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Bridges & Equipment of an Engineering Regiment

JackD

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hi! I'm curious - what are the bridge holdings within the CER's and what bridge training is done these days? Do you still use and train on the MGB, or the Air Portable Bridge/ferry, that infantry foot bridge (passed on to the pioneers I believe in 1978), the Light Floating Bridge/ferry... that ribbon bridge that came in as I was leaving....the beloved but also cursed Bailey? In the regimental set-ups I see mentioned here, river crossing tasks seem to be ignored. By the way..While I presume the "Elsie antiper/antiveh" mine is gone - although an ingenious device - what antitank mine is used these days - the ancient m15?
 

McG

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Medium Floating Bridge/Medium Raft: http://www.army.forces.gc.ca/Land_Force/English/2_0_11.asp?uSubSection=11&uSection=3
Medium Girder Bridge:  http://www.army.forces.gc.ca/Land_Force/English/2_0_10.asp?uSubSection=10&uSection=3
ACRROW: This is like next generation Bailey with much larger & heavier panels.

Typically, none of these are held as part of the regiment.  Instead they belong to the Engineer Equipment Troops (EET, like the old DMER pool but with one in each LF area).  That being said, with the exception of 1 CER, each regiment is co-located with its area's EET.
 

392

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JackD said:
By the way..While I presume the "Elsie antiper/antiveh" mine is gone - although an ingenious device - what antitank mine is used these days - the ancient m15?

Mostly the DM21 and FFV 028 - although Canada technically does not actually have any stockpiles of the FFV 028.
 

JackD

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Thanks for the info! You know, that MGB was something of a back-killer. I actually preferred to deal with the old Bailey. I often wondered if it were possible to make the carrying handles more ergonometrically comfortable - by putting a bend in that straight tube so that when the blasted thing is in its holder, it is straight - the lift is even across both arms - I hope you understand what I'm getting at. I'm 48 and yes... back damage and knee damage. Can any other ex- or serving sappers think of useful modifications to equipment?  By the way there was something called the "heavy girder bridge" I believed developed for the "conqueror" tank - it was a sort of heavy Bailey - for class 60 loads.  There used to be pieces of it laying about in Chilliwack (behind the minewarfare building). I wonder if that is the origin of the Acrow panel design. I find it also interesting that 1 CER still has no bridge holdings - we used to use CFSME's bridges - Since CFSME is in err... Gagetown or Borden (?), I wonder if this absence is a legacy of history.
  As for mines... again thanks for the info... so the m15 is gone from the system... I'm surprised that it wasn't replaced by the "bar mine" - a much more appropriate design for mechanical laying and digging-in
 

JackD

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oh - I apologise. I should have written that I am surprised that 1 CER is not co-located with the land-area's bridge holdings - so where are those located?
  On the TQ5 course, does a corporal-to-be still learn to be a bridge commander? The course I had, I believe, was the last of the 'long' courses (1980) - great course - both staff and members.
It seems to me too that it is short-sighted not to learn how to build the old Bailey (as a squadron task we even did a triple-triple (1979) and learned triple-double on the 5's course). Now I'm not being old-fashioned here - but the old Bailey is a line of communication bridge - most suitable for "peace-making" - "national reconstruction" and as such, is something a sapper should have the expertise to build.
  Perhaps a suitable and relatively cheap standardised  bridge (or group of bridges) could be designed in-house (class 6, and class 15 maybe or class 20?)- something that can be left behind as the CF leaves one task and goes onto another. What say you on this board and what specifications would you suggest?
 

Spr.Earl

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Jack I remember when the 3 x 3 was built at the dry gap.
I was in the Wack with 6Fd the weekend after it was completed and a bunch of us got stinko in the Mess which was the norm in those day's and made a sign "Constructed by 6Fd. Sqn." and stuck on the home side of bridge end post and Stone went ape when he saw it. ;D
 

JackD

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So that's what happened! That was an interesting build... all hand of course - there was one problem though which was found once it was launched (as a triple -single) as it had to be taken back and relaunched - those American panels - one got mixed up and of course they are not compatable - and this was found when the second story was being built. It was a three troop build by the way, which leads me to wonder why there is a 2 troop sqn but 3 sqn regiment in this new regimental configuration. In this set-up there would be more officers but fewer people humping panels or what ever... mechanization is good, but the human can still go places a machine can't and isn't that the purpose of sappers, to add tactical surprise by making the seemingly impossible - possible?
By the way.. what equipment modifications can you think of that could be useful for the job - and maintain the health of the sapper - especially when he's long retired. Do your knees and back act as excellent weather predictors? Oh and completely off topic Earl, thanks for your e-mail message!
 

Spr.Earl

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Oh you remember the sign do you?   ;D

One I right off the top off my head is;
If guy's with a medical and years in wish to stay in let them stay in,as long as they are not shit pump's.Use them in their trade as they are cornucopia's of knowledge and are a bonus just because of that experience which takes years to learn and they can pass it on especially to young Officers. ;) ;D

Look after them and don't treat them like shit as has happened and still happening and one or two come to mind, p.m me and I'll tell you their name's,both F.E.'s.

The trouble is we are only a number in the Green Machine.
 

JackD

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Hi! Yes certainly a green machine - the waste of talent used to cause me to shake my head - I couldn't stand MCE you know - complete different mind-set and I wanted to re-muster to structure's technician - after-all I had done that basically in Cyprus, and in Egypt and in Alert. I figured I'd go back to the regiments - and they'd keep someone with survey skills, with 5 ton qualification, sapper skills, EOD skills.. but no..the powers-that-be refused - said they'd prefer to take someone off the street - as to back and joints - 3 years of physical therapy in the army. Four years ago I got some x-rays done here - the analysis being "What happened to you?" I put in a pension claim and discovered... there are a lot of documents missing from my files..funny that. By the way, I left when a gentleman ordered me into his office and throw a piece of paper across his desk at me. The paper offered me an immediate promotion to sargeant as long as I withdrew a harassment charge placed on my behalf by NDMC. I looked at the guy "Are you trying to bribe me?" "Read it -sign it". I tore it up and walked out. The man made a mockery of the time I spent in the army, and of my colleagues who died in the service. That is the NDHQ mind-set.
 

Spr.Earl

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Exactly Jack,look what happened to Harry Mugford!
That was a crime what happened to him!!
One Man who loved the Corp and a one of the best Sappers I have met in my 29 yrs in. :salute:
 

geo

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Though greatly mourned, Baileys are no more.
Excluding the occasional Stage or Dais for ceremonial occasions, FE units aren't permitted to use the Bailey no more.
Sadly; Bailey panels & girders are being used as Demolition training aids.... My last unit kept a few sections handy - strictly for teambuilding purposes... best training aid IMHO
The Acrow bridge parts that have gone out as replacements are just so damn big and heavy that they aren't convenient for use in the same task. While you can build an Arcow by hand.... no one  really wants to.

MGB - next best thing to the Bailey for teambuilding IMHO

Medium raft - great activity for a day at the beach :)

NSB... well it goes without saying that this will be around for a long time to come - given that you build out of the resources that you have "in hand"
 

JackD

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You know... thinking about it, as you say the Bailey is very useful for building team spirit - why not try to keep enough around for engineer day competitions.... work out a set of rules for the competition and keep it around for that - that way training is done, morale improves and so on.... By the way is there some Bailey in this War museum in Ottawa? There should be! if there isn't - shouldn't the Engineer associations petition the powers-that-be to have that done - it was as much a war winner as anything else - Can any-one track down other types of bridges used by the Canada - even photographs for this museum to use.
 

geo

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Bailey in Ottawa war museum - yup.
other types - didn't see, but entirely possible.
I know that each CER regiment has it's own "personal" collection on display - haven't seen museum in CFSME in Gagetown - would imagine that only some momentoes were shipped east from Chilliwack. 1 CER should have control of the balance (? not sure)

One of the problems with keeping the Baileys in use - even if only for teamwork training has to do with the fact that a lot of the pins and parts were pressganged into service with the Acrow. It would be very difficult to start mixing & shuffling parts back and forth over a long period of time....

would if I could..... but I can't, so I won't

 

SprCForr

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1 EET took control of the remaining EWBB stock in Western Canada when it stood up in '99. Supply here in Wainwright was going to dispose of the holdings until I got word to Rick Huggatt when he was with LFWA A Engr shop. He got it back (for historical purposes) and put it on 1 EET's holdings. It has since been sent out to places like 44 FES and the Trans Canada trail projects as well as various monuments. Anything that was compatible with the Accrow set was made part of that checklist. As for different examples, take a look outside of 1 CER, if I remember correctly the tank is sitting on a T5 (or is it the dozer?). The main gate to CFB Chilliwack is still there isn't it? The flag pole was part of the tower set, is it still around? Jack, bridging competitions (if any) are using the MGB.

On a personal note - I don't miss that thing at all. Let's pull off the rose coloured glasses here troops! Has everyone forgot about booting through the panel while pushing the transoms through at 0 dark stupid? Building almost as much damn nose as main bridge? How about digging down 5 and packing up 6? Hand loading the Bridge train with all them damn panels? My aching back would sooner forget that bas*tard!  ;D

Watching Billy Talbot hammer pins out was pretty cool though.  ;)
 

JackD

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HI - the other thing i remember to have to watch out for was "pin knee" - "Pin-out!" -Whack -"ugh!" The thing i liked about the Bailey was I could keep my back straight, the MGB if I remember correctly, my back was always bent and then there was the overhead placement when doing class 60. There was also the one problem of placing the deck pieces - if your partner was afraid of heights - he pulled it all towards him, so naturally, you had to pull back. Perhaps members of this forum could suggest product improvements - on many aspects of sapper equipment? On the old 5's course (pre- fall, 1980), the course would jump out of the truck, line up and the bridge instructor would say "you - you are the bridge commander - do it"  I still think that was an effective way to have a course - is that the way it's done now? In view of the amount of Bailey out there - through-out the world, I still think it should be taught - maybe specifically to the militia regiments in view of their "aid to civil power" taskings (?) and their greater connection to the civilian world - hence my suggestion for a competition.
 

JackD

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By the way, weren't all the pins date stamped? I live in Poland - far away, but for  2 decades I kept a pin - from my first build and I seem to remember there was a date stamp on the head. As for bridges - yes the t5 in Chilliwack. It had a Centurion  20 pounder on it - Sgt. Ralph Leaman was the chap who put together that monument. I believe the idea behind that bridge was as rapid reinforcement of short bridges (and weak culverts) to enable crossing by heavy vehicles - the idea had merit - I'm sure an up-date of the idea would have been useful in SE Europe. Another bridge I remember was the airportable bridge - which eventually went to 2 CER if I recall correctly and was darned heavy after use as it filled with water - that is until it was shot full of foam. There was also that foot bridge which I think was given lock, stock and barrel to the pioneers. An ancient bridge was the Ross bridge used in WW1, I wonder if some pieces of that are lying around somewhere in Ontario? oh, another by the way - does any-one do improvised bridging? Again on that 5's course we had to put together a raft out of oil drums and wood and rope -suitable for a jeep if I recollect correctly.
Rick Huggatt? Now there was a great section commander - say hello for me if you run into him!
 

geo

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Jack,
A lot of arguments were raised by the Reserve units to retain the Bailey.
Along with "Aid to the civil power" those units are vehicle / resource poor and don't have the luxury of having cranes and the like to adequately look after the Acrow. They used every argument in the book - to no avail. At this point, the panels are all due for stress tests & certification - which hasn't been done for at least 5 years AND some parts have been transfered to the Acrow kit list.
Units have been ordered not to touch the Bailey. Several municipalities with existing Baileys have asked for support to maintain Baileys that were put up by the units - have been told by the Gods above NOT to touch em. If individuals are willing to get hired by the Organisations that's their concern BUT they are "on their own".

With respect to pinning out.... the Acrow has a couple of pins located in places where it's more "pinging out".... watched a couple of fellas who were on their 1st Acrow take down. Out came the hammer and it took em about three tries before they investigated the stubborn ping.

 

Spr.Earl

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The argument for the Militia to keep the Bailey was a sound idea especially here on the West Coast but as others have pointed out we did not have and still don't have the transport or equipment to move or unload it,never mind our own Troops and kit but in a real crisis I think the Civil Powers would come into play and would provide the necessary equipmet with operators.It's a little known fact that any Unit in aid of a Civil Power can in a Emergency with approval can request or sequester any kit they need from any source to aid in the assitance.

Yes it was a ball buster to build but outside of the MGB it's the only other bridge that can be built by hand with any substantial load class that can be used be civilians.
Acro you need a crane,it takes longer to build,I have only built it once by hand and we all suffered,Golden Ears Prov.Park out in Coquitlam in the early 80's.


Back in 75 6 Fd put in a triple single Bailey here in N.Van for the local City and it stayed inplace for a good 5yrs but it's load class was dropped because the neighbours complained about the noise from the decking so they laid convayor belting down also the City Engieer had all the pins tacked in place.After they did that DND shook off all responsibilty due to the changes the City made,in the end they even paved it!
The Granthem Street Bridge.
 

JackD

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HI! So I see it's still the same - the powers-that-be still miss the big picture and still not listen. Engineering units - especially militia ones I think are the "key" to generating good will in the civilian world and of course if the outside world see a use for the military then money will come into the military... Yet obviously the units see this, perhaps the regions see this but those in the "Puzzle Palace" as a Brit exchange officer put it, do not see it. I wonder, why not by-pass them all and speak directly to the CDS? It seems he's a rational fellow - if he sees it's good for the army - I think he'd change this policy.
 

geo

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Being one that currently resides in one of the lower "puzzle palaces" I could tell you that you are preaching to the convinced. Most all engineers @ the area level feel that we have lost a good deal of our bridging expertise - something that we feel is "wrong". Most CERs don't spend much time doing bridging anymore; not by choice but by the variety of the tasks coming down the pipe from above. Having lost their Pioneers; guess who the Infantry call upon for their little projects?
Most reserve Units would be happy to dedicate some of their capability to the Bridging task - but to date; resources have still not been made available. The adoption of the Acrow has made it that much more difficult. Bigger pieces, heavier parts; it's not impossible to build an Arcow by hand.... it's just making it difficult for no good reason (IMHO).
 
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