In West Germany, British Royal Engineers bridged the River Rhine in record time last Sunday (17 June).
In West Germany, British Royal Engineers bridged the River Rhine in record time last Sunday (17 June). It was a weekend military exercise to test their capabilities under operational conditions and they spanned a quarter-kilometre (275 yard) stretch in a record forty-seven minutes. Crossings of the River Rhine featured strongly in World War Two battles in Germany, and the liberation of Europe. But the equipment was a far cry from today's German-built amphibious machinery, expertly handled in this bridging.
SYNOPSIS: Nearly six hundred men of Britain's crack 28 Amphibious Engineer Regiment, the Royal Engineers, took part in the bank-to-bank bridging operation.
Twenty-one amphibious rigs were driven into the Rhine, then floated into position to form a line across the waterway, near Speyer, West Germany.
Each crew, knowing exactly which position it held in the bridge, manoeuvred its rig into position, side ramps opening to link up with neighbouring rigs, three abreast.
This highly experienced NATO river-crossing unit practised repeatedly in the fast-moving Rhine waters to get it perfect. Barges from Holland and other countries, which help make the Rhine one of the busiest international waterways in the world, were stopped as the final rigs moved into position.
The four-man crews, including the pilot, each had tasks to perform before the rigs were finally locked into place. The two-engine craft held their position against the flow of the Rhine, by engine thrust.
First to cross the completed bridge by Land-rover, was the regiment's commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Mark Coe. It was the last bridge-building exercise for him before completing his tour of duty, and he was ceremoniously tossed into the Rhine, in the traditional custom.