ARM: Book Review - The Bailey Bridge in Canadian Service

Book Review: =93Weapons of War=94 Series; The Bailey Bridge in Canadian Ser= vice by John Sliz; Service Publications, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, 2012; 24 = pp. with B&W photos and not-to-scale diagrams and sketches; price CDN $9.95= ; ISBN 978-1-894581-77-6

formatting link
Advantages: concise history not only of Canadian use of the Bailey Bridge b= ut of the bridge itself; describes its structure and use, as well as RCE br= idging organization

Disadvantages: nothing of note

Rating: Highly Recommended

Recommendation: for bridging fans and =93picks and shovels=94 everywhere

When I went through the 5th (US) Army NCO Academy in 1975, we had to give = a presentation with visual aids as part of the course of instruction. One o= f the chaps in my class was a 12 series MOS, or combat engineer. He came in= for his show with a 1/10 scale model of a Bailey Bridge which was used to = instruct American combat engineers in its assembly. He showed us how (we ha= d to put it together under his instruction) to assemble a single bay of the= bridge using the four main components - panels, transoms, stringers and de= ck planks. He got full points for the presentation.=20

From that time on I have been fascinated with the simplicity and sturdy re= sults of the Bailey, and even noted it was used here in Maryland as recentl= y as five years ago as a temporary structure on the Baltimore-Washington Pa= rkway by the National Parks Service. Now John Sliz has followed up his earl= ier Service Publication book, =93Non-Bailey Bridging in Canadian Service=94= (2010), with this little volume dedicated solely to the Bailey Bridge and = its use in Canadian service.=20

While the US and UK had a number of bridges that were assembled from compo= nents to form a useful bridge, most were awkward or expensive and not suita= ble to rapid assembly in the field. A British engineer named Donald Bailey = took the current designs, simplified and streamlined the concepts, and came= up with a bridge that could be assembled in relatively short order by smal= l teams of engineers. As the war had begun, the War Office was frantically = seeking an answer and in December 1940 began detailed design work on the br= idge. A prototype was ready by May 1941, but the bridging components did no= t enter production until early 1942 and the first bridging sets did not rea= ch the engineers in the field until December 1942.=20

As mentioned above, the bridge consisted of four basic parts: a panel made= of braced steel, 10 feet long and weighing 570 pounds, which formed the lo= ngitudinal component. Transoms 17 feet long attached to the inside bottom o= f the panels, and the stringers connected the transoms together to form a s= olid unit. The deck planks were then attached to the top of the stringers. = The result created a solid bridge with a 12 foot wide roadway and room for = a catwalk on one of the outer sides.=20

As the basic bridge had its limitations, the design was brilliant in that = the number of panels could be increased by mounting them side by side (up t= o three) and one on top of the other (again up to three). The basic bridge = of one panel wide and one high was called a =93Single Single=94 or SS by th= e engineers; double width single high a double single or DS, triple TS, and= then double double, triple double, double triple, and triple triple. Singl= e doubles and single triples were not structurally sound and not used. Most= of the time the bridges used pilings or bridgeheads, but they could be use= d on pontoons using a specially developed Bailey pontoon.=20

Canada was tasked to built 150 sets of Bailey bridging in 1941. Due to pro= blems with steel production it took more time than expected, so US Bailey b= ridging sets were accepted for use in training. A set was 80 feet of bridgi= ng and was seen to by a field engineer company with each division. However,= this was considered a combat reserve and corps or higher level assets were= used where possible.=20

Combat service saw the first Canadian built bridge used in Sicily in 1943.= Due to intensive bombing and damage the sum product of all Allied engineer= s in Italy was more than 45 miles of Bailey bridges built over the course o= f the campaign. Many of the bridges had to be built under fire and it speak= s to the valor of not just the Canadians but all combat engineers that they= succeeded.=20

The author notes one of the best examples available to most of the audienc= e is the scene in the movie =93A Bridge Too Far=94 where Elliott Gould and = his 101st Airborne soldiers work with Commonwealth engineers to build a bri= dge after the Germans blow one of the critical ones needed by XXX Corps.=20

A diagram is included in the center of the book showing how a double singl= e bridge is built and installed. This should be a boon to anyone with the B= ronco kit of a Bailey Bridge.=20

Overall this is a very neat little volume and should be popular with both = military historians and modelers.=20

Thanks to Clive Law of Service Publications for the review copy.=20

Cookie Sewell

Reply to
Loading thread data ...

PolyTech Forum website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.