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Bridges & Equipment of an Engineering Regiment

JackD

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Hi! Actually - I was thinking of making that comment - that instead of the sappers absorbing the engineers it seems the engineers were absorbed - but in name - by the pioneers. This begs the question -"What is the role of a field engineer?". During the mid 70's and early 80's when I was a sapper, it seemed the brigade commander (at least in the west) didn't really know. But then, training was at most battalion level, never brigade level (one battalion was defending. two were attacking - IF one wasn't in Cyprus at the time). The RV exercises I guess were supposed to push training up to brigade level. In essence I don't think the engineer roles were really practiced. In Wainright or Shilo or where-ever, roads are already in place, bridging - where do you need it? Field fortification when was it practiced? In this regard the Bosnia taskings were good - The generals woke up to belatedly realize how useful sappers were.
 

geo

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Jack,
Only beef you'll find in most brigades is that where they busted up three Pioneer platoons - they didn't add any new FE Troops.... Aye - there's the rub. However, given that we do not deploy full brigades, it'a possible to cobble together force building blocks from brigade assets... it's not pretty - but it works.

You should see how the Taskforce commander brighten upon learning that Field Squadrons were included in our TFK deployments.... Won't say that our sappers are overworked but, will say that they're cups are pretty full AND the ground pounders appreceate/respect our capabilities more than they ever have
...
If you ever get a chance to look at pictures of Camp Julien & camp Warehouse; you will find facilities that are second to none - thanks to you friendly neighborhood Canadian field engineers. When Canada reduced it's committment to TFK, a number of countries gladly accepted becoming our tenants..... Understand that they are now going to dismantle it - use it to construct our new facilities in the Kandahar area.
 

Spr.Earl

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geo re the Pioneers;I know of the complaints from our side that we have become so called glorified Pioneers and those with time in are not happy about the fact and think the the Inf. Reg. should bring back their Pioneer Platoons.
Higher screwed up on that one!

Also re yours "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)."

Like I said here on the coast we have only 6 Fd and were I live in N.Van.,I have 7 bridges with in a 30 min walk from my apt..Come a earth quake some or all are gone and they cut off the North Shore from East to West right out to Horseshoe Bay where the Ferry Terminal is for the Island which is part of the Trans Canada Highway!
We need at least 4 triple single of Bailey's worth,the City would even stock them and work with 6Fd..  It's easy to train some one how to lift a panel,all's we need is good Recce and Bridge Commanders and crew.
If it happens how logn will it take 1CER to get out here with all their kit;3,4 days? Not likely!
MGB is useless as a Civie bridge,we should bring back Bailey even as a 2nd 3rd ech. bridge.
 

JackD

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Hi Earl! As you say this is a wasted opportunity for the armed forces when organizations WANT to cooperate. If cooperation occurs on a continuous basis, I'm sure the public will want greater investment in the armed forces - in other words we are not faceless shadows on the fringe of Canadian society, we are useful components of it. Since the Bailey is available -old as it is (interesting that the forestry and highways people don't seem to have problems keeping them in good condition), we should keep up our collective skills on such kit - hence the idea of a competition - as the need is for bridge commanders and assistants - whose duties  cannot just be realized instantaneously - by merely reading a book. Aid to civil power I think is an ideal task for reserve engineer regiments/ squadrons - and it is a transformable task for war footing - maintenance of line of communication. The MGB is a poor choice of bridge for that isn't it - especially in its class 60 format. I've never seen a bridging truck -the old 5 ton gassers of my era - driven on to it for fear I guess, of hang-up. I don't think a lot of our wheeled vehicles can be driven over it. Has anyone tried? Lowbeds can't be driven over, tractor-trailer combinations are doubtful too.
  By the way, has assault bridging ever been part of brigade or inter-brigade/ battle-group exercises? I can remember this being practiced once - in 1975 in Valcartier using the light floating ferry and airportable ferry. but i never saw something like this done with the MGB - I guess we were afraid to damage it...
 

SprCForr

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Jack, you had left the Regt when we started using it during RV's and Waincons. Assault water crossings were the current flavour for a while. It would go something like, multiple inf crossings with boats, then slam a bridge across to reinforce/expand the bridgehead. I think it had pretty much ended with RV92. And yes, it got damaged and we still brought it back the next year. The school would bark and complain but they were only entitiled to 1 1/2 sets, leaving the DMER set available for 1 CER to take to Wainwright.
 

JackD

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Hi! great news that - I found it frustrating to just build a bridge only to tear it down - a lot of effort for nothing if you know what I mean. There was one build I remember  (1979 bridge gallop) that was done as a bet between two officers - up the embankment behind the old sewage treatment plant if I remember correctly - the angle was quite acute and the stresses were such that one component snapped. I also broke my ankle having turned it on the cobbles - didn't drop my end though - and all because of a bet...lots of people used to get injured on those builds - eventually I spent almost three years as an out patient at NDMC having a lot of physio-therapy thanks to those bridges. But to actually see somebody going over these things - now that does add some satisfaction - the satisfaction of doing one's job. What bridge designs out in the world would you think be useful for the military engineer trade? Near the Vistula River (I live in Poland) by the way, is a bridge set of mammoth proportions - used for replacing the railroad bridges ( - a prime target if the cold war went hot) . I have not seen it used but I have seen people oiling the pin-holes... and sadly I have no photos.
 

geo

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In LFQA
04Milcon, we had the MR out as part of the exercise - That ex was based on warfighting in the traditional sense
05Milcon, we are working (as I speak) on a 3 Block war - IFOR/SFOR scenario - they`re working on an NSB construction (3FER,9&10FES & 5CER) it`s hard work & the boyz are having fun
 

Spr.Earl

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Late 80's in Yakima;the U.S. Engineer Battalion for the whole of the North Western U.S. had a Ex..
They had everything from MR,Road Building Unit with rock crushers etc.
We Mo's were attached to each Unit,I was attached to the MR Company and was only interested in their boats man they were good but also learned how to build a floating bridge and class 60 raft.

The day before the Ex. one of our Sgt's was a designated Raft Commander,oh my he got sick ::)
The day of the Ex I was assigend the job,I had 8 hrs to build and work with the Ham Shank's and we got all in order.

The night of the Ex. we had our class 60 built in 25 min's and waiting off the beach until the other raft was finished,something was wrong on their side,we waited for close on 30 min.'s
I lost and just said "get them the F'k out we are coming in"
We worked all night transporting all kinds of engineer kit i.e. low beds with dozer's,graders etc.

Oh heres a gooder as you all know "NO ONE GETS IN THE BOATS" all troops sit on the curb's.
Well I See the bugger start to climb into one of the boats I let a big yell " HEY YOU BACK ON THE CURB you F'n so & so"!!!!

It turned out later after a few beers at the smoker,the G.I. who tried too get into the boat was a 3 star general and we had a good chat it ended up him stating "I wish our Reserves could be good as your's" you do so much with so little.
 

JackD

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hi Erl! Quite a difference to using those old evinrude outboard motors - inevitably only one engine out of 4 would be working when out on the Fraser... by 5 Am... when out rafting...
 

Spr.Earl

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Jack, never mind the motors,those F'n steering frames,they never swung smoothly and if you weren't strong or tall enough you had trouble steering.I remember we had two little short arse's on one motor one year at Cultus god it was funny watching them trying to steer and watch for maneuver commands from the raft commander.  :eek: ::) ;D

I hated decking the bugger,as I'm 6'2" and alway's ended on the water side were you needed the hight and strength to pull them across and place them,my back just twinged with that memory :crybaby:

But when the MR came along it was a gift from the Big Engineer God in the Sky. :salute:
 

JackD

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Ha! I'm short and I always got that job - I also remember jumping up and down  to break the pontoons on the Fraser at god knows what time in the morning, during the spring bridge drive - the thing would tilt, someone would grab me and haul me on to the next. Frankly, later in life I started to wonder what would really have happened if that chap had not caught me - no safety boats, no life jacket and I can't swim - just do the job. You know, thinking back - it always seemed to rain on those bridge camps. 3-4 weeks of being soaking wet. Does the army have an effective rain suit yet?
By the way I had one accident in 1977 where a loaded MGB trailer swung in on me - the bridge site was so restricted that in order turn the trucks, the trailers had to be unhooked - the crane would take the load, and someone (this idiot) would crouch between truck and trailer and kick the ring out of the pintle - You guest it, eventually the clutch on the ancient crane slipped at a most inconvenient time,  the load swung in and the old noggin got bashed - you do see stars by the way - and worse, the back bone took a hit. I came-to actually when the troop was looking for me - and someone needed to take a leak in the bushes and it didn't sound like he was peeing on dirt... I never did go to the MIR... no record, no pension claim... remember that -  get everything in writing... It was quite common to see fellows with legs and arms  and hands in casts after those exercises - do you remember that Earl?
 

geo

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sure the rainsuits work.... you sweat your Ba# off inside...... but as long as you keep working the sweat/moisture is warm ;)

MGB kit is now all palletized and carried on the back of our HLVW 10 tons.
truck pull up, backs in, tilts it's bed and drops off it's pallet. So long as the trucks deliver in the order they're supposed to - it's a great system
 

SprCForr

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MGB was always palletized. You just needed a crane to lift them off the 5 ton and the MGB trailers. And yes, even back in the day you still had to check to make sure the Bridge Train sent up the right load.  ;)
 

JackD

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incidentally I noticed a comment on the global security site - under Canada ( CASR) and in comments (A CF m1A1) - that Australia has purchased  10 American bridge systems - the Combat Support Modular Bridge System - 1:) Has any-one seen that?  2: In the interest of NATO commonality shouldn't Canada have the same - or some system that will support the weights of this M1 and the Challanger and the Leopard 2. If the new doctrine is inter-operability we should have to support class 70 vehicles... or is this doctrine of niche force and (close) interoperability a disguise to save money. . .

In the 70's and early 80's the bridging trucks were the old 5 ton gasser flatbeds - There was once a study I believe to put diesel engines in them. They were rather awkward things to maneuver around. Beside the engine being a gasser,  an interesting diference to the regular 5 ton was that the batteries were under the seat. For awhile I had the keys to the compound they were in and after a base vehicle inpection I  warned by regiment's chief mechanic that I was going to be charged for stealing the batteries. Well I was a bit perplexed to say the least - and irritated that my own bosses were going to hang me out to dry - sure enough, when I looked the batteries were there - I of course boosted and started each truck up, phoned the regiiment's chief mechanic - he had a look  - smacked his head "Of course - under the seat!". He then phoned the base military police told them about it - the head man came, had a look - saw that the batteries hadn't been suddenly replaced - and then we all waited for my accusers to come by. "So you are accusing this man of stealing all the batteries?' "Yes - there are no batteries in the racks - he had the keys, he must have stolen them" "That's when the regiment's chief mechanic started them up" "Umm you know 5 ton gassers are a little different..We won't say anything - after you apologise to this man - but you know... our wrecker needs new tires" "And so does our patrol cars" - at the end of it all - many people were happy.
 

geo

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HLVW 10 ton Pallet system we currently use to hump around the MR, MGB & the ACROW is a thing of beauty. This is one truck the Army types in procurement got right - 1st time round.
Old 5 tonners - multifuelers & gassers - yup remember them well - many a service battalion still have a 5 ton wrecker "keepsake" parked on their front lawn.
 

Spr.Earl

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I for one liked our old 5 T multifuelers,the only major prob we had with them was the rear axle seals going( F'n paper) other than that they took a beating and kept on tick'n,as for the Gassers;on my 5 t course we had to learn how to drive the gassers first before we were allowed to touch a diesel reason being shifting in the gassers was a nightmare compared to the diesels ,old Larry Macelrevy sure bought a few beers and Big Bird,Bubbles,Rodman,Fleet etc. sure enjoyed the beer they got from our grinding a few pounds of trany every day. ;D

Here's one for you.
6 Fd got the task of blowing the old bomb bunkers out at Boundary Bay Airport as it was a bomber training base during the War and was being reopned for small aircraft from Van.Int. Airport.

Well we had a 5 T Dump gasser and I was driving it towing one of those big old air compressers we had,while crossing Knight St bridge doing a good clip on the down slope the hood flew open and cracked both windows on the cab,what scramble I shoved my co- driver out his window to direct me until we could clear the bridge and pull over, whew good job I was good at night driving.
Jim McKay who was our RSS Cpl. at the trime,came over and asked whats up on finding out just doubled over.It was quite the eye opener that was!! :eek:
 

JackD

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Earl- didn't you know that old truck came with a speed brake? We were a very technically advanced army when those came out.... Actually the big quibble I had with all those trucks - 21/2, 5 ton - was those useless tires.  Those old trucks were really rugged - I flew a 21/2 ton once - north of Harrison Lake - I was hurrying to catch up to the rest of a convoy - and driving the "oiler" 2 1/2 ton and hauling the fuel trailer - the road was smooth except at the approaches to one bridge approached by a blind turn. The first bump shook loose the fire-extinguishers and one went right under the wheel - I held it until I got across the bridge but the road went left and right and I went straight-  landing at some ridiculous angle on the scree slope. Well, when I came-to having struck my head - the first thought was, I'm alive, the second, the truck is still running, the third, after falling out of the cab - the trailer is attached, the fourth, the tires are still inflated. I levered up-right all the drums of gas in the back, levered away the rocks under the truck and spent an hour or so backing and forwarding until I could get it down the slope and then up and out onto the road again - err... it would have been nice if the truck had power steering.... Before leaving, I walked back and picked up the damaged fire extinguishers and threw them in the back. Later that day, when back in the convoy of bowsers from the logistics battalion and with my boss who had spent his day fishing and soaking in one of those hotsprings, climbing up some really steep hill, the fire extinguishers let go. The fellow in front was frantic as he thought I was on fire. The fellow in the back the same, but I realized the smoke was white.. and darned if I was going to stop halfway up that hill. The poor guy in front was really hyperventilating by then as I didn't stop and I was laughing to beat the band. Those trucks.... tough. I supposed this story would have had a different ending if it happened at the beginning of that trip, as I was hauling a trailer of explosives and in a stretch of narrow road cutting north of some emerald coloured lake -which was way down the scree slope, I encountered head -on a full loaded logging truck - I had been waved through by the military police controlling that spot you see. It was the only time I'd ever seen a logging truck put on his brakes for me - but then if we'd hit, we would have taken out the mountain side.
 

Spr.Earl

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F'k Jack that road was a bitch especialy at the North end.
But just reading your last, flash back of you and Ryans POL truck in the wall in the Canyon came to mind as I flew past and you standing there.I still see that to this day.
 

JackD

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yes - good thing I always brought something to read...  Going back to the purpose of this thread. After I left the army, I went into forestry - one of the jobs I did was site prep for seeding/planting - and of course, log harvest - the main hauling beastie was the skidder - with various user modifications of course - That thing always struck me as being a good base for an engineer vehicle - think about it - the tires were mostly armoured - due to the conditions of the job; it is compact; depending on the vehicle, had a very heavy reserve hydraulic capacity. It could have enumerable attachments added to it; never really got stuck in horrendous conditions; was exceptionally stable; off road, can probably  keep up with anything and everything the army has; is virtually maintenance-free. I'm sure it could easily be armoured with bolt on plates, and it could be easily hauled around on a flat bed or in the box of a 10 tonner. What say you all?
 

geo

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1. 2 1/2 ton was a avehicle that was tough to beat (excluding those mud tires) engine wasn't much to look at but, in the hands of an experiences driver & wind at your back, you could wind it up pretty fast. Learned how to drive on the old 3/4 and 2 1/2's... dvr coach just let us loose in the bull pen without having to fear for the worst :)

2. Skidder - good sturdy machine. Worked for Domtar Wood preserving for a time. They are an extremely tough machine that would probably suit Engineers quite well. I agree with you that there isn't much that can go wrong with the beast & the nice part about it is that you don't need an electrician to repair it . Chewing gum, gun tape, Bailing wire & being mechanicaly inclined are all that's needed to keep em going.
 
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