Landing Bridges

Landing Bridges

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Sometimes also known as the St. Pauli Piers, the Landungsbrücken by the River Elbe are the largest landing place in the Port of Hamburg at 688 metres long, and also one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. They consist of floating pontoons, accessible from land by 10 movable bridges.

History of the Landungsbrücken Piers

The first pier pontoons were built in 1839 and served as a terminal for steamships, with the coal they needed for their engines also stored here. As these ships were fuelled by coal, the pier also ensured a sufficient safe distance from the city whilst they re-fuelled, helping reduce any fire risks.

The piers were expanded between 1907-1909, but then later the old piers were destroyed during the Allied bombing in the Second World War.

The pontoon pier area that exists today was rebuilt between 1953-1955, with the last section destroyed in the War (between bridges 2 and 3) not rebuilt until 1976. Further modernisation began 1999.

Landungsbrücken Piers today

Once a landing pier for steam ships, the Landungsbrücken now function as a central transport hub, connecting various lines of Hamburg’s local train and ferry stations. They have become a major tourist magnet due to the numerous (mostly fish) restaurants, food stalls and souvenir shops, as well as being the departure points for harbour pleasure boat cruises and to the waterfront theatres. It’s easy to forget you are walking on a floating platform.

At the western end of the Landungsbrücken is the entrance to the Old Elbe tunnel, and the eastern end is marked by the Pegelturm (water level tower). There are two prominent green-roofed towers that mark the the 205-metre-long terminal building, which became a listed building on 15 September 2003.

The Landungsbrücken is a great spot for viewing some of the large container and cruise ships that come into Hamburg’s port, along with being an interesting location to go for a bracing walk by the Elbe – whilst avoiding the other tourists and seagulls.

Getting to the Landungsbrücken Piers

The piers are located in the St. Pauli area of Hamburg, between the Reeperbahn and Fischmarkt in the lower port area. The piers are a transport hub, with the S-Bahn and U-Bahn stopping at Landungsbrücken station. Line 112 bus stops nearby and the piers are approximately a 35 minute walk from Hamburg’s main central station.

Landing Lane Bridge - 1895

Landing Lane Bridge is a three span, haunched deck girder structure. It was erected in 1991 to replace the existing steel pratt through truss structure which deteriorated beyond repair. Portions of the stone abutments of the earlier bridge at this location were re-used in the construction.

Middlesex County
Bridge No. 3-B-170
Built 1991/1992
Board of Chosen Freeholders
Ronald M. Roman. Director
Stephen J Capestro
Charles H. Garrod, Jr.
Roger W. Daley
Arthur H. Haney
Stephen J. Dalina
James T. Phillips
Thomas F Boylan III (1980-1991)
David B.Crabiel (1978-1991)
County Engineer John J. Reiser Jr.
County Rd. Supervisor Michael J Amodio
County Counsel Edward Gross

Designed by: Buchart Horn, Inc.
Constructed by: Northeast Bridge, Inc.

Erected 1991 by Middlesex County.

Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Architecture &bull Bridges & Viaducts. A significant historical year for this entry is 1991.

Location. 40° 30.551′ N, 74° 27.826′ W. Marker

is in New Brunswick, New Jersey, in Middlesex County. Marker is on Landing Lane, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Cranbury NJ 08512, United States of America. Touch for directions.

Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Historic Community of Raritan Landing (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line) Raritan Landing (approx. 0.2 miles away) Buccleuch (approx. 0.4 miles away) First College Football Game (approx. 0.4 miles away) Buccleuch Mansion (approx. 0.4 miles away) New Brunswick Sailors (approx. half a mile away) Cuban Howitzer (approx. half a mile away) The Birthplace of College Football (approx. 0.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in New Brunswick.

Landing Bridges - History

The year is 1925. Can you name all the bridges across the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers which are within the confines of the District of Columbia which have rails across them? Give up? The answer is ALL of them except one (Chain Bridge).

Interestingly enough, of fifteen bridges constructed across the rivers since 1925, only three new bridges have had rails placed upon them. Two were for Metrorail in the 1970's & 1980's. The third was a temporary emergency structure constructed during World War II.

That temporary structure was the Shepherd's Landing railroad bridge connecting Alexandria's war-vital Potomac Yard with Southeast DC and is a story in itself, but better left for another day.

The bridges in 1925 which had rails upon them, located from North to South on each river were, first, on the Potomac:

  1. The Aqueduct Bridge (out of service)
  2. Francis Scott Key Bridge
  3. the 14th Street Highway Bridge and
  4. the Long Railroad Bridge.

Along the Anacostia, they were

This is the story of one of those bridges a most vital one, even today - The Long Railroad Bridge, traversing the Potomac River.

From all available information, there was considered a need by the fledgling republic to have this crossing almost from the very start. When the seat of Government was first established at this locale in 1800, there was no easy way to reach the disconnected part (Alexandria) of the National Capital except by ferryboat, which was treacherous and perilous at times, especially when a freshet occurred.

Accordingly, on February 8, 1808, the Washington Bridge Company was authorized by an Act of Congress to construct the "Long Bridge" as a toll crossing of the Potomac River. President Thomas Jefferson signed the authorization into law.

The bridge was designed as a timber pile structure with two draw spans to connect the western end of Maryland Ave. at the foot of 14th Street SW with the Virginia shore of our Nation's Capital. Interestingly, the bridge's name seems to have been derived from its planned size and not as a memorial to any particular individual.

On May 20, 1809, Long Bridge was opened to traffic. Five years later, on August 25, 1814, following their successful victory at the Battle of Bladensburg the previous day, the invading British, led by General Robert Ross, set fire to the north end of the Long Bridge as they entered our Nation's Capital. Simultaneously, the American forces set fire to the south end of the bridge, now behind their rather hasty retreat into Virginia.

After the cessation of hostilities, the bridge was restored to service by 1816. On February 22, 1831, high water and ice carried away several spans of the Long Bridge.

In 1832 Congress purchased the bridge for $20,000 and quickly appropriated $60,000 for its repair and upgrading. Additional appropriations were necessary to bring the bridge up to full specifications.

Amid a great deal of pomp and ceremony, it was reopened by President Andrew Jackson and his Cabinet on October 30, 1835 who crossed the rebuilt structure to mark the momentous occasion.

Throughout its early 45-year history, only foot, horse and stagecoach traffic used the structure. This circumstance remained until the mid-1850's.

Since 1835, the B&O Railroad had been serving the city from the north. Meanwhile, an act signed into law by President James K. Polk retro ceded Alexandria back to Virginia on September 7, 1846. By the early 1850's, railroad fever was rampant in Alexandria.

A number of lines were either operating or planning operation by the middle 1850's. These included:

  • Orange & Alexandria
  • Manassas Gap
  • Alexandria, Loudoun & Hampshire and
  • Alexandria & Washington.

Other railroad schemes abounded in these early days of optimism and growth, but these four were among the principals.

The B&O, ever interested in expanding, aligned itself with the Alexandria & Washington in Washington City. The A&W connected from the B&O's station at the edge of Capitol Hill to the north shore of the Long Bridge by about 1855 and from the south shore to Alexandria City by late 1857 or early 1858.

Amazingly, the Virginia legislature forbade the A&W from making any physical connection with any other railroad and no tracks were placed on the bridge at this time. The nuisance process of transferring goods off railroad cars to omnibus for crossing the bridge and transferring them back to railroad cars again was an annoyance which was unfortunately necessary at the time.

On more than one occasion, John W. Garrett, President of the B&O, appealed to the government for permission to construct a newer, sturdier span to either augment or replace the then current structure, but the appeals fell on deaf, politically motivated, ears. Soon, the drumbeats of war and internal strife were sounding. Current events were going to require changes.

With the outbreak of hostilities between North & South and Virginia's May 23, 1861 secession from the Union, the Long Bridge now took on a new, added importance.

Alexandria was quickly occupied by the Union Army and the US Military RR and the bridge's north and south shores were well guarded by Federal troops, ever vigilant for spies, infiltrators, contraband and of course, invasion. Let us remember that the White House, President Lincoln, the Capitol and the entire Federal Legislature were less than three miles from water's edge.

Rails were now placed on the ancient, rickety bridge. It was quickly confirmed that the structure could not safely support the weight of locomotives and freight cars. Instead, lightly loaded railroad cars were transhipped across the mile-long structure, pulled by good old-fashioned horse power.

Not until 1863 was a new, stronger, parallel structure completed, one which could hold the weight of newer, heavier locomotives and freight cars.

The lack of an adequate crossing during the first years of the war was a motivation, at least in part, for the US Military RR headquarters to be located in Alexandria. Of course, the 'ready-made shops' of the Orange & Alexandria and other railroads in that city had something to do with their decision, too.

This new bridge was constructed about 100' down river and had two draw spans like its parallel predecessor. Both structures remained in use throughout the remainder of the Civil War.

Following General Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox, Va., the B&O regained use of the old A&W connecting railroad and leased the bridge from the government. But then came a competitor from the north which ultimately and forever wrenched control from the B&O. That competition was to become known as The Pennsylvania Railroad (nicknamed the Pennsy).

Suffice it to say that the story of the Pennsy and how they got things done has filled many volumes and is too detailed to repeat here in its entirety, but a brief outline of their shenanigans and goings on, where it pertains to this narrative, does merit some repetition.

First, in 1853 came the charter for the Baltimore & Potomac Railroad with its little observed codicil permitting branch lines no longer than 20 miles in length. Then came influential Pennsylvania Senator Simon Cameron, a stockholder in the Pennsy's Northern Central RR which had just gained entry into Baltimore in early 1861.

Cameron became Secretary of War at the start of Lincoln's administration, but was removed only a year later amid charges of payoffs, influence peddling, etc. Things stayed kind of quiet for the duration of the Civil War.

By 1867 though, the pieces of the puzzle were starting to come into place. The Pennsy was financing the B&P, especially its 'branch line' of just less than twenty miles length, and the rest of the 75-mile Baltimore & Potomac RR mainline in order to break the B&O's railroad monopoly of the District of Columbia.

Of course Senator Cameron was there to help with the June 21, 1870 Congressional approval of the Virginia Ave. routing and trackage and securing the prestigious site on the Mall at 6th & B Streets, NW, with 14 acres of Federal Land thrown in for good measure as the location for the B&P station.

Perpetual use of the Long Bridge was also part of this deal provided the railroad kept it in good working order.

One of the original persons securing the 1853 B&P charter had been none other than Oden Bowie. He had been a stockholder right from the beginning and by 1869 this same Oden Bowie just happened to be the Governor of Maryland.

Other events were unfolding in fairly rapid succession on the Virginia shore which would also affect local railroad history forever as well.

The B&P took over the dormant Alexandria & Fredericksburg RR's 1864 charter and started connecting Alexandria with the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac RR just north of Fredericksburg, a task completed on July 18, 1872. The Pennsy interests also secured control of the A&W connecting railroad on the District shore by April 1872. Alexander Robey "Boss" Shepherd, future Territorial Governor of the District of Columbia, and controller of the all-powerful Board of Public Works, felt the Capital City needed many civic improvements, among which were the elimination of the A&W's many at-grade crossings in the city.

As the A&W was now controlled by Pennsy interests, they acceded to not remove rather than build the expensive elevated trackage to be required. Boss Shepherd thereby quickly had the B&O disconnected with the south for a generation. The B&P, of course, quickly constructed their own trackage and connections with the Long Bridge.

At the onset of its ownership, in the early 1870's, the Pennsylvania RR (actually the Baltimore & Potomac RR) upgraded the bridge in anticipation of the greatly increasing traffic flow, by now, still just a single span.

From 1882 to 1890 much of the area now known as East & West Potomac Park, the Tidal Basin, Hains Point and the Maine Avenue waterfront were created and enlarged by filling in the swampy, shallow mud flats. No longer would floods or "freshets" inundate Washington's city streets almost as far as the President's House, as they had previously.

However, the Pennsy, even way back in the 1870's and 1880's, had the annoying practice of doing as it wanted and rather than perform a major rebuild of the Long Bridge they simply dumped "rip-rap" beside their piers, choking the openings and creating a partial dam, with predictable results.

Long Bridge was damaged by floods (freshets) in 1831, 1841, 1856, 1860, 1863, 1866, 1867, 1870, 1881, 1887 and by the same May 31, 1889 storms which caused the famous Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood.

Each and every time, it was repaired and brought back to "reasonable" specifications. However, after the 1889 freshet had severely inundated the Mall and much of downtown Washington City, as the Pennsy's critics had envisioned, something had to give.

In 1881 the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore RR (PW&B) finally came under the complete financial control of the Pennsylvania Railroad. More paperwork changes in ownership took place on November 1, 1902 as the Philadelphia, Baltimore & Washington (PB&W) came into existence as a consolidation of the PW&B and the B&P.

By June 6, 1896, the Long Bridge was also taking passage of one of the newest rages in the country for an interurban trolley line also crossed the Potomac River on this structure, sharing rights on the Pennsylvania RR controlled bridge.

This ancient, single-track, antiquated structure was now being tested to its thoroughly congested limits. No fewer than 250 trains of all classes were scheduled on a daily basis. It is recorded that there seemed to always be a train of some sort waiting to cross the river.

It has also been recorded that the draw span, with a vertical clearance of only 10.3', opened 6,597 times during 1896, an average of nearly 20 openings per day! Trains of six different railroads plus the trolley line shared the bridge and, once again, something had to give.

As the new century dawned, a "City Beautiful" movement took form in the Capital City. There was a strong civic desire to restore the Mall to the beautiful vistas as planned and envisioned by L'Enfant. This required removal of, among other things, the unsightly smoke and steam belching locomotives from city streets and a consolidation of train stations.

Out of this movement, Potomac Yard in Alexandria County, Va. and Union Station in Washington City were created. The old, separate city stations were removed. The plan also necessitated a new railroad bridge across the Potomac River at lower 14th Street to handle the increased freight and passenger flow.

Approximately 150' upriver from the old bridge, a new 13 span steel truss bridge was built, this time with only one draw-span. The new double-tracked structure was opened for traffic on August 25, 1904. As originally constructed, it was 2,529 feet long with 11 fixed truss spans and a swing draw span of 280 feet, 6 inches across two 100 ft. clear channels.

All steel placed for the new bridge was previously used except for the swing draw and one of the truss spans. Five of the spans were made of wrought iron dating from 1892 and five more were made of steel dating from 1898. All this used iron had come from a bridge formerly crossing the Delaware River at Trenton, NJ. This 'new' Long Bridge cost $927,000 including approaches to reassemble and complete.

Five hundred feet farther upriver, a new highway bridge, with a swing-span similar to the railroad's, was opened on February 12, 1906. The trolley line's tracks were placed on the deck of this new thoroughly modern bridge with 11 fixed spans plus a swing span of steel truss construction.

This structure cost $1,196,000 including $219,703 for the land and secondary bridge over the Washington Channel (the earlier site of the second draw span). The bridge was 2,667 ft long, 40 feet wide and provided for a 21 ft. clearance above mean low tide.

Two years after completion, the new Highway Bridge was entertaining average daily traffic of 252 trolley cars, 103 automobiles, 780 double teams, 369 single teams, 9 equestrians and 543 pedestrians. Nearly a hundred years later, this writer thinks the overall average daily traffic has increased just a tad bit over these intervening years don't you think?

Interestingly for river traffic, the new railroad bridge, while nearly doubling its former low river clearance, still had an 18" lower margin than the Highway Bridge. Equally intriguing, due to the grade separations taking place and with all the new construction, the moving of the trolley operations was not completed until April 8, 1906 and for a while, at least, it appears there was simultaneous use of all three structures! Some time after late 1906 the old, unsightly Long Bridge was demolished to the regret of no one.

Finally, in 1918 the actual ownership of the Long Bridge was officially in the name of the Pennsylvania Railroad, even though they had, in fact, controlled a structure at this locale for nearly 50 years by this time.

In July 1928 the Highway Bridge was closed for repairs for a short time, perhaps in preparation for the Mount Vernon Memorial Highway construction about to commence soon afterward.

Then, in the 1929-1932 period, the Mt. Vernon Memorial Highway (today we know it as the George Washington Parkway) was built on fill land on the Virginia Shore. Both the railroad and highway bridges had the last two most southerly steel truss spans removed in favor of lots of fill for the new road, built to celebrate the Bi-Centennial of the birth of our first president.

Also, in this same 1929-1932 period, 2 miles or so upriver, the Arlington Memorial Bridge was built. Little known today is the fact that this too was a draw span, not of the swing variety but of the double-leaf bascule type, a type which was growing in greater favor at the time.

Today, you can still see the bridge tender's control house located beneath the steel draw structure as you drive northbound on the George Washington Parkway. Please, however, pay strict attention to the cars on the highway ahead and behind as you drive on this busy, busy road and don't stare at this interesting, but oft-unexplained sight.

Both the Memorial Bridge and its most modern connecting highway were opened to public traffic on January 17, 1932 at an astronomical cost of $470,000 per mile. This was also the last day for the Mt. Vernon, Alexandria & Washington's trolley service to downtown Washington from Alexandria, crossing over the 14th Street Highway Bridge for the final time.

The Pennsylvania RR in the 1934-35 period added catenary across the Long Bridge as they carried their electrification program into Potomac Yard and their servicing facilities for their freight operations.

By 1937-38 the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad needed some new equipment, so they ordered five modern 4-8-4 steam locomotives from Baldwin Locomotive Works in Chester, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia. Amazingly, they were several inches too wide to properly clear the tunnels in Washington. More importantly they had too heavy of an axle-load to traverse the Long Bridge.

These two factors forever consigned these beautiful engines to the Virginia side of the river and freight service. Although they were pressed into emergency passenger service on occasion, they always stayed on the south side of the river. One can only wonder how they were delivered from their Pennsylvania manufacturer to the RF&P at that time.

By 1942, with World War II underway, the weight restrictions on the Long Bridge were becoming a more serious obstacle, so all the truss spans, except the swing span were replaced with new supporting girders and new piers placed between the old ones to support the additional weight. By these actions the Coopers Bridge rating had been raised from an 'E60' to 'E65'.

When the RF&P went to the locomotive manufacturers again for new motive power during WW II, while the weight problem was no longer an issue, they didn't repeat the excess width error of the prior order.

After World War II when all rationing restrictions were removed, it became quickly apparent that a new highway bridge was needed to accommodate the increased traffic load, so from 1947-1950 a new north bound only 14th Street Bridge was built with a double-leaf bascule (draw) span in the channel.

Opened in May 1950, the river traffic clearances on this new span were even greater than the venerable highway bridge. The new bridge was constructed of more modern design and materials than were available at the turn of the century. It was (and of course still is) built of riveted steel, with reinforced concrete decking. When opened and until the 1982 Air Florida plane wreck, it was named "Rochambeau."

The reasons for all the extra information about the highway bridges here will become apparent shortly, as they figure in a bit of railroad trivia which one hopes you will find interesting.

In the mid-1950's, came the move to modernize our highways, otherwise known as the Interstate Highway Act. Lots of concrete upon which all those gas guzzling, rubber-tired vehicles could go faster, farther and, hopefully, safer.

In the Washington region, hearings were held questioning the further need for opening draw bridges on the upper Potomac & Anacostia Rivers and it was ultimately decided they were no longer necessary. The old highway bridge was to be replaced with a new structure without a draw span, thereby negating their need forever.

Imagine the sight in the early to mid-1950's if you were a highway commuter crossing the river on one of these bridges, watching this seemingly perpetual motion as a high clearance boat headed up river toward Georgetown.

First, the railroad bridge swings open then before that move was completed, the Rochambeau double-leaf draw span would go up. Even as these first two bridges were completing their circular and rotational moves, the old highway bridge would swing into action to complete these maneuvers. Perhaps 15 minutes or so later, the Memorial Bridge would go up and down too. The movements were reversed going down river, as well.

Of course all these things were taken in stride if you were a commuter then, as the world seemed to be moving a little slower than now and "rush hour" was a whole bunch shorter and slightly less 'rushed.' Who was in a big hurry to get anywhere, anyway?

Today, who enjoys getting stuck in traffic when the Woodrow Wilson Bridge draws up to let river traffic through? What about when the South Capitol St. Bridge (Frederick Douglas) swings around for Navy Yard ships and then gets stuck in the open position for hours?

Legend has it that the first time the South Capitol Street Bridge was swung open for river traffic, it got stuck in the open position, and that was 1950!

Accordingly, the city swore they would never build another swing-span again (and they haven't!). The only reason this one was built in the first place was because of the Anacostia Naval Air Station & Bolling AFB which used to land aircraft at nearby runways. The drawbridge/swing span was right in the plane's flight path.

All flights into or out of Bolling & the NAS ceased in 1958, not related to any issues connected to the river or bridge clearances.

About 1957, a contractor was chosen to build the new "southbound" 14th Street Bridge. His equipment included steam powered cranes mounted on barges. They were floated upriver from his home base of Newport News, Va. to just upstream from the present day bridge which they were about to build.

At this time the job of 'bridge-tender' was a 24-hour affair with river traffic and bridge openings taking place any hour of any day throughout the year. No advance notices like we see today, here in the Washington area.

As construction proceeded to near the river channel, letters were first sent to the affected parties stating the need for 24 hour notices to be given so that the contractor's equipment could be clear of the channel for any swing-span movements. The bridge could still swing open fully, for the reinforcing steel rods in the new channel pier were bent back until the actual zero hour for ending bridge openings arrived.

As an aside, I have been told that the last opening of Memorial Bridge was around 1960 for the removal of the floating Watergate barge involved with summer concerts. Unconfirmed rumor had it during the mid to late 1960's, that to prevent one or more of the Civil Rights marches from crossing, the Memorial Bridge drawspan was raised to prevent passage, but no documentation has been found to confirm that anything like that ever occurred.

Then the zero hour finally arrived and no more swing span openings - except there was to be at least one more, for Diamond Construction Company's equipment needed to depart the same way as it had arrived.

The old Highway Bridge could no longer swing all the way out its full 90-degree extension as new pier #11 of the soon to be named 'George Mason Bridge' partially blocked its way. The equipment squeezed through the narrowed passage of the old Highway Bridge, now only able to swing 60 degrees or so, and no longer the full 90. The Rochambeau and Long Bridges opened seemingly one last time and that was that. End of this part of the story . . . But not quite.

The new George Mason Bridge opened for highway traffic in the early 1960's and the old highway bridge sat there, idle, right next to it, in silent sentinel awaiting its day of reckoning. That was to come starting in early 1967 and would take nearly two years to complete the removal of this old and interesting bridge.

The interstate highway construction bandwagon was well under way when it was decided to remove the old highway bridge and replace it with a new one, of design and specifications similar to the nearby Rochambeau & George Mason structures.

The contractor chosen to remove the old bridge & its piers and put in the first phase (water piers only) of the new bridge was to be none other than Diamond Construction Co. This meant barge mounted steam-powered cranes and at least two more openings of both the Rochambeau Highway and Long Railroad Bridges.

It had been six or more years since the giant gears, weights and motors involved in these operations had moved and the draw & swing mechanisms were crusty to say the least. Some time just prior to Diamond's March 1967 entrance to the region, the DC Department of Highway & Traffic rerouted northbound 14th Street traffic and thoroughly greased, lubed and tested old Rochambeau. No major hitches took place and when the equipment arrived, both bridges performed flawlessly. (It is to be presumed the PRR also tested out their railroad bridge, but that detail is lost to history.).

Throughout the summer of 1967, the old piers and bridge spans were removed one by one with new piers going into place. By early autumn, only one full span of the old highway bridge remained old Span #10, the last from the Virginia shoreline.

The US Navy decided that this old bridge was just what they needed for target practice down at Dahlgren, Va. for their bombers to practice upon prior to dropping ordnance on North Vietnam. How to get it from Washington, D.C. to Dahlgren, Va. fifty miles down river? No problem!

As Diamond Construction already had the method of floating off each span and then rolling it over land on the nearby Virginia shore for local demolition, it would be relatively minor to adjust for a 50-mile journey, rather than a 50-yard trip.

In early October they started the preparation process, but a couple of complicating factors surfaced.

Since part of the span was over land and they were going to have to go through the narrow drawbridge river channels, they were going to have to change their center of gravity for floating off the span.

As the pumps removed thousands of gallons of water from the barges which had been floated under & partially sunk beneath old Span #10 and the tide came in, the old span began to lift off its moorings as planned, but it also started an alarmingly unsafe amount of buckling.

This writer remembers gingerly stepping from the South Abutment to the bending, floating span as the decision was made to halt the operation. The procedure had to be quickly reversed and the old span strengthened in order to survive its last journey. Next time in two weeks would be different . . . and it was!

By early November all was in readiness for the journey down river. At 4:15 on that Wednesday afternoon, old span #10 was parked right next to Rochambeau's draw span, only 25' or so from the left lane. Some of us wondered aloud if some driver would think it was a new left turn. Thankfully, of course that didn't happen.

Thursday, 5:30 a.m comes, the horn sounds, the bell rings and Rochambeau goes up and down on cue. The 100-yard long Span #10 passes through under the able stewardship of the Tugboat "Capt. Toby." In 15 minutes, Rochambeau was back down with highway traffic flowing smoothly once again. Where was this writer? He had a front row seat and was safely on the tugboat enjoying and marveling at the action!

Now came the real fun to watch and see the venerable Long Bridge swing around 90 degrees!

In the intervening six years or so, since swing-span movements had been an everyday occurrence, straight track had been put in across the channel and now had to be removed at each end of the double-track, guard railed swing span. That took several hours and by shortly after noon, all was in readiness.

The contractor's 150 cfm air compressor sprung to life as demand for its services strengthened and grew. Then the docking/alignment clamps were released followed in short order by the air operated lifts releasing their hold from the ends of the swing span.

The operator moved the 'Johnson Bar', gently tugged at the 'throttle' and the Long Bridge swung clockwise around into action. Further, further, further until we had moved the full 90-degree extension!

Now, the impatient ocean going tugboat "Frank Jackson" took charge of this 60+ year old bridge span for the journey down the river and its thousands of tons of steel, and away they went. The "Frank Jackson" couldn't normally travel north of the Long railroad bridge because its clearances were 10' too tall.

Long Bridge swung back into place, the lifts raised up, docking clamps were reset and the rails put back into place and all was done. I was told at the time that the US Navy had to pay the Pennsylvania RR $5,000 to have the Long Bridge opened for this special short notice purpose.

On February 1, 1968, a new owner appeared for the Long Bridge due to the merger of the New York Central and the Pennsylvania Railroads.

In the summer of 1965, July 1st to be exact, an interesting event occurred which could have changed Long Bridge and this part of the story.

Somehow, a fire had broken out in the fender system guarding the channel and the fireboat "Firefighter" was called to the rescue. It was a stubborn and difficult to deal with affair but the able fire fighting crew saved the day as they have so many times before and since.

Had the flames been much worse, they might have seriously damaged the swing span that day, not to mention tying up this major North-South rail route. Some of those charred remnants may still be evident even today, more than 30 years later.

By early 1969, things were winding down on the substructure construction job. Old Pier #2, the last one remaining of the old Highway Bridge, was being removed and we wondered aloud if, as it was being dredged, we might be pulling the stopper out of the river.

A strong northwest gale came that day and coupled with an abnormally low tide, water was easily 5 or more feet below anything we had previously seen. Looking downstream, 100 feet or so beyond the current Long Bridge we saw these protrusions above the water in neat symmetrical fashion.

There they were, the remnants of an earlier, ancient incantation of today's Long Bridge. Ever the vigilant, Washington's late great evening newspaper, The Evening Star, was on the ball, for this was the feature photograph on page 1 of the Tuesday, February 11, 1969 edition!

Talk about a slow news day! When the 10 piers & 2 abutments of the old highway bridge needed to be removed, a new, then virtually unknown demolition company with 'revolutionary' ideas was subcontracted to loosen the old concrete and mortar down to the river bottom. Today their fine handiwork of causing structures to implode in very narrow confines, is well-known and has been seen world wide via the media and Hollywood. That's right - the Loizeaux family - Controlled Demolition, Inc. performed one of their very early tasks on the old 14th Street highway bridge's piers and abutments.

Now, Diamond Construction's equipment had to leave once again, so here would truly be Rochambeau and the Long Bridges' last openings! The contractor's equipment was parked next to Rochambeau early that March 3, 1969 evening.

As I walked out onto Rochambeau's deck very late that night, here was something I had not seen before! The long dark, silent, traffic signal controlling highway traffic for the draw span was lit a bright green, signaling and spelling GO for highway traffic. At about 1:45 a.m. the bridge signal now changed from the green GO to an unmistakable red STOP and traffic was now being diverted north to the Memorial Bridge, for the highway crews must have sensed something.

It was snowing quite heavily in these early morning hours but the Bridge Tender Crew went about their tasks. Earlier, they had turned on the control panel, checked the relays and prepared for action. 1:50 a.m. and up, up, up it went the double-leaf bascule span for its last time, until the maximum angle of nearly 80 degrees from horizontal was reached by each leaf of this graceful, beautiful bascule span.

It took nearly 15 minutes for the three steam-powered cranes' barges to be pushed safely through and secured between Rochambeau and Long Bridges. Once the 'safe signal' was received, it was time to close the draw bridge and reopen the roadway to traffic.

With feet on the 'dead-man' controls, the levers were moved again and the north leaf (DC side) started down, down, down without incident, all the while nothing was happening on the south leaf. There it stood at attention. Uh-oh.

Quickly now, several people came out of the bridge tender control house and clambered down the steps into the gear and counterweight room below. Up they went on ladders with hammers in hands. Then they started hitting this crusty old limit switch contactor.

After a few minutes, all of a sudden, a loud motor started into motion with a loud 'hum' and the huge counterweight started swinging back up where it belonged, causing a very rapid human movement down those same ladders to quickly get out of the way of those tons of concrete and steel which were swinging in their direction.

The south leaf now came down, and the north leaf was raised slightly again to realign the interlocking mechanisms just one last time. The drawbridge closed for excess-height river traffic forever. The traffic control signal on Rochambeau was changed to green fifty-two minutes after it all began and the bridge was reopened to motor vehicles once again.

For the Long Bridge, the procedure was the same as previously described with one minor exception. The operator, this time, kept the 'Johnson Bar' in neutral and opened the throttle, admitting air into the cylinder chambers for nearly an hour to clear things out, unlike the previous openings, so that all would be better lubed this time.

It was kind of like opening the cylinder cocks on a steam locomotive. By 9:47 a.m., all restraining rails had been removed and we were ready for action. As this writer stood fearlessly out on the south end and the lifts & docking mechanisms released their grip this one last time, it felt like floating on air.

Once again, we rotated clockwise, with the north end swinging down river. The air compressor did its function, the operator did his job and the Long Bridge performed its tasks flawlessly. Within 20 minutes it was all over, the bridge was back into place. The equipment was gone and the track gang was back at work respiking and rebolting some 16 running and guardrails back into place.

By the 1970's the old bridge tender's cabin on Long Bridge had become a haven for homeless and other miscreants. The cabin also became the object of various annual high schools' ritualistic pranks to put their graffiti upon the outside of it. The cabin was removed and with it the problems just described have disappeared. Some of the old gears are still visible, but they now only await their ultimate call to the high iron.

Of course, there have been a few other changes along the way as well. After the Penn-Central debacle, came the creation of Conrail, as they became the owners of Long Bridge commencing April 1, 1976. And right on schedule, June 1, 1999, the new owner is CSX, following the carefully managed dismemberment of Conrail.

By November 1981, Conrail could no longer justify the use of electrification, so the catenary, originally placed by the Pennsylvania RR way back in 1935, was de-energized and removed sometime afterward.

After the January 1987 collision between an Amtrak passenger train and Conrail freight engines, north of Baltimore at Chase, Md. came the most dramatic changes to the region, albeit a few miles south of Long Bridge the total dismantling of the Potomac Classification Yard.

If only Rip Van Winkle had lain down to sleep only in 1985 or so and re awoke in the new millennium, he would scarcely recognize the region. Of course, that assumes he was a railfan.

Today, in the year 2003, 60 and 100 years after the last two major rebuilds (1904 & 1942), Long Bridge is still a major north-south railroad gateway on the east coast. From 1809 to 2003 and probably for many years to come, a Long Bridge has served and will continue to do so for both freight and passenger traffic. It has seen it all -- horse, buggy, foot, steam, electric, diesel power -- and will probably live to see whatever the next generation has to offer.

( A bibliography is available upon request, please send a stamped self-addressed envelope with your request to: Editor, the Timetable.)

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After the German Army invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin began pressing his new allies for the creation of a second front in western Europe. [13] In late May 1942 the Soviet Union and the United States made a joint announcement that a ". full understanding was reached with regard to the urgent tasks of creating a second front in Europe in 1942." [14] However, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill persuaded US President Franklin D. Roosevelt to postpone the promised invasion as, even with US help, the Allies did not have adequate forces for such an activity. [15]

Instead of an immediate return to France, the western Allies staged offensives in the Mediterranean Theatre of Operations, where British troops were already stationed. By mid-1943 the campaign in North Africa had been won. The Allies then launched the invasion of Sicily in July 1943, and subsequently invaded the Italian mainland in September the same year. By then, Soviet forces were on the offensive and had won a major victory at the Battle of Stalingrad. The decision to undertake a cross-channel invasion within the next year was taken at the Trident Conference in Washington in May 1943. [16] Initial planning was constrained by the number of available landing craft, most of which were already committed in the Mediterranean and Pacific. [17] At the Tehran Conference in November 1943, Roosevelt and Churchill promised Stalin that they would open the long-delayed second front in May 1944. [18]

The Allies considered four sites for the landings: Brittany, the Cotentin Peninsula, Normandy, and the Pas-de-Calais. As Brittany and Cotentin are peninsulas, it would have been possible for the Germans to cut off the Allied advance at a relatively narrow isthmus, so these sites were rejected. [19] With the Pas-de-Calais being the closest point in continental Europe to Britain, the Germans considered it to be the most likely initial landing zone, so it was the most heavily fortified region. [20] But it offered few opportunities for expansion, as the area is bounded by numerous rivers and canals, [21] whereas landings on a broad front in Normandy would permit simultaneous threats against the port of Cherbourg, coastal ports further west in Brittany, and an overland attack towards Paris and eventually into Germany. Normandy was hence chosen as the landing site. [22] The most serious drawback of the Normandy coast—the lack of port facilities—would be overcome through the development of artificial Mulberry harbours. [23] A series of modified tanks, nicknamed Hobart's Funnies, dealt with specific requirements expected for the Normandy Campaign such as mine clearing, demolishing bunkers, and mobile bridging. [24]

The Allies planned to launch the invasion on 1 May 1944. [21] The initial draft of the plan was accepted at the Quebec Conference in August 1943. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was appointed commander of Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF). [25] General Bernard Montgomery was named as commander of the 21st Army Group, which comprised all land forces involved in the invasion. [26] On 31 December 1943 Eisenhower and Montgomery first saw the plan, which proposed amphibious landings by three divisions with two more divisions in support. The two generals immediately insisted that the scale of the initial invasion be expanded to five divisions, with airborne descents by three additional divisions, to allow operations on a wider front and to hasten the capture of Cherbourg. [27] The need to acquire or produce extra landing craft for the expanded operation meant that the invasion had to be delayed to June. [27] Eventually, thirty-nine Allied divisions would be committed to the Battle of Normandy: twenty-two US, twelve British, three Canadian, one Polish, and one French, totalling over a million troops [28] all under overall British command. [29]

Operation Overlord was the name assigned to the establishment of a large-scale lodgement on the Continent. The first phase, the amphibious invasion and establishment of a secure foothold, was codenamed Operation Neptune. [23] To gain the air superiority needed to ensure a successful invasion, the Allies undertook a bombing campaign (codenamed Operation Pointblank) that targeted German aircraft production, fuel supplies, and airfields. [23] Elaborate deceptions, codenamed Operation Bodyguard, were undertaken in the months leading up to the invasion to prevent the Germans from learning the timing and location of the invasion. [30]

The landings were to be preceded by airborne operations near Caen on the eastern flank to secure the Orne River bridges and north of Carentan on the western flank. The Americans, assigned to land at Utah Beach and Omaha Beach, were to attempt to capture Carentan and St. Lô the first day, then cut off the Cotentin Peninsula and eventually capture the port facilities at Cherbourg. The British at Sword and Gold Beaches and Canadians at Juno Beach would protect the US flank and attempt to establish airfields near Caen on the first day. [31] [32] (A sixth beach, code-named "Band", was considered to the east of the Orne. [33] ) A secure lodgement would be established with all invading forces linked together, and an attempt made to hold all territory north of the Avranches-Falaise line within the first three weeks. [31] [32] Montgomery envisaged a ninety-day battle, lasting until all Allied forces reached the River Seine. [34]

Under the overall umbrella of Operation Bodyguard, the Allies conducted several subsidiary operations designed to mislead the Germans as to the date and location of the Allied landings. [35] Operation Fortitude included Fortitude North, a misinformation campaign using fake radio traffic to lead the Germans into expecting an attack on Norway, [36] and Fortitude South, a major deception involving the creation of a fictitious First United States Army Group under Lieutenant General George S. Patton, supposedly located in Kent and Sussex. Fortitude South was intended to deceive the Germans into believing that the main attack would take place at Calais. [30] [37] Genuine radio messages from 21st Army Group were first routed to Kent via landline and then broadcast, to give the Germans the impression that most of the Allied troops were stationed there. [38] Patton was stationed in England until 6 July, thus continuing to deceive the Germans into believing a second attack would take place at Calais. [39]

Many of the German radar stations on the French coast were destroyed in preparation for the landings. [40] In addition, on the night before the invasion, a small group of Special Air Service (SAS) operators deployed dummy paratroopers over Le Havre and Isigny. These dummies led the Germans to believe that an additional airborne landing had occurred. On that same night, in Operation Taxable, No. 617 Squadron RAF dropped strips of "window", metal foil that caused a radar return which was mistakenly interpreted by German radar operators as a naval convoy near Le Havre. The illusion was bolstered by a group of small vessels towing barrage balloons. A similar deception was undertaken near Boulogne-sur-Mer in the Pas de Calais area by No. 218 Squadron RAF in Operation Glimmer. [41] [3]

The invasion planners determined a set of conditions involving the phase of the moon, the tides, and the time of day that would be satisfactory on only a few days in each month. A full moon was desirable, as it would provide illumination for aircraft pilots and have the highest tides. The Allies wanted to schedule the landings for shortly before dawn, midway between low and high tide, with the tide coming in. This would improve the visibility of obstacles on the beach while minimising the amount of time the men would be exposed in the open. [42] Eisenhower had tentatively selected 5 June as the date for the assault. However, on 4 June, conditions were unsuitable for a landing: high winds and heavy seas made it impossible to launch landing craft, and low clouds would prevent aircraft from finding their targets. [43]

Group Captain James Stagg of the Royal Air Force (RAF) met Eisenhower on the evening of 4 June. He and his meteorological team predicted that the weather would improve enough for the invasion to proceed on 6 June. [44] The next available dates with the required tidal conditions (but without the desirable full moon) would be two weeks later, from 18 to 20 June. Postponement of the invasion would have required recalling men and ships already in position to cross the Channel and would have increased the chance that the invasion plans would be detected. [45] After much discussion with the other senior commanders, Eisenhower decided that the invasion should go ahead on the 6th. [46] A major storm battered the Normandy coast from 19 to 22 June, which would have made the beach landings impossible. [43]

Allied control of the Atlantic meant German meteorologists had less information than the Allies on incoming weather patterns. [40] As the Luftwaffe meteorological centre in Paris was predicting two weeks of stormy weather, many Wehrmacht commanders left their posts to attend war games in Rennes, and men in many units were given leave. [47] Field Marshal Erwin Rommel returned to Germany for his wife's birthday and to meet with Hitler to try to obtain more Panzers. [48]

Nazi Germany had at its disposal fifty divisions in France and the Low Countries, with another eighteen stationed in Denmark and Norway. Fifteen divisions were in the process of formation in Germany. [49] Combat losses throughout the war, particularly on the Eastern Front, meant that the Germans no longer had a pool of able young men from which to draw. German soldiers were now on average six years older than their Allied counterparts. Many in the Normandy area were Ostlegionen (eastern legions)—conscripts and volunteers from Russia, Mongolia, and other areas of the Soviet Union. They were provided mainly with unreliable captured equipment and lacked motorised transport. [50] [51] Many German units were under strength. [52]

In early 1944, the German Western Front (OB West) was significantly weakened by personnel and materiel transfers to the Eastern Front. During the Soviet Dnieper–Carpathian Offensive (24 December 1943 – 17 April 1944), the German High Command was forced to transfer the entire II SS Panzer Corps from France, consisting of the 9th and 10th SS Panzer Divisions, as well as the 349th Infantry Division, 507th Heavy Panzer Battalion and the 311th and 322nd StuG Assault Gun Brigades. All told, the German forces stationed in France were deprived of 45,827 troops and 363 tanks, assault guns, and self-propelled anti-tank guns. [53] It was the first major transfer of forces from France to the east since the creation of Führer Directive 51, which no longer allowed any transfers from the west to the east. [54]

The 1st SS Panzer Division "Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler", 9th, 11th, 19th and 116th Panzer divisions, alongside the 2nd SS Panzer Division "Das Reich", had only arrived in March–May 1944 to France for extensive refit after being badly damaged during Dnieper-Carpathian operation. Seven of the eleven panzer or panzergrenadier divisions stationed in France were still not fully operational or only partially mobile in early June 1944. [55]

  • Oberbefehlshaber West (Supreme Commander West OB West): Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt
  • (Panzer Group West: General Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg)
    : Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
      : GeneraloberstFriedrich Dollmann
      • LXXXIV Corps under General der ArtillerieErich Marcks

      Cotentin Peninsula

      Allied forces attacking Utah Beach faced the following German units stationed on the Cotentin Peninsula:

        709th Static Infantry Division under GeneralleutnantKarl-Wilhelm von Schlieben numbered 12,320 men, many of them Ostlegionen (non-German conscripts recruited from Soviet prisoners of war, Georgians and Poles). [56]
        • 729th Grenadier Regiment [57]
        • 739th Grenadier Regiment [57]
        • 919th Grenadier Regiment [57]

        Grandcamps Sector

        Americans assaulting Omaha Beach faced the following troops:

          352nd Infantry Division under GeneralleutnantDietrich Kraiss, a full-strength unit of around 12,000 brought in by Rommel on 15 March and reinforced by two additional regiments. [58]
          • 914th Grenadier Regiment [59]
          • 915th Grenadier Regiment (as reserves) [59]
          • 916th Grenadier Regiment [59]
          • 726th Infantry Regiment (from 716th Infantry Division) [59]
          • 352nd Artillery Regiment [59]

          Allied forces at Gold and Juno faced the following elements of the 352nd Infantry Division:

          • 914th Grenadier Regiment [60]
          • 915th Grenadier Regiment [60]
          • 916th Grenadier Regiment [60]
          • 352nd Artillery Regiment [60]

          Forces around Caen

          Allied forces attacking Gold, Juno, and Sword Beaches faced the following German units:

            716th Static Infantry Division under GeneralleutnantWilhelm Richter. At 7,000 troops, the division was significantly understrength. [61]
            • 736th Infantry Regiment [62]
            • 1716th Artillery Regiment [62]
            • 100th Panzer Regiment [60] (at Falaise under Hermann von Oppeln-Bronikowski renamed 22nd Panzer Regiment in May 1944 to avoid confusion with 100th Panzer Battalion) [64]
            • 125th Panzergrenadier Regiment [60] (under Hans von Luck from April 1944) [65]
            • 192nd Panzergrenadier Regiment [60]
            • 155th Panzer Artillery Regiment [60]

            Alarmed by the raids on St Nazaire and Dieppe in 1942, Hitler had ordered the construction of fortifications all along the Atlantic coast, from Spain to Norway, to protect against an expected Allied invasion. He envisioned 15,000 emplacements manned by 300,000 troops, but shortages, particularly of concrete and manpower, meant that most of the strongpoints were never built. [66] As it was expected to be the site of the invasion, the Pas de Calais was heavily defended. [66] In the Normandy area, the best fortifications were concentrated at the port facilities at Cherbourg and Saint-Malo. [27] Rommel was assigned to oversee the construction of further fortifications along the expected invasion front, which stretched from the Netherlands to Cherbourg, [66] [67] and was given command of the newly re-formed Army Group B, which included the 7th Army, the 15th Army, and the forces guarding the Netherlands. Reserves for this group included the 2nd, 21st, and 116th Panzer divisions. [68] [69]

            Rommel believed that the Normandy coast could be a possible landing point for the invasion, so he ordered the construction of extensive defensive works along that shore. In addition to concrete gun emplacements at strategic points along the coast, he ordered wooden stakes, metal tripods, mines, and large anti-tank obstacles to be placed on the beaches to delay the approach of landing craft and impede the movement of tanks. [70] Expecting the Allies to land at high tide so that the infantry would spend less time exposed on the beach, he ordered many of these obstacles to be placed at the high water mark. [42] Tangles of barbed wire, booby traps, and the removal of ground cover made the approach hazardous for infantry. [70] On Rommel's order, the number of mines along the coast was tripled. [27] The Allied air offensive over Germany had crippled the Luftwaffe and established air supremacy over western Europe, so Rommel knew he could not expect effective air support. [71] The Luftwaffe could muster only 815 aircraft [72] over Normandy in comparison to the Allies' 9,543. [73] Rommel arranged for booby-trapped stakes known as Rommelspargel (Rommel's asparagus) to be installed in meadows and fields to deter airborne landings. [27]

            Nazi armaments minister Albert Speer notes in his 1969 autobiography that the German high command, concerned about the susceptibility of the airports and port facilities along the North Sea coast, held a conference on 6–8 June 1944 to discuss reinforcing defenses in that area. [74] Speer wrote:

            In Germany itself we scarcely had any troop units at our disposal. If the airports at Hamburg and Bremen could be taken by parachute units and the ports of these cities seized by small forces, invasion armies debarking from ships would, I feared, meet no resistance and would be occupying Berlin and all of Germany within a few days. [75]

            Rommel believed that Germany's best chance was to stop the invasion at the shore. He requested that the mobile reserves, especially tanks, be stationed as close to the coast as possible. Rundstedt, Geyr, and other senior commanders objected. They believed that the invasion could not be stopped on the beaches. Geyr argued for a conventional doctrine: keeping the Panzer formations concentrated in a central position around Paris and Rouen and deploying them only when the main Allied beachhead had been identified. He also noted that in the Italian Campaign, the armoured units stationed near the coast had been damaged by naval bombardment. Rommel's opinion was that because of Allied air supremacy, the large-scale movement of tanks would not be possible once the invasion was under way. Hitler made the final decision, which was to leave three Panzer divisions under Geyr's command and give Rommel operational control of three more as reserves. Hitler took personal control of four divisions as strategic reserves, not to be used without his direct orders. [76] [77] [78]

            Commander, SHAEF: General Dwight D. Eisenhower
            Commander, 21st Army Group: General Bernard Montgomery [79]

            US zones

            Commander, First Army (United States): Lieutenant General Omar Bradley [79]

            The First Army contingent totalled approximately 73,000 men, including 15,600 from the airborne divisions. [80]

              VII Corps, commanded by Major General J. Lawton Collins[81]
                4th Infantry Division: Major General Raymond O. Barton[81]82nd Airborne Division: Major General Matthew Ridgway[81]90th Infantry Division: Brigadier General Jay W. MacKelvie[81]101st Airborne Division: Major General Maxwell D. Taylor[81]
                V Corps, commanded by Major General Leonard T. Gerow, making up 34,250 men [82]
                  1st Infantry Division: Major General Clarence R. Huebner[83]29th Infantry Division: Major General Charles H. Gerhardt[83]

                British and Canadian zones

                Commander, Second Army (Britain and Canada): Lieutenant General Sir Miles Dempsey [79]

                Overall, the Second Army contingent consisted of 83,115 men, 61,715 of them British. [80] The nominally British air and naval support units included a large number of personnel from Allied nations, including several RAF squadrons manned almost exclusively by overseas air crew. For example, the Australian contribution to the operation included a regular Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) squadron, nine Article XV squadrons, and hundreds of personnel posted to RAF units and RN warships. [84] The RAF supplied two-thirds of the aircraft involved in the invasion. [85]

                  British I Corps, commanded by Lieutenant General John Crocker[87]
                    3rd Canadian Division: Major General Rod Keller[87]
                    British I Corps, commanded by Lieutenant General John Crocker [88]
                      3rd Infantry Division: Major General Tom Rennie[88]6th Airborne Division: Major General R.N. Gale[88]

                    79th Armoured Division: Major General Percy Hobart [89] provided specialised armoured vehicles which supported the landings on all beaches in Second Army's sector.

                    Through the London-based État-major des Forces Françaises de l'Intérieur (French Forces of the Interior), the British Special Operations Executive orchestrated a campaign of sabotage to be implemented by the French Resistance. The Allies developed four plans for the Resistance to execute on D-Day and the following days:

                    • Plan Vert was a 15-day operation to sabotage the rail system.
                    • Plan Bleu dealt with destroying electrical facilities.
                    • Plan Tortue was a delaying operation aimed at the enemy forces that would potentially reinforce Axis forces at Normandy.
                    • Plan Violet dealt with cutting underground telephone and teleprinter cables. [90]

                    The resistance was alerted to carry out these tasks by messages personnels transmitted by the BBC's French service from London. Several hundred of these messages, which might be snatches of poetry, quotations from literature, or random sentences, were regularly transmitted, masking the few that were actually significant. In the weeks preceding the landings, lists of messages and their meanings were distributed to resistance groups. [91] An increase in radio activity on 5 June was correctly interpreted by German intelligence to mean that an invasion was imminent or underway. However, because of the barrage of previous false warnings and misinformation, most units ignored the warning. [92] [93]

                    A 1965 report from the Counter-insurgency Information Analysis Center details the results of the French Resistance's sabotage efforts: "In the southeast, 52 locomotives were destroyed on 6 June and the railway line cut in more than 500 places. Normandy was isolated as of 7 June." [94]

                    Naval operations for the invasion were described by historian Correlli Barnett as a "never surpassed masterpiece of planning". [95] In overall command was British Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay, who had served as Flag officer at Dover during the Dunkirk evacuation four years earlier. He had also been responsible for the naval planning of the invasion of North Africa in 1942, and one of the two fleets carrying troops for the invasion of Sicily the following year. [96]

                    The invasion fleet, which was drawn from eight different navies, comprised 6,939 vessels: 1,213 warships, 4,126 landing craft of various types, 736 ancillary craft, and 864 merchant vessels. [80] The majority of the fleet was supplied by the UK, which provided 892 warships and 3,261 landing craft. [85] In total there were 195,700 naval personnel involved of these 112,824 were from the Royal Navy with another 25,000 from the Merchant Navy, 52,889 were American, and 4,998 sailors from other allied countries. [80] [8] The invasion fleet was split into the Western Naval Task Force (under Admiral Alan G Kirk) supporting the US sectors and the Eastern Naval Task Force (under Admiral Sir Philip Vian) in the British and Canadian sectors. [97] [96] Available to the fleet were five battleships, 20 cruisers, 65 destroyers, and two monitors. [98] German ships in the area on D-Day included three torpedo boats, 29 fast attack craft, 36 R boats, and 36 minesweepers and patrol boats. [99] The Germans also had several U-boats available, and all the approaches had been heavily mined. [42]

                    Naval losses

                    At 05:10, four German torpedo boats reached the Eastern Task Force and launched fifteen torpedoes, sinking the Norwegian destroyer HNoMS Svenner off Sword beach but missing the British battleships HMS Warspite and Ramillies. After attacking, the German vessels turned away and fled east into a smoke screen that had been laid by the RAF to shield the fleet from the long-range battery at Le Havre. [100] Allied losses to mines included the American destroyer USS Corry off Utah and submarine chaser USS PC-1261, a 173-foot patrol craft. [101] In addition, many landing craft were lost. [102]

                    Bombing of Normandy began around midnight with more than 2,200 British, Canadian, and US bombers attacking targets along the coast and further inland. [42] The coastal bombing attack was largely ineffective at Omaha, because low cloud cover made the assigned targets difficult to see. Concerned about inflicting casualties on their own troops, many bombers delayed their attacks too long and failed to hit the beach defences. [103] The Germans had 570 aircraft stationed in Normandy and the Low Countries on D-Day, and another 964 in Germany. [42]

                    Minesweepers began clearing channels for the invasion fleet shortly after midnight and finished just after dawn without encountering the enemy. [104] The Western Task Force included the battleships Arkansas, Nevada, and Texas, plus eight cruisers, 28 destroyers, and one monitor. [105] The Eastern Task Force included the battleships Ramillies and Warspite and the monitor Roberts, twelve cruisers, and thirty-seven destroyers. [2] Naval bombardment of areas behind the beach commenced at 05:45, while it was still dark, with the gunners switching to pre-assigned targets on the beach as soon as it was light enough to see, at 05:50. [106] Since troops were scheduled to land at Utah and Omaha starting at 06:30 (an hour earlier than the British beaches), these areas received only about 40 minutes of naval bombardment before the assault troops began to land on the shore. [107]

                    The success of the amphibious landings depended on the establishment of a secure lodgement from which to expand the beachhead to allow the buildup of a well-supplied force capable of breaking out. The amphibious forces were especially vulnerable to strong enemy counter-attacks before the arrival of sufficient forces in the beachhead could be accomplished. To slow or eliminate the enemy's ability to organise and launch counter-attacks during this critical period, airborne operations were used to seize key objectives such as bridges, road crossings, and terrain features, particularly on the eastern and western flanks of the landing areas. The airborne landings some distance behind the beaches were also intended to ease the egress of the amphibious forces off the beaches, and in some cases to neutralise German coastal defence batteries and more quickly expand the area of the beachhead. [108] [109]

                    The US 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions were assigned to objectives west of Utah Beach, where they hoped to capture and control the few narrow causeways through terrain that had been intentionally flooded by the Germans. Reports from Allied intelligence in mid-May of the arrival of the German 91st Infantry Division meant the intended drop zones had to be shifted eastward and to the south. [110] The British 6th Airborne Division, on the eastern flank, was assigned to capture intact the bridges over the Caen Canal and River Orne, destroy five bridges over the Dives 6 miles (9.7 km) to the east, and destroy the Merville Gun Battery overlooking Sword Beach. [111] Free French paratroopers from the British SAS Brigade were assigned to objectives in Brittany from 5 June until August in Operations Dingson, Samwest, and Cooney. [112] [113]

                    BBC war correspondent Robert Barr described the scene as paratroopers prepared to board their aircraft:

                    Their faces were darkened with cocoa sheathed knives were strapped to their ankles tommy guns strapped to their waists bandoliers and hand grenades, coils of rope, pick handles, spades, rubber dinghies hung around them, and a few personal oddments, like the lad who was taking a newspaper to read on the plane . There was an easy familiar touch about the way they were getting ready, as though they had done it often before. Well, yes, they had kitted up and climbed aboard often just like this—twenty, thirty, forty times some of them, but it had never been quite like this before. This was the first combat jump for every one of them. [114]

                    United States

                    The US airborne landings began with the arrival of pathfinders at 00:15. Navigation was difficult because of a bank of thick cloud, and as a result, only one of the five paratrooper drop zones was accurately marked with radar signals and Aldis lamps. [115] Paratroopers of the US 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, numbering over 13,000 men, were delivered by Douglas C-47 Skytrains of the IX Troop Carrier Command. [116] To avoid flying over the invasion fleet, the planes arrived from the west over the Cotentin Peninsula and exited over Utah Beach. [117] [115]

                    Paratroops from 101st Airborne were dropped beginning around 01:30, tasked with controlling the causeways behind Utah Beach and destroying road and rail bridges over the Douve River. [118] The C-47s could not fly in a tight formation because of thick cloud cover, and many paratroopers were dropped far from their intended landing zones. Many planes came in so low that they were under fire from both flak and machine-gun fire. Some paratroopers were killed on impact when their parachutes did not have time to open, and others drowned in the flooded fields. [119] Gathering together into fighting units was made difficult by a shortage of radios and by the bocage terrain, with its hedgerows, stone walls, and marshes. [120] [121] Some units did not arrive at their targets until afternoon, by which time several of the causeways had already been cleared by members of the 4th Infantry Division moving up from the beach. [122]

                    Troops of the 82nd Airborne began arriving around 02:30, with the primary objective of capturing two bridges over the River Merderet and destroying two bridges over the Douve. [118] On the east side of the river, 75 per cent of the paratroopers landed in or near their drop zone, and within two hours they captured the important crossroads at Sainte-Mère-Église (the first town liberated in the invasion [123] ) and began working to protect the western flank. [124] Because of the failure of the pathfinders to accurately mark their drop zone, the two regiments dropped on the west side of the Merderet were extremely scattered, with only four per cent landing in the target area. [124] Many landed in nearby swamps, with much loss of life. [125] Paratroopers consolidated into small groups, usually a combination of men of various ranks from different units, and attempted to concentrate on nearby objectives. [126] They captured but failed to hold the Merderet River bridge at La Fière, and fighting for the crossing continued for several days. [127]

                    Reinforcements arrived by glider around 04:00 (Mission Chicago and Mission Detroit), and 21:00 (Mission Keokuk and Mission Elmira), bringing additional troops and heavy equipment. Like the paratroopers, many landed far from their drop zones. [128] Even those that landed on target experienced difficulty, with heavy cargo such as Jeeps shifting during landing, crashing through the wooden fuselage, and in some cases crushing personnel on board. [129]

                    After 24 hours, only 2,500 men of the 101st and 2,000 of the 82nd Airborne were under the control of their divisions, approximately a third of the force dropped. This wide dispersal had the effect of confusing the Germans and fragmenting their response. [130] The 7th Army received notification of the parachute drops at 01:20, but Rundstedt did not initially believe that a major invasion was underway. The destruction of radar stations along the Normandy coast in the week before the invasion meant that the Germans did not detect the approaching fleet until 02:00. [131]

                    British and Canadian

                    The first Allied action of D-Day was the capture of the Caen canal and Orne river bridges via a glider assault at 00:16 (since renamed Pegasus Bridge and Horsa Bridge). Both bridges were quickly captured intact, with light casualties by the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Regiment. They were then reinforced by members of the 5th Parachute Brigade and the 7th (Light Infantry) Parachute Battalion. [132] [133] The five bridges over the Dives were destroyed with minimal difficulty by the 3rd Parachute Brigade. [134] [135] Meanwhile, the pathfinders tasked with setting up radar beacons and lights for further paratroopers (scheduled to begin arriving at 00:50 to clear the landing zone north of Ranville) were blown off course and had to set up the navigation aids too far east. Many paratroopers, also blown too far east, landed far from their intended drop zones some took hours or even days to be reunited with their units. [136] [137] Major General Richard Gale arrived in the third wave of gliders at 03:30, along with equipment, such as antitank guns and jeeps, and more troops to help secure the area from counter-attacks, which were initially staged only by troops in the immediate vicinity of the landings. [138] At 02:00, the commander of the German 716th Infantry Division ordered Feuchtinger to move his 21st Panzer Division into position to counter-attack. However, as the division was part of the armoured reserve, Feuchtinger was obliged to seek clearance from OKW before he could commit his formation. [139] Feuchtinger did not receive orders until nearly 09:00, but in the meantime on his own initiative he put together a battle group (including tanks) to fight the British forces east of the Orne. [140]

                    Only 160 men out of the 600 members of the 9th Battalion tasked with eliminating the enemy battery at Merville arrived at the rendezvous point. Lieutenant Colonel Terence Otway, in charge of the operation, decided to proceed regardless, as the emplacement had to be destroyed by 06:00 to prevent it firing on the invasion fleet and the troops arriving on Sword Beach. In the Battle of Merville Gun Battery, Allied forces disabled the guns with plastic explosives at a cost of 75 casualties. The emplacement was found to contain 75 mm guns rather than the expected 150 mm heavy coastal artillery. Otway's remaining force withdrew with the assistance of a few members of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion. [141]

                    With this action, the last of the D-Day goals of the British 6th Airborne Division was achieved. [142] They were reinforced at 12:00 by commandos of the 1st Special Service Brigade, who landed on Sword Beach, and by the 6th Airlanding Brigade, who arrived in gliders at 21:00 in Operation Mallard. [143]


                    Some of the landing craft had been modified to provide close support fire, and self-propelled amphibious Duplex-Drive tanks (DD tanks), specially designed for the Normandy landings, were to land shortly before the infantry to provide covering fire. However, few arrived in advance of the infantry, and many sank before reaching the shore, especially at Omaha. [144] [145]

                    Utah Beach

                    Utah Beach was in the area defended by two battalions of the 919th Grenadier Regiment. [146] Members of the 8th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division were the first to land, arriving at 06:30. Their landing craft were pushed to the south by strong currents, and they found themselves about 2,000 yards (1.8 km) from their intended landing zone. This site turned out to be better, as there was only one strongpoint nearby rather than two, and bombers of IX Bomber Command had bombed the defences from lower than their prescribed altitude, inflicting considerable damage. In addition, the strong currents had washed ashore many of the underwater obstacles. The assistant commander of the 4th Infantry Division, Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr., the first senior officer ashore, made the decision to "start the war from right here", and ordered further landings to be re-routed. [147] [148]

                    The initial assault battalions were quickly followed by 28 DD tanks and several waves of engineer and demolition teams to remove beach obstacles and clear the area directly behind the beach of obstacles and mines. Gaps were blown in the sea wall to allow quicker access for troops and tanks. Combat teams began to exit the beach at around 09:00, with some infantry wading through the flooded fields rather than travelling on the single road. They skirmished throughout the day with elements of the 919th Grenadier Regiment, who were armed with antitank guns and rifles. The main strongpoint in the area and another 1,300 yards (1.2 km) to the south were disabled by noon. [149] The 4th Infantry Division did not meet all of their D-Day objectives at Utah Beach, partly because they had arrived too far to the south, but they landed 21,000 troops at the cost of only 197 casualties. [150] [151]

                    Pointe du Hoc

                    Pointe du Hoc, a prominent headland situated between Utah and Omaha, was assigned to two hundred men of the 2nd Ranger Battalion, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James Rudder. Their task was to scale the 30 m (98 ft) cliffs with grappling hooks, ropes, and ladders to destroy the coastal gun battery located at the top. The cliffs were defended by the German 352nd Infantry Division and French collaborators firing from above. [152] Allied destroyers Satterlee and Talybont provided fire support. After scaling the cliffs, the Rangers discovered that the guns had already been withdrawn. They located the weapons, unguarded but ready to use, in an orchard some 550 metres (600 yd) south of the point, and disabled them with explosives. [152]

                    The now-isolated Rangers fended off numerous counter-attacks from the German 914th Grenadier Regiment. The men at the point became isolated and some were captured. By dawn on D+1, Rudder had only 90 men able to fight. Relief did not arrive until D+2, when members of the 743rd Tank Battalion and others arrived. [153] [154] By then, Rudder's men had run out of ammunition and were using captured German weapons. Several men were killed as a result, because the German weapons made a distinctive noise, and the men were mistaken for the enemy. [155] By the end of the battle, the Rangers casualties were 135 dead and wounded, while German casualties were 50 killed and 40 captured. An unknown number of French collaborators were executed. [156] [157]

                    Omaha Beach

                    Omaha, the most heavily defended beach, was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division and 29th Infantry Division. [158] They faced the 352nd Infantry Division rather than the expected single regiment. [159] Strong currents forced many landing craft east of their intended position or caused them to be delayed. [160] For fear of hitting the landing craft, US bombers delayed releasing their loads and, as a result, most of the beach obstacles at Omaha remained undamaged when the men came ashore. [161] Many of the landing craft ran aground on sandbars and the men had to wade 50–100m in water up to their necks while under fire to get to the beach. [145] In spite of the rough seas, DD tanks of two companies of the 741st Tank Battalion were dropped 5,000 yards (4,600 m) from shore however, 27 of the 32 flooded and sank, with the loss of 33 crew. [162] Some tanks, disabled on the beach, continued to provide covering fire until their ammunition ran out or they were swamped by the rising tide. [163]

                    Casualties were around 2,000, as the men were subjected to fire from the cliffs above. [164] Problems clearing the beach of obstructions led to the beachmaster calling a halt to further landings of vehicles at 08:30. A group of destroyers arrived around this time to provide fire support so landings could resume. [165] Exit from the beach was possible only via five heavily defended gullies, and by late morning barely 600 men had reached the higher ground. [166] By noon, as the artillery fire took its toll and the Germans started to run out of ammunition, the Americans were able to clear some lanes on the beaches. They also started clearing the gullies of enemy defences so that vehicles could move off the beach. [166] The tenuous beachhead was expanded over the following days, and the D-Day objectives for Omaha were accomplished by D+3. [167]

                    Gold Beach

                    The first landings on Gold beach were set for 07:25 due to the differences in the tide between there and the US beaches. [168] High winds made conditions difficult for the landing craft, and the amphibious DD tanks were released close to shore or directly on the beach instead of further out as planned. [169] Three of the four guns in a large emplacement at the Longues-sur-Mer battery were disabled by direct hits from the cruisers Ajax and Argonaut at 06:20. The fourth gun resumed firing intermittently in the afternoon, and its garrison surrendered on 7 June. [170] Aerial attacks had failed to hit the Le Hamel strongpoint, which had its embrasure facing east to provide enfilade fire along the beach and had a thick concrete wall on the seaward side. [171] Its 75 mm gun continued to do damage until 16:00, when a modified Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers (AVRE) tank fired a large petard charge into its rear entrance. [172] [173] A second casemated emplacement at La Rivière containing an 88 mm gun was neutralised by a tank at 07:30. [174]

                    Meanwhile, infantry began clearing the heavily fortified houses along the shore and advanced on targets further inland. [175] The No. 47 (Royal Marine) Commando moved toward the small port at Port-en-Bessin and captured it the following day in the Battle of Port-en-Bessin. [176] Company Sergeant Major Stanley Hollis received the only Victoria Cross awarded on D-Day for his actions while attacking two pillboxes at the Mont Fleury high point. [177] On the western flank, the 1st Battalion, Hampshire Regiment captured Arromanches (future site of Mulberry "B"), and contact was made on the eastern flank with the Canadian forces at Juno. [178] Bayeux was not captured the first day due to stiff resistance from the 352nd Infantry Division. [175] Allied casualties at Gold Beach are estimated at 1,000. [80]

                    Juno Beach

                    The landing at Juno was delayed because of choppy seas, and the men arrived ahead of their supporting armour, suffering many casualties while disembarking. Most of the offshore bombardment had missed the German defences. [179] Several exits from the beach were created, but not without difficulty. At Mike Beach on the western flank, a large crater was filled using an abandoned AVRE tank and several rolls of fascine, which were then covered by a temporary bridge. The tank remained in place until 1972 when it was removed and restored by members of the Royal Engineers. [180] The beach and nearby streets were clogged with traffic for most of the day, making it difficult to move inland. [102]

                    Major German strongpoints with 75 mm guns, machine-gun nests, concrete fortifications, barbed wire, and mines were located at Courseulles-sur-Mer, St Aubin-sur-Mer, and Bernières-sur-Mer. [181] The towns themselves also had to be cleared in house-to-house fighting. [182] Soldiers on their way to Bény-sur-Mer, 3 miles (5 km) inland, discovered that the road was well covered by machine gun emplacements that had to be outflanked before the advance could proceed. [183] Elements of the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade advanced to within sight of the Carpiquet airfield late in the afternoon, but by this time their supporting armour was low on ammunition so the Canadians dug in for the night. The airfield was not captured until a month later as the area became the scene of fierce fighting. [184] By nightfall, the contiguous Juno and Gold beachheads covered an area 12 miles (19 km) wide and 7 miles (10 km) deep. [185] Casualties at Juno were 961 men. [186]

                    Sword Beach

                    On Sword, 21 of 25 DD tanks of the first wave were successful in getting safely ashore to provide cover for the infantry, who began disembarking at 07:30. [187] The beach was heavily mined and peppered with obstacles, making the work of the beach clearing teams difficult and dangerous. [188] In the windy conditions, the tide came in more quickly than expected, so manoeuvring the armour was difficult. The beach quickly became congested. [189] Brigadier Simon Fraser, 15th Lord Lovat and his 1st Special Service Brigade arrived in the second wave, piped ashore by Private Bill Millin, Lovat's personal piper. [190] Members of No. 4 Commando moved through Ouistreham to attack from the rear a German gun battery on the shore. A concrete observation and control tower at this emplacement had to be bypassed and was not captured until several days later. [191] French forces under Commander Philippe Kieffer (the first French soldiers to arrive in Normandy) attacked and cleared the heavily fortified strongpoint at the casino at Riva Bella, with the aid of one of the DD tanks. [191]

                    The 'Morris' strongpoint near Colleville-sur-Orne was captured after about an hour of fighting. [189] The nearby 'Hillman' strongpoint, headquarters of the 736th Infantry Regiment, was a large complex defensive work that had come through the morning's bombardment essentially undamaged. It was not captured until 20:15. [192] The 2nd Battalion, King's Shropshire Light Infantry began advancing to Caen on foot, coming within a few kilometres of the town, but had to withdraw due to lack of armour support. [193] At 16:00, the 21st Panzer Division mounted a counter-attack between Sword and Juno and nearly succeeded in reaching the Channel. It met stiff resistance from the British 3rd Division and was soon recalled to assist in the area between Caen and Bayeux. [194] [195] Estimates of Allied casualties on Sword Beach are as high as 1,000. [80]

                    The Normandy landings were the largest seaborne invasion in history, with nearly 5,000 landing and assault craft, 289 escort vessels, and 277 minesweepers participating. [196] Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel on D-Day, [29] with 875,000 men disembarking by the end of June. [197] Allied casualties on the first day were at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead. [198] The Germans lost 1,000 men. [12] The Allied invasion plans had called for the capture of Carentan, St. Lô, Caen, and Bayeux on the first day, with all the beaches (other than Utah) linked with a front line 10 to 16 kilometres (6 to 10 mi) from the beaches none of these objectives were achieved. [32] The five beachheads were not connected until 12 June, by which time the Allies held a front around 97 kilometres (60 mi) long and 24 kilometres (15 mi) deep. [199] Caen, a major objective, was still in German hands at the end of D-Day and would not be completely captured until 21 July. [200] The Germans had ordered French civilians other than those deemed essential to the war effort to leave potential combat zones in Normandy. [201] Civilian casualties on D-Day and D+1 are estimated at 3,000. [202]

                    The Allied victory in Normandy stemmed from several factors. German preparations along the Atlantic Wall were only partially finished shortly before D-Day Rommel reported that construction was only 18 per cent complete in some areas as resources were diverted elsewhere. [203] The deceptions undertaken in Operation Fortitude were successful, leaving the Germans obliged to defend a huge stretch of coastline. [204] The Allies achieved and maintained air supremacy, which meant that the Germans were unable to make observations of the preparations underway in Britain and were unable to interfere via bomber attacks. [205] Infrastructure for transport in France was severely disrupted by Allied bombers and the French Resistance, making it difficult for the Germans to bring up reinforcements and supplies. [206] Some of the opening bombardment was off-target or not concentrated enough to have any impact, [161] but the specialised armour worked well except on Omaha, providing close artillery support for the troops as they disembarked onto the beaches. [207] Indecisiveness and an overly complicated command structure on the part of the German high command were also factors in the Allied success. [208]

                    At Omaha Beach, parts of the Mulberry harbour are still visible, and a few of the beach obstacles remain. A memorial to the US National Guard sits at the location of a former German strongpoint. Pointe du Hoc is little changed from 1944, with the terrain covered with bomb craters and most of the concrete bunkers still in place. The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial is nearby, in Colleville-sur-Mer. [209] A museum about the Utah landings is located at Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, and there is one dedicated to the activities of the US airmen at Sainte-Mère-Église. Two German military cemeteries are located nearby. [210]

                    Pegasus Bridge, a target of the British 6th Airborne, was the site of some of the earliest action of the Normandy landings. The bridge was replaced in 1994 by one similar in appearance, and the original is now housed on the grounds of a nearby museum complex. [211] Sections of Mulberry Harbour B still sit in the sea at Arromanches, and the well-preserved Longues-sur-Mer battery is nearby. [212] The Juno Beach Centre, opened in 2003, was funded by the Canadian federal and provincial governments, France, and Canadian veterans. [213] The British Normandy Memorial above Gold Beach was designed by the architect Liam O'Connor and opened in 2021. [214]

                    The History of Covered Bridges in America

                    There were more than 12,000 covered bridges built in the United States over the past two and a half centuries, with about 3,500 of them being located in Ohio. However, the most recent count of existing covered bridges in the United States, which was done in 2018, showed that less than one thousand of them were still standing.

                    The first known covered bridge to be built in the United States was the Permanent Bridge in Philadelphia. Constructed in 1805, it spans the Schuykill River and lasted well beyond the estimated forty years that the architect suggested. It was finally removed in 1850 to allow a new bridge to be constructed there that was more appropriate for accommodating railroad tracks.

                    Most covered bridges in the United States were built between 1820 and 1900, with the highest concentration of construction being conducted between 1825 and 1875. The longest covered bridge ever built in the United States was built across the Susquehanna River in 1814. At 5,960 feet long, it was washed away during the flooding of 1832.

                    Some of the oldest covered bridges in the nation are the 1825 Hyde Hall and Hassenplug bridges in New York and Pennsylvania, the 1820 Haverhill-Bath bridge in New Hampshire, and the 1829 Roberts bridge in Ohio.

                    The mid-1800s brought cheaper versions of wrought and cast iron to the world, and the trusses of covered bridges began to be built with this metal instead of wood. Architects found that the metal trusses did not need to be protected from the elements like the wood ones did, and so the coverings on the bridges were no longer necessary elements of the construction. Also, with higher traffic using the bridges, most people did not want to wait their turn to use a single lane bridge, and so bridge construction moved away toward covered one-lane bridges and to uncovered two-lane bridges.

                    The United States is not the only place in North America that has covered bridges. Canada also has them. But, like in the United States, changing times have greatly reduced the number of them that were once in Canada. There were about a thousand covered bridges in Quebec alone in 1900. Since 1969, the number of covered bridges that still exist in the entire Canadian nation went from about four hundred to under two hundred.

                    Compared to the United States, Canada was relatively late to the game in getting covered bridges into their country. The greatest number of covered bridges in Canada were constructed in the 1930s, far after the United States had stopped building them at all. The initial design of Canadian covered bridges was quite varied, but they standardized by about 1905 to the Town Quebecois variety, which was a variation on the lattice truss design that the town of Ithiel patented in 1820.

                    About five hundred of these Town Quebecois covered bridges were built between 1900 and 1950. The last covered bridge known to have been built in Canada was constructed in 1958 in Lebel Sur Quevillon in Quebec. The province of Quebec currently has eighty-two covered bridges, which includes the province’s longest covered bridge, the Felix Gabriel Marchand Bridge.

                    Canada can also boast being the home to the current longest covered bridge in the world. This is the Hartland Bridge in New Brunswick. New Brunswick had about four hundred covered bridges in 1900, but now has fifty-eight in the entire province.

                    Because they are romantic in nature and appearance, covered bridges have appeared, and even played important, central roles, in some modern works of fiction. Probably the best known of these is the 1992 novel, The Bridges of Madison County. This book highlighted the Cedar Covered Bridge, a real bridge which has since been damaged by arson (in 2002, a decade after the novel was released) a replica of the bridge was established where the damaged bridge once was, and the replica was damaged (again, by arson) in 2017.

                    Other works of fiction to feature covered bridges in America include the Edgar Allan Poe poem Never Bet the Devil Your Head, the Joe Hill novel NOS4A2 (where a character uses a covered bridge called The Shorter Way to teleport across vast distances), and the opening sequence from the 1980s TV series Tales from the Darkside (this sequence features the Diehls Covered Bridge in Pennsylvania). Covered bridges are also mentioned as plot points in the movies The Need for Speed, Beetlejuice, and Funny Farm.

                    Early covered bridges in America were often owned by companies or private people, and they charged others to cross them. Today, most existing covered bridges in America are owned by cities, counties, and townships (with preservation efforts being spotty, depending on the political climate and wishes of the local residents at any given time in history) and people can travel across them for free, though a few are still owned privately.

                    The romantic appeal of covered bridges is a modern phenomenon. In the past, they were viewed as simply utilitarian. But, since people began moving away from farm life and rural areas, and into the bustling cities, the often pastorally located covered bridges began to look like peaceful, quaint images of the past — a past many were beginning to forget. They have an old-fashioned, rural feel to them, and quite a few of the existing one’s today are located near bed and breakfasts, grist and flour mills, tiny historic churches, and lazily meandering creeks and streams. They are, quite literally, picture postcard perfect (though some covered bridges are located in urban areas next to newer steel bridges, this is not the norm).

                    Understandably, there are plenty of fans of covered bridges. Thus, even when cities and towns are not on board with preserving them, covered bridge lovers sometimes band together to do it themselves, appealing to other fans of the bridges to help them keep the bridges strong and standing. Some of the best known covered bridge preservation groups include the National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges (in Worcester, Massachusetts), the Indiana Covered Bridge Society, and the Ohio Historic Bridge Association. Most bridge preservation societies and groups are located east of the Mississippi because the new, steel bridge-building technologies were the preferred bridge building methods by the time the western part of the country became settled by the descendants of European immigrants. The one exception to this bridge society rule is the Oregon Covered Bridge Society (located, as one would expect, in Oregon).

                    The state of Kentucky is the only state known to have a statewide commitment to restore and protect its covered bridges. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has restored ten covered bridges in the state so far. One of these was the Switzer Covered Bridge, which was broken by flooding a few years ago. The bridge, which is one hundred forty-two years old, broke off of its abutments and floated downstream on the Elkhorn Creek about one hundred yards. A concrete bridge then locked onto the bridge and held it steady until the floodwaters subsided. It also kept most of it above water. Because of this, only about ten percent of the bridge was damaged, and the state was able to successfully restore it.

                    When covered bridges are restored, the native and original timbers of their construction are used whenever possible, to help the bridge keep its authenticity. While some people may believe that today’s covered bridges are antique and delicate, and therefore should be looked at and admired, rather than used, this is not actually true. Much like a muscle, covered bridges have a “use it or lose it” character to them. Interestingly, covered bridges are in much better condition when they are used. With wooden bridges, the compression, tension, and flexing that comes from being used actually keeps the wood from becoming stiff and brittle a used covered bridge stays supple and safe.

                    While most covered bridges are not part of the national highway system because they do not meet modern safety standards for roads, plenty of cities and towns allow them to be used for vehicular traffic. A handful of places limit them to pedestrian traffic only, because of safety concerns. It all depends on the city or town one is in in the United States as to whether or not one can drive across a covered bridge, or must only walk across it.

                    There are bridge festivals held across the country by fans of covered bridges, to bring awareness to the need to preserve them, and simply to celebrate them. The top biggest and best-known bridge festivals in the United States are in Washington County, PA Switzer, KY Ashtabula County, Ohio Parke County, IN and Columbia-Montour County, PA.

                    The festival in Parke County, Indiana is the largest covered bridge festival in the nation, being conducted each October in a county that bills itself as the Covered Bridge Capital of the World. The county may be correct in that estimation. Parke County has thirty-two covered bridges, each of which is rich with history and stories about the people, industries, and weather that have affected them over the centuries. Most of the county’s covered bridges were built between 1856 and 1920.

                    Most of the covered bridge festivals in the United States celebrate covered bridges that are bordering on being ancient (mostly because there are very few covered bridges in this country that can be considered new). Most of the covered bridges in this country that can be considered new are replicas or replacements for older ones that have been damaged or swept away.

                    Construction on covered bridges has gone way down since the 1990s, even in replacements and restorations. This is because they no longer serve the needs of most of the nation’s roads. There are people who are committed to keeping the nation’s covered bridge history intact, though, and they are making sure the remaining bridges are protected. This way, the pure beauty and charm of these bridges are sure to be protected for generations to come.

                    Landing Road Bridge Whakatāne: Basic Facts & History

                    1. The first bridge over the Whakatāne River was built in 1910 and was located where Awatapu Drive now crosses over the Awatapu lagoon. The lagoon used to be part of the river until the river was diverted.

                    2. Construction of the current Landing Road bridge was completed in 1961. Approval for construction followed successful lobbying of the Ministry of Transport by what was then the Whakatane Borough Council (1917-1976).

                    3. The Landing Road bridge was constructed when Whakatāne’s population was less than half that of today and traffic density probably a quarter of today’s.

                    4. The current Landing Road bridge is owned and managed by NZTA as part of SH30.

                    5. Whakatāne Borough Council partly funded the Landing Road bridge but the Lion’s share of the money came from central government after intense lobbying by the Whakatane Borough Council.

                    6. The bridge piles were damaged in the 1987 Edgecumbe earthquake (see below).

                    7. As of the present NZTA have no current plans to upgrade, widen or otherwise improve the bridge.

                    8. The only other crossing of the river is the Pekatahi Bridge which is a single lane affair. It used to be a road and rail bridge but is now just traffic.

                    9. The Borough Council and now District Council has been talking about the second bridge since the 1970s.

                    10. Traffic studies were conducted in 1980, 1995, 1996, 2004, 2002, 2007 and 2008.

                    11. The second bridge first appeared in the Long Term Plan of 2006 with a budget of $21.6M. It has since periodically disappeared and reappeared. In the most recent LTP there is no talk about a 2nd bridge.

                    Edgecombe Earthquake, 1987

                    Following the Edgecombe Earthquake of 1987 a liquefaction-induced spreading resulted in a 1.5m of horizontal surface displacement. Soil mounded behind the piers on the true left bank of the Whakatāne River caused an apparent passive failure. Preliminary estimates based on CPT data show a passive load of about 500kN per pier, which is of the same order as the collapse load of the raked-pile foundation. Thus, extensive site investigation, laboratory testing and analysis was undertaken to make an improved estimate of the lateral loads.

                    Why is a 2nd Bridge Necessary?

                    1. The bridge represents the only crossing of the river for the 22,000 people that live in the township which is a major commercial hub for the district. In the event of a catastrophic even such as the Edgecumbe Earthquake evacuation of the town will be difficult.

                    2. Traffic flow is heavy and it is not unusual for traffic to be banked up as far as Domain Road and Francis Street.

                    3. A boat harbor has recently been approved to be located on the northern bank of the river just upstream of the bridge. This is likely to significantly increase congestion on the bridge and approaches.

                    The landing beach

                    The area code-named Sword Beach occupied an 8-km (5-mile) stretch of the French coastline from Lion-sur-Mer on the west to the city of Ouistreham, at the mouth of the Orne River, on the east. The area was dotted with vacation homes and tourist establishments located behind a seawall. It was also approximately 15 km (9 miles) north of the hub city of Caen. All major roads in this sector of the Norman countryside ran through Caen, and it was a key city to both the Allies and the Germans for transportation and maneuver purposes.

                    The Germans had fortified the area with relatively light defenses consisting of beach obstacles and fortified emplacements in the sand dunes. For the most part, however, the defense of the beach was anchored on 75-mm guns located at the coastal town of Merville, some 8 km (5 miles) to the east across the Orne River estuary, and on bigger 155-mm guns located some 32 km (20 miles) farther east at Le Havre. A few miles inland from the beach were 88-mm guns capable of supporting the machine guns and mortars that were placed in the dunes and villas and that constituted the Germans’ first line of defense. There were also antitank ditches and mines as well as huge concrete walls blocking the streets of the towns. Elements of the German 716th Infantry Division—in particular, the 736th and 125th regiments—along with forces of the 21st Panzer Division were in the vicinity and were capable of participating in defensive or offensive operations. To the east, across the Dives River, lay the 711th Division.

                    Sword Beach lay in the area of landing beaches assigned to the British Second Army, under Lieutenant General Miles Dempsey. It was divided by Allied planners into four sectors named (from west to east) Oboe, Peter, Queen, and Roger. Elements of the South Lancashire Regiment were to assault Peter sector on the right, the Suffolk Regiment the centre in Queen sector, and the East Yorkshire Regiment Roger sector on the left. The objective of the 3rd Division was to push across Sword Beach and pass through Ouistreham to capture Caen and the important Carpiquet airfield nearby. Attached commandos, under Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat, had the mission of fighting their way off the beach and pushing some 5 km (3 miles) inland toward the Orne River and Caen Canal bridges, where they were to link up with the airborne forces.

                    The invading forces landed at 0725 hours on D-Day and were greeted with moderate fire. They were able to put out suppressing fire, and by 0800 hours the fighting was mostly inland. By 1300 the commandos had achieved their most important objective: they had linked up with airborne troops at the bridges over the Orne waterways. On the right flank the British had been unable to link up with Canadian forces from Juno Beach, and at 1600 hours tank forces and mechanized infantry units from the 21st Panzer Division launched the only serious German counterattack of D-Day. The 192nd Panzer Grenadier Regiment actually reached the beach at 2000 hours, but the division’s 98 panzers were halted by antitank weapons, air strikes, and Allied tanks themselves. The counterattack was stopped.

                    Bridges Takes the First Step Into Integration

                    The school board made attempts to discourage Bridges from attending the new school by delaying her admittance until November 14, which was already a few months into the academic year. Once she finally began to attend, however, she faced racism and backlash from all directions. Angry crowds protested outside the school, demanding that segregation remain enforced. The rioters — one of whom terrorized Ruby by holding up a Black baby doll in a miniature coffin — screamed slurs and threw things at the 6 year old and her mother in attempts to intimidate and threaten them into not returning to the school.

                    The violence was so considerable that members of the U.S. Marshals Service — federal law enforcement officers working under the Attorney General — began escorting Bridges from her home to William Frantz every day for protection. She ended up becoming the only Black student attending William Frantz two other children who’d been admitted had stayed at their old school, and the other three students had been transferred to a different all-white school.

                    Landing Bridges - History

                    By Christopher Miskimon

                    Lieutenant Colonel Ben Vandervoort’s 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment (2/505) was fighting its way through the Dutch town of Nijmegen on September 19, 1944. As he observed, two of his rifle companies worked their way up a pair of city blocks, supported by British tanks that eagerly zipped down alleys and side streets to assist their American allies with cannon and machine-gun fire.

                    The goal was to fight through to the town’s bridges. The infantry pressed forward, ignoring their flanks. If the enemy appeared there, they sent a tank back to deal with them. Vandervoort’s men took the high ground, moving to the upper floors of the local houses and advancing rooftop to rooftop. He recalled it as chaos.

                    “Nijmegen wasn’t all that neat and tidy,” Vandervoort remembered. “In the labyrinth of houses and brick-walled gardens, the fighting deteriorated into confusing, face-to-face, kill-or-be-killed showdowns between small momentarily isolated groups and individuals. Friend and foe mixed in deadly proximity. Germans would appear where you least expected them. You fired fast and straight or you were dead.”

                    As conceived, Operation Market Garden was simple and bold. A series of airborne landings would pave the way for an armored thrust straight through German lines and across the Lower Rhine River in Holland, opening the way for the Allies to strike deep into the heart of the Third Reich. Success could bring the war to a faster conclusion by outflanking the prepared defenses of the Siegfried Line. The plan required seizing a series of bridges, the last one over the Rhine at Arnhem. The first part of the plan, Market, was the airborne landings using three divisions. The paratroopers would seize bridges and vital terrain and hold them until the ground forces, code named Garden, advanced through their positions and to Arnhem. The ground forces were spearheaded by the British XXX Corps, heavy in tanks and mechanized firepower. The plan was not universally liked by the Allied Powers their logistical system was strained, and this plan gave supply priority to the British over the American armies to the south. However, if it worked there was a real chance to shorten the war, so the Allied supreme commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower approved the plan despite the risk.

                    In the event, that risk did not pay off. The three airborne divisions landed with the American 101st closest to the front, the American 82nd in the middle, and the British 1st Airborne farthest into the German lines nearest the Rhine and Arnhem. Unfortunately, Allied intelligence failed to detect a pair of German SS panzer divisions recently transferred to the area for reconstitution. Heavy, desperate fighting ensued, and ultimately the Arnhem Bridge did indeed prove to be “a bridge too far.” However, the final bridges the Allied advance reached, those over the Waal River at the Dutch town of Nijmegen, were the focus of intense combat and courageous acts of bravery by paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne and soldiers of XXX Corps.

                    By late 1944, Brig. Gen. James Gavin’s 82nd Airborne was well on its way to establishing its reputation as one of America’s hardest fighting divisions. Operation Market Garden was the unit’s fourth combat jump, with previous airborne landings in Sicily, Italy, and Normandy. The division had three parachute infantry regiments— the 504th, 505th, and 508th—along with the 325th Glider Infantry and three artillery battalions using pack howitzers that could be air-dropped in bundles or landed in gliders. These formations would parachute into drop zones (DZs) generally to the south of Nijmegen and seize ground around the towns of Grave and Groesbeek as well as move against the larger town with its bridges over the Waal River. Once in control of its objectives, the division was to defend them until XXX Corps arrived to relieve them.

                    Airborne troopers roll a 57mm gun aboard a glider in preparation for the airborne phase of Operation Market Garden in September 1944.

                    Lieutenant General Brian Horrocks’ XXX Corps was the spearhead for the British Second Army. During Market Garden the corps’ lead unit was the Guards Armoured Division led by Maj. Gen. A.H.S. Adair. It was equipped with a mix of armored vehicles including Sherman and Cromwell tanks, Daimler armored cars, and half-tracks. There was also ample artillery and air support available. The XXX Corps’ greatest handicap was the single road it was forced to travel down due to the wet and often boggy terrain, which kept the vehicles close to the road for fear of becoming mired. This made it easier for the defending Germans to target the British column.

                    Nijmegen was significant to the advance primarily due to its two bridges over the Waal River, which was 400 yards wide. One was a road bridge, the Waalbrug, and the other a railroad span, the Spoorbrug. Early in the battle these bridges were lightly defended by second-rate troops, but the German command quickly reinforced Nijmegen with experienced SS troops. There were a number of other German units in the area, including reserve, training, and police formations. Most of the German units were understrength and underequipped, but there were enough veterans to facilitate the hasty formation of battle groups known as kampfgruppen (KG) to improve the defense.

                    The airborne operation began on Sunday, September 17, 1944, and in most respects went well for the 82nd Airborne Division. Most of the troops landed close to their assigned landing zones, making it easier for units to assemble and move on their objectives. Colonel Reuben Tucker’s 504th quickly seized most of its bridges over the Maas-Waal Canal along with the Grave Bridge, which it attacked from both ends at once, resulting in a fast, relatively easy victory. Colonel William Ekman’s 505th dropped south of the town of Groesbeek and rapidly moved onto the nearby heights. Occupation of the heights brought a key defensive terrain feature under Allied control. The paratroopers there could protect against any enemy moves out of the nearby Reichswald, or National Forest. The 508th, commanded by Colonel Roy Lindquist, parachuted in south of Nijmegen and also seized nearby high ground and set up solid defensive positions. However, they did not move up the riverbank into Nijmegen to take the bridges. This would have severe consequences for the later fighting, although for unknown reasons the taking of the bridges was not assigned as high a priority as hindsight proved it should have been. The chance to capture the bridges before the Germans had adequate defenses prepared simply slipped away.

                    Initially, the Nijmegen area was populated by numerous German rear-echelon units and a few weak combat formations. This was exemplified by the fact that while 82nd Airborne captured only 156 prisoners the first day, they were from 28 different units. There were almost no prepared defenses within the town. German troops there included an NCO school company, a mixed antiaircraft unit of 20mm and 88mm guns, and two companies of reserve policemen and railroad guards. On September 17, these troops were reinforced by KG Henke, led by Oberst (Colonel) Fritz Henke, who normally led a parachute regiment. His force of four reserve companies combined with the existing garrison for a total of about 750 soldiers. It was too small a force to stave off a concerted attack by the American paratroopers, but more help was coming.

                    Later on September 17, the 10th SS Panzer Division “Frundsberg” was ordered to move from Arnhem to the Nijmegen area and attack the Allied airborne forces before they could consolidate their positions. They were to seize the bridges and prevent the paratroopers from linking with the advancing British. Several kampfgruppen were dispatched to Nijmegen to hold the bridges there. The first was KG Reinhold, set up on the north side of the Waal River, the opposite side from the attacking Allies.

                    British General Frederick “Boy” Browning, left, overall commander of the airborne phase of Operation Market Garden, chats with Brigadier General James M. Gavin, the young commander of the American 82nd Airborne Division.

                    Three more battle groups set up on the south side of the Waal, guarding the approaches to both bridges a little more than 1,000 yards separated their southern spans. KG Henke, already arrived, set up around the south end of the Spoorbrug rail bridge. KG Euling took positions at the south end of the Waalbrug road bridge in a park known as the Hunnerpark, an old fort named the Valkhof, and a traffic roundabout leading to the bridge. Digging in between these two battlegroups was KG Baumgartel. The Germans had more than 3,000 troops between them, a mix of panzergrenadiers, reserve troops, combat engineers, and gunners for the hastily gathered antiaircraft and antitank guns. The division’s remaining artillery set up on the north side of the bridge while forward observers were placed in the front lines. Many, though not all, of the German troops were experienced Waffen-SS men. The German commanders ordered the bridges prepared for demolition but delayed destroying them in the hope they could be used to mount counterattacks later.

                    On the morning of September 19, the lead tanks of XXX Corps reached the 82nd Airborne and quickly moved toward Nijmegen. By now the German reinforcements were firmly in place, and it was apparent it would take more than the paratroopers’ light weapons to punch through the enemy lines south of the bridges. Generals Horrocks, Adair, and Gavin met to plan the next moves along with British General Frederick “Boy” Browning, the overall airborne commander. Gavin was still concerned about the thin American line near Groesbeek but was confident he could spare his reserve battalion, 2/505, commanded by Lt. Col. Vandervoort, for an attack on Nijmegen. The generals discussed the situation and decided 2/505 would join with elements of the Guards Armoured Division for a joint attack against the German defenses south of the bridges.

                    Two task forces were formed, one for each bridge. The eastern group was made up of Companies E and F of 2/505, most of No. 3 Squadron, 2nd Grenadier Guards, an armored unit, and No. 2 Company, 1st Grenadier Guards, a motorized infantry battalion. They would make an assault against the defenders of the road bridge. The western task force, which would attack the rail bridge’s defenses, included Company D 2/505, five Sherman tanks from No 3 Squadron, and a platoon of British infantry from the 1st Grenadier Guards. Reconnaissance troops from the 2nd Battalion, Household Cavalry Regiment (2/HCR) were also in the area. Both task forces had fighters from the local Dutch resistance to guide them through the narrow streets to their objectives. Dutch fighters also infiltrated the bridge area and several times cut wires to the demolition charges the Germans had placed. The Dutch also believed the Germans placed a switchboard for these demolitions in the town post office.

                    The three regiments of the 82nd Airborne Division parachuted into drop zones in the Netherlands and advanced to the town of Nijmegen, where they found the bridges across the River Waal heavily defended.

                    Vandervoort’s paratroopers linked up with their British counterparts and prepared to attack. Vandervoort was proud of his mostly veteran men and later stated, “Except for a few handpicked replacements, yet to be bloodied in combat, they were aggressive, skilled warriors. Their marksmanship, battle reflexes and survival instincts were finely tuned by being shot at—close and often. There were fraternal bonds between the battalion officers and men, especially the lieutenants. They were outstanding. They were raised to be last in the chow line and first out the door in the jump line.”

                    The entire force assembled at the Sionhof Hotel south of Nijmegen. At 1:45 pm, the column set out northeast up the Groesbeeksweg road toward Nijmegen. Two dozen Dutch resistance fighters accompanied them. They said there would be no resistance until about 600 yards south of the bridges, but the German positions were strong and included antitank guns. Nearer to the town the force would split into two parts for the final approach. Soon, however, the column was besieged by a different force: crowds of Dutch civilians who came out to greet the Allied soldiers as liberators.

                    Lieutenant James Coyle, a platoon leader in E Company, recalled it looked like a victory parade. “The Dutch people lined the roads in crowds that cheered us on our way.” Company D First Sergeant John Rabig was riding a tank with his men and recalled the adoration of the civilians as well, though they also provided a warning of sorts. “Dutch people were crowded along the sides of the road. The nearer we got to Nijmegen, the fewer people there were. Soon the people just disappeared and we were smart enough to know the shooting would soon start—and it did.”

                    The western task force split off toward its objective. Vandervoort stayed with the eastern group that captured the post office, which turned out to be empty. This made sense because it would have been foolish for the Germans to set up the explosives switchboard on the south side of the bridges. Along the way they were stopped by a Dutch woman who turned over a recently shot-down British pilot she was hiding in her house. She turned the flyer over to the Americans, even writing down the names of the men she gave him to. Afterward, the column moved on.

                    As the Allied attack got underway in earnest, reconnaissance troops from 2/HCR deployed to observe the flanks and gain observation over the river. They rode in small, nimble Daimler armored cars armed with a small 2-pounder (40mm) cannon. One of the British officers, a Captain Cooper, found himself under fire near some American paratroopers, who asked him to use his vehicle’s guns to support them. A pair of dug-in 88mm guns were firing away from across the river, so Cooper had his men return fire with their 2-pounders, driving the German gun crews away from their weapons. Their success was short lived, however, as a well-camouflaged 88mm opened fire from beyond the range of the diminutive 2-pounders. Cooper determined the gun’s position on his map and sent the grid coordinates to the Royal Artillery, just then coming into action. The very first salvo of six 25-pounder shells found the target, silencing it.

                    The Germans responded with a barrage of their own 105mm artillery. Cooper left his vehicle to take cover in an American trench. The shelling went on for an hour and a half, leaving Cooper deaf and covered in dust. He recalled, “This sort of shelling is perfectly bloody and gives you a splitting headache…. Every now and again the spandaus opened up from the other side of the river and bullets whistled over our heads. These American troops are splendid types— extremely brave, cheerful and indifferent to the worst. The bridge, an enormous, girdered affair, has been wired for blowing, which the ‘underground’ have twice cut, and is covered by every conceivable German weapon.”

                    As the reconnaissance troops dueled with the German guns, the task forces attacked. Lieutenant J.J. Smith of E Company was one of the first men in the eastern force’s attack. As he moved forward, German antitank guns opened a withering fire. “The Sherman tanks that were leading the attack ran into enemy resistance and were receiving extremely heavy fire from 88s…. The enemy immediately placed small arms and mortar fire on the lead elements of the infantry, which was 1st Platoon of Company E. All the mortar fire and artillery fire … came from this side of the bridge and it seemed to be observed fire. We later determined this to be true as we discovered snipers and enemy observers had radios and seemed to be in communication with the guns firing.” The British tanks, despite the incoming 88s, immediately began shooting into the nearby buildings, peppering the area with fire.

                    Tanks of the British XXX Corps advance along the narrow highway toward Nijmegen, where Allied troops fought the Germans doggedly defending bridges over the Waal River.

                    The Germans laid their defenses well. Camouflaged antitank guns covered all the intersections, and MG-42 machine guns, with the distinctive ripping sound of their high rate of fire, were set up in nests in houses around the guns so they could support each other. The lead British tank was quickly knocked out, along with one of the German antitank guns. Two more Shermans were soon hit as well, putting both of them out of the fight. The American paratroopers quickly fanned out into the surrounding buildings it was suicide to fight in the open streets because the German fire was too heavy. The British infantry, bringing up the rear of the column, smoothly moved off to one side to attack the Germans on their flank, but interlocking machine-gun fire stopped them as well.

                    One of the Guard’s infantry platoon commanders, Lieutenant Dawson, found a house from which he could overlook the German defenders. He quickly brought up all the automatic weapons he had and directed their fire onto the enemy. A large number were killed and wounded, but one of their 88mm guns managed to return fire, scoring direct hits on the house. This forced the British troops to evacuate before it collapsed.

                    The Americans were also aggressively attacking. Most of the buildings were two-story brick and stone row houses, usually with attics and many with flat roofs. The paratroopers took advantage of this, moving from rooftop to rooftop and placing machine guns in the upper floors to cover the advance. Any German who exposed himself was greeted with machine-gun fire. The Guards’ Shermans went with them, adding their own machine guns to the fray. These fire teams supported other paratroopers, who used alleys, backyards, and windows to stay out of the line of enemy fire and turn their flanks. At times they would knock holes in the interior walls of homes and push forward without having to go outside.

                    The aggressive young airborne lieutenants controlled the action, keeping the assault squads on line. As soon as those men got into the targeted buildings, the support teams would join them to secure the houses and get ready to push on to the next one. Once a few houses in a block were taken, they would start bursting through walls to take the adjacent structures until an entire block was in their hands then the process would be repeated on the next block. Private Carl Beck was a rifleman in Company E’s 1st Platoon. “We went into houses from the front and out the back, over the fence and into another house. Then out the front door, go across the street and into the front of another house.”

                    Lieutenant Colonel Vandervoort watched his men with pride and awe as they advanced toward the bridge. He was particularly impressed with the way they worked so closely alongside the British Guardsmen. “For soldiers of different Allied armies, it was amazing how beautifully the tankers and troopers teamed together.” All of them were veteran soldiers, and Vandervoort credited the Guards commander, Lt. Col. Edward H. Goulburn, with having trust and faith in his tank commanders to move off on their own to support the Americans. The tanks moved up alleys and through yards to fire on enemy positions. It took a lot of initiative and skill to stay together and not let either tanks or infantrymen expose themselves by getting too far ahead of the other. Still, the Germans fought with similar courage, and despite the best efforts of the Allied task force, the attack was halted short of the bridge as darkness arrived.

                    An Allied Sherman tank sits in the distance in this photo of a war-ravaged Nijmegen street. The Germans fought desperately in defense of the bridges over the Waal at Nijmegen, and one soldier, his body covered with a poncho, has paid with his life.

                    The western task force had its own ordeal. The smaller force worked its way through the narrow streets, skillfully guided by the Dutch resistance, until it was only 200 yards from the southern end of the railroad bridge. With dusk approaching, the column attacked immediately, hoping to storm through before the coming night impeded them. As the Shermans joined the infantry in the assault, two of them were knocked out by accurate fire from antitank guns on the other side of the river. The infantry took heavy fire from German troops dug in on the railroad embankment and in several houses around it. It was a tough strongpoint well supported with artillery fire, and the Anglo-American attack stalled. The infantry fell back a short distance, took cover in a number of houses, and dug in, assuming they would be counterattacked during the night. This was a common German tactic, and the experienced troops expected fast counterattacks. The eastern task force also expected a night action and prepared for it.

                    That night, however, they were gratefully disappointed. Even the SS panzergrenadiers were rattled by the sudden appearance of tanks and infantry, since they thought there were still more German troops ahead of them. During the night they set fire to several houses to provide light in case of a renewed Allied attack, and the troops around the railroad bridge pulled back, shrinking their perimeter. The Germans were still determined to hold the south ends of both bridges but they were unwilling to advance and risk cutting off their only avenue of escape across those bridges. September 19 ended in stalemate.

                    Once General Gavin learned of the setback, he created a new plan. If they continued attacking the bridges from the southern end, it would take time, and the Germans would probably destroy the bridges rather than lose them to the Allies. Gavin knew the best way to take a bridge was from both ends at once, so he decided to put a force across the river and assault the northern ends of the bridges while the task forces on the southern end continued putting pressure on the defenders there. He took the plan to Generals Browning and Horrocks. Browning approved the idea, but the airborne troops had no boats available, and the Germans had stripped the river of all local craft.

                    Horrocks, however, had 32 boats in his engineer units and ordered them forward, giving them priority to move up along the narrow roadway XXX Corps was using for its advance. The boats were supposed to arrive at 8 am on the 20th, but traffic jams along the road delayed their arrival until 2 pm. Gavin wanted to start the crossing in the morning, but the late arrival of the boats meant the crossing had to go at 3 pm.

                    The plan involved sending a battalion across the river downstream from the bridges. Major Julian Cook’s 3/504 was available, recently relieved of defensive duties by troops from XXX Corps. H and I Companies would go in the first wave, accompanied by a few men from Headquarters Company, including Major Cook. The second wave would bring G Company and the rest of the headquarters troops. While 3/504 crossed the river, 2/504 would provide covering fire from the south bank. The 376th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion would also support the crossing with its pack howitzers, joined by all available British artillery, more of which arrived each hour. The artillery would fire a 10-minute preparatory bombardment on the German defenses. Afterward, fighter-bombers would strafe and bomb the enemy for 10 more minutes, from 2:45 to 2:55. As soon as the planes were finished, the artillery and mortars would fire smoke shells to cover the crossing. Tanks of the 2nd Irish Guards would also give fire support and fill any gaps in the smoke screen with their own smoke rounds.

                    Once on the far bank, the paratroopers would have to cross up to 800 yards of open field to an embankment with a dike road atop it. There were German defensive positions along this dike, and once there part of 3/504 would establish blocking positions and patrols to the north and west while the rest attacked eastward toward the bridges. They would reach the rail bridge first and move on to the road bridge. Meanwhile, the task forces on the south sides of the bridges would attack in force to break through, enabling the combined Allied forces to capture them. It was risky plan, but the American paratroopers understood the dire straits their British counterparts were in at Arnhem. A short, intense assault would incur heavy casualties but save lives in the long run.

                    The task forces renewed their attacks on the south side of the Waal on the morning of September 20, while 3/504 waited for the boats to arrive. They were methodical, gradually tightening the cordon around the southern approaches to the bridges. At about 2:30 pm, as the tanks were moving into position to support the crossing, the trucks bearing the boats arrived. One was hit by German fire as it approached the riverbank, reducing the number of boats to 26.

                    Major Cook’s men realized how risky the river assault would be, but once they laid eyes on the boats the situation became even more serious. The craft were known as “Goatley” boats, collapsible affairs made of wood and canvas, weighing 200 pounds and about 19 feet long. Each could carry 13 troops with three engineers. The engineers had to assemble them, and the paratroopers helped as the time to launch the attack grew near. Each boat should have had eight oars, but some had only two the paratroopers would have to row using rifle butts.

                    The artillery preparation went off as planned, and soon it was time to go. Cook and his men rushed down to the riverbank, manhandling the boats into the water and climbing aboard. Smoke covered the far bank as the tanks and mortars sent more smoke rounds sailing overhead.

                    Captain Moffatt Burriss commanded I Company. He and his unit hid behind a berm most of the day and had yet to see the river they would cross. “We were not shown the river before crossing. We waited the other side of the levee most of the day. Had we seen what we were expected to cross in daylight, we probably wouldn’t have done it! I still wonder how any of us survived the crossing.”

                    The Germans contested the assault as soon as they perceived it. Lieutenant Thomas Pitt watched the air support roar in. “Two Spitfires [actually Typhoons] came over and started to strafe the opposite banks … where the Krauts were dug in. About the second pass, the Germans got one of the Spitfires and the other one went home. So that was the end of the air cover.” Pitt also watched British tanks move up and start firing smoke and high-explosive rounds. “They opened fire and they put a lot of iron down in a short period, but in a couple of minutes the counterbattery came.” German artillery from the north side of the river began answering the Allied attack. Luckily for the British tankers, most of the 88mm guns were sited for antiaircraft work and could not bear on the tanks as they used rubble around some factory buildings and a power station for cover.

                    The men in the boats paddled into the smoke covering the river. The Germans knew the smoke meant a crossing and poured fire into it using machine guns and 20mm flak guns along with the artillery. The paratroopers frantically paddled across the 400 yards of the river, aware of how vulnerable they were. Soon the smoke started clearing in the breeze, fully exposing them to enemy view. Incoming fire now poured in with even greater accuracy. The 20mm flak guns were particularly bad a single hit would blow a man’s body apart, showering blood and viscera. Halfway across, the boats were within mortar range and bombs showered down. One hit a boat directly, blowing it apart and leaving the survivors in the water, festooned with heavy ammunition and equipment. The other boats could not stop to help them.

                    Browning and Horrocks observed the crossing from the roof of the power station. They watched as boats were blown apart, sank, or drifted downstream with their occupants dead and dying. It was a horrible scene, but as they watched the survivors kept going. They paddled with rifle butts or used their helmets and kept as low as they could, desperately racing for the far shore. Suddenly, they were there. Boats grounded on the far bank, and paratroopers poured from them, running for the embankment. Only 13 boats reached the shore, but once they were empty the engineers pushed off and began paddling back through the torrent of steel and fire to pick up the next wave. Eleven made it back. Meanwhile, the tankers began spotting the deadly flak guns and targeted them most were emplaced in an old fortress called the Hof Van Holland.

                    Allied soldiers cross the road bridge over the Waal River at Nijmegen after the fierce fight with German defenders in the area. The burned-out vehicles in the foreground are evidence of the intensity of the battle.

                    On the north bank only 125 paratroopers were still able to fight, but they quickly formed into small groups and attacked the German defenders. The Americans were enraged they had endured utter hell crossing the Waal and seen many friends lost. Now they assaulted the dike with fury and rage. Captain Burriss ordered his men to shower the dike with grenades. A flurry of explosions thundered across the enemy-held embankment and broke their spirit. Paratroopers followed the blasts and tore into the defending Germans, some of whom were aged reservists and others teenage boys. Burriss recalled that the enraged paratroopers took no prisoners, even when Germans tried to surrender. Within 30 minutes the dike was in American hands.

                    Some paratroopers set up defenses along the dike while others, gradually being joined by the following waves, formed up to move on the bridges. Major Cook and a captain took over a group of 30 men and immediately moved against the rail bridge. They kept the enemy off balance by constantly attacking, keeping the pressure on until the enemy broke and ran. There were only five boats left after the final trip across, and the newly arrived paratroopers joined their comrades in the attack, fanning out toward the bridges and the remaining enemy strongpoints.

                    First Lieutenant James Magellas led a squad-sized group against the Hof Van Holland fort, which held the flak guns that had so decimated the paratroopers during the crossing. Magellas had lost half his platoon in their boat, which had been hit by mortar fire. He ordered his men to fire at the flak and machine guns until the German were suppressed, and then the Americans charged ahead, throwing grenades. This drove the Germans inside the fort, where they remained while Magellas and his men disabled the guns. The Germans would continue to resist the rest of the day until follow-on troops from 1/504 cleared the fort, taking 30 prisoners.

                    Other groups reached the Spoorbrug rail bridge and ran into stiff resistance, but each German strongpoint was taken in turn. A 19-man force led by Lieutenants Edward Sims and Richard LaRiviere reached the northern end of the bridge after neutralizing the last scattered enemy positions, only to find a new threat. About 500 Germans, those who remained of the defenders at the southern end of the bridge, were now moving across it. Having seen the success of the river assault, they realized their only avenue of escape was about to be cut off and chose to retreat before the paratroopers could consolidate their blocking positions.

                    American airborne troops patrol a street in Nijmegen shortly after the town was secured. A British soldier watches them as he crosses in the distance.

                    Captain Carl Kappel of H Company watched their desperate attacks. “These units made several counterattacks … which were easily dealt with…. Two German machine guns were mounted to sweep the long axis of the bridge and the German situation was now hopeless. One of the German prisoners who could understand English was ordered out on the bridge to tell the Germans to cross to the south side and surrender. He was shot by the Germans pinned on the bridge. They were again swept by machine-gun fire, and many leapt from the bridge, even though they were not over the river. None surrendered at this time.” The paratroopers even fired at enemy soldiers leaping from the bridge, trying to hit them in midair. Kappel finally ordered them to stop, as it was a waste of ammunition.

                    A total of 267 bodies were recovered from the bridge with many more lost below. Staff Sgt. David Rosencrantz recalled that while the fighting was shorter than Sicily, Salerno, and Anzio, “it was tougher and bloodier while it lasted.” The rail bridge was now firmly in Allied hands. LaRiviere left Sims to oversee the rail bridge while he and Captain Burriss set out toward the Waalbrug road bridge, clearing houses as they went. They were soon joined by Lieutenant Magellas and his men. All of them came under fire from troops on the bridge itself, but they battered their way onto the northern end despite being almost out of ammunition.

                    On the south end of the Waalbrug the Grenadier Guards and paratroopers saw the Americans on the other side and launched a concerted attack at 5:30 pm. They soon overran the last of the SS troops in the Hunnerpark and Valkhof, and a small force was dispatched to fight its way across the bridge and link up with the 504th men. No. 1 Troop of No.1 Squadron, 2nd Grenadier Guards set out led by Sergeant Peter Robinson. The squadron commander, Captain Lord Peter Harrington, would follow in his own tank along with a scout car carrying an engineer, Lieutenant A.C.G. Jones, who would check the bridge for explosives.

                    As they moved onto the bridge’s ramp, the crack of an 88mm gun sounded, and a round struck the pavement in front of the lead Sherman. It ricocheted into the tank, damaging it and knocking out the radio. As Robinson quickly reversed, two other Shermans spotted the muzzle flash and silenced the gun before it could do any more damage. Sergeant Robinson changed tanks, and the troops raced onto the bridge. The Germans opened fire with all they had, including panzerfaust antitank weapons fired by soldiers hiding among the bridge’s upper girders. The tankers elevated their coaxial machine guns and watched dead and wounded Germans tumble from their hiding places onto the pavement below.

                    At least five antitank guns on the north bank also opened fire. The British pushed ahead anyway and soon arrived at a concrete roadblock covered by another antitank gun. Robinson’s tank charged through, and his gunner, Guardsman Leslie Johnson, wrecked the enemy gun with three well-placed rounds. Some infantry broke cover and ran, only to be cut down by the tank’s machine guns. The British tanks were now across the bridge and roaring down the opposite ramp.

                    As Robinson advanced down the street, a German self-propelled gun appeared and opened fire. One of the rounds exploded nearby and blew off Robinson’s helmet, but gunner Johnson fired several rounds of his own, leaving the enemy vehicle burning. They went another three quarters of a mile, blasting German infantry fighting from a church and forcing them to retreat. Soon afterward, grenades from a nearby ditch hit Robinson’s tank, and he responded with his machine gun, firing a few rounds before realizing the men wore American helmets. He stopped shooting, and they linked up. Fortunately, no harm was done in the incident. Only his tank and one other made it this far the other two were knocked out on the bridge, though one later rejoined the troop.

                    On the bridge, Lieutenant Jones dashed around cutting wires and removing detonators despite enemy sniper fire. Some of his men arrived, and they continued the search, discovering 81 Germans hiding in compartments in the bridge piers. All of them were fortunate that day. The commander of 10th SS Panzer Division, General Heinz Harmel, watched the attack go in from a bunker upstream from the road bridge. That bunker held the demolition switchboard, and as he watched the British tanks race across the bridge in the waning daylight he ordered the Waalbrug blown just as the British reached the center span. Nothing happened, even when they tried again with the reserve circuits. No one is sure why, but many believe the wires were cut by a Dutch resistance fighter who died during the battle. Whatever the cause, two more bridges now belonged to the Allies.

                    Tragically, the effort made to seize the Nijmegen bridges came to nothing. The British paratroopers trapped near Arnhem were not rescued. The defenders were resisting too skillfully, and the attackers were hard pressed to maintain the required pace on the single narrow road. Arnhem proved to be the bridge too far, memorialized in books and film. The Nijmegen bridges, however, did prove within Allied grasp, but only through the extreme courage and sacrifice of a combined force of American paratroopers and British Guardsmen who were willing to risk everything to save fellow soldiers they had never met.

                    Author Christopher Miskimon is a regular contributor to WWII History. He writes the regular books column and is an officer in the Colorado National Guard’s 157th Regiment.

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