !
  14. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    All that hard work! Never had any of that...All we built were assault bridges, Light single track and Kapok float assault gear. With canvas assault boats (they weigh a ton!)
    We built Baileys at times but most were assault stuff...
    These are bridges built by the "Follow up" sappers. Who replace the assault bridge with a "main" permanent one. By that time we were miles ahead. Gone....
    Wonderful to see these pictures.

    When I try to find the sites where we did an assault crossing... I tried to find it on Google Earth....Everything is changed. One site on the Escaut canal where we did a night time assault against fierce opposition... (Horrible) That crossing bank is now covered with trees...
  15. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Shook me rigid! Real Nostalgia.
    Go to Google print Petite .....Petite Brogel Escaut canal...ther you will find Lincs Battalion. It describes everything I recall about that night.....
    Too realistically for me mates!
  16. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    The last two shots I have on my PC, again with no caption. Looks like a bridge come ferry come bridge:


    I'm wondering if this is a exercise as there appears to be umpire's on the river bank on the first shot.
  17. Noel Burgess

    Noel Burgess Senior Member

    Post No 16 is a "Tracked Raft" I haven't got any info on it's capacity but I think it was limited to a carrier or 15Cwt truck - so about Clas 5 or6. Apparently these rafts could be assembled in about 10 Minutes.
    I agree that it looks life an training/excersise.
  18. Noel Burgess

    Noel Burgess Senior Member

    I have a copy of the photo at post 13 in a book entitled "D-Day to Victory - photographs by the DailyMail" the caption reads Tanks & Guns cross a canal bridge built by British Engineers as the Allies push into Holland
    I wonder if the "Generator" is in fact a propulsion unit [with flexible drive shaft] or perhaps a pump.
    Cheers, Noel
  19. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    That is the actual bridge over a part of the Escaut Canal at Petite Brogel. But staged later !
  20. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Found this in Faces of WW2.

    Caption reads: Royal Engineers lay a Bailey Bridge across the River Orne.


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