Non-Bailey Bridging in Canadian Service
by John Sliz.
Canada’s Weapons of War Series, WOW029
A5 size softback, 24 pages
Review by Peter Brown
“Streams, rivers, canals, dry ditches and ravines form obstacles to the movement of armies. While existing bridges can be used, they often have to be able to cross where none are available or they have been damaged or destroyed by the enemy. Having the equipment to be able to put a suitable bridge when and where needed is one of the military arts which has to be backed up by science. Military bridges have to be easy and quick to construct in less than ideal conditions, and they have to be capable of handling different loads which meant they had to be strengthened or replaced with new types as heavier trucks and tanks came into use. Several different designs have come and gone over the years, this new book deals with many of those used during the Second World War.
The smallest type of bridge allows men on foot to move across. Of these, the Kapok Assault Bridge was a simple design using floats to support wooden trackways suitable for single-file traffic. It was light enough to be moved easily and often used during an attack. A new design was produced in Italy by a Captain Olafson using metal pipes to produce a light and sturdy bridge more suitable for the build-up of troops after an attack which could take light vehicles such as jeeps as well as troops.
For heavier traffic there were several types in use. Among the better older designs was the Large Box Girder which as its name suggests used box-section girders to form the basis of a bridge which could take 18-ton loads. A later version with more girders could handle 24 tons. Good though this was at the time it was later superseded by the Bailey Bridge. A lighter system known as the Small Box Girder was also strengthened then outclassed, but had a brief new lease of life when parts of the design were adapted as an assault bridge launched by Churchill AVRE tanks. The best of the older types was the Inglis Bridge used during the Great War, this was improved and strengthened to take heavier tanks but in the end was not to see action.
Systems using simple boats or pontoons are versatile as they could be used as bridges or to create rafts to ferry items either for speed or to relieve traffic on other bridges. Most widely used of these were the Folding Boat Equipment for lighter loads and the Mk V Pontoon Bridge for heavier traffic.
All these types are covered from a Canadian viewpoint, although as most were British designs much of the coverage is relevant to British use. The text gives details of what types were used and where including accounts of them in action. It is backed up by a selections of black and white photos showing them being built and in use. Line drawings of the main types form the centre spread. This book is useful as it sheds light on an important but not widely documented subject, those wanting to model bridges or just identify them will find it a handy guide.
Thanks to Clive Law at Service Publications for the review book.”