New Zealand Engineers, Middle East
Local bridging method
Local bridging method
2. 2 New Zealand Division developed their own methods for providing assault tank crossings of R Senio, Santerno and Sillaro—narrow beds with high floodbanks—which they used almost exclusively instead of relying on the Ark as did other divisions. 8 Indian Division also used this method on several occasions.page 735
3. 2 New Zealand Division's methods relied on securing the near floodbank at dusk, the far bank being carried by infantry assault after dark. As soon as the latter operation was accomplished all material for the crossing which had been dumped under the near bank was carried over the levee by hand. The bridge itself was a 50-ft SS Bailey, spanning the water gap a few feet above water level. It was erected as separate single girders on an FBE raft, the end panels having their bottom pins out. When complete the girders were lifted bodily to the horizontal by man power and the bottom pins inserted. Transoms were then positioned and the bridge decked down. This bridge when over 40 ft long was only class 30, but was sufficient for the Sherman tanks with which the New Zealand Armoured Brigade was equipped.
4. 2 New Zealand Division claimed that their method (35 minutes to one hour) was as quick if not quicker than using Arks since, while the bridge was being built, the blowing or dozing of the near bank was in progress and could be continued right up to the complete bridge. The first vehicle across was an unarmoured dozer to prepare the exit on the far bank.
5. By working almost in the river bed when the water level was low, the sappers were well protected by the high floodbanks and suffered very few casualties, but the same could not be said of the infantry covering parties exposed on the top of the far levee.
6. 8 Indian Division copied 2 New Zealand Division's method, but since they were to be supported by Churchill tanks, construction had to be DS to give the necessary class 40 classification. Furthermore, in order to cut down dozing on the higher flood-banks on their sector, the bridge was built some 8 ft above water using either an FBE trestle or a crib pier on the FBE raft. The resultant bridge was therefore 60 ft to 70 ft long and, being DS, took considerably longer to construct.