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While the "C" and "B" Squadron where having slowly slowly success the 14th Canadian Armoured Regiment (The Calgary Regiment) had done much to relieve the pressure on their infantry brigade. On 12 May 1944 a Canadian Captain called Hugh Antony Gualt Kingsmill developed a new experimental bailey bridge.He was a captain of the 1st Light Aid Detachment attached to 14th Canadian Armoured Division, working in conjunction with a Royal Engineer officer from 8th Indian Division. Captain Kingsmill had the great idea of building very quickly the Plymouth Bridge in a very unusual way. He constructed a bailey bridge well back from the river bank and carried it forward on two specially fitted sherman tanks, the first tank having the turret removed and being fitted with rollers to alow the free forward and backward movementn of the bridge. The secondn one was fitted with a bracket which supported the hind end od the bridge. The two tanks moved forward together, the front tank driving into the water while the second tank continuing to move forward, would slide the bridge forward untill it came to rewst on the far bank. The second tank would then disengage and the bridge would be ready to be used. Many experiment had already been done on the Volturno river, and they were all successful, but in this case the operation was very unluky. First the mist and smoke delayed the bringing of the briedging supplies, and then when the bridge and the two tanks were finaly ready, the first tank with the first part of the bridge bogged down in the soft ground. Working under continual heavy fire in totaly adverse conditions it took a while to put the bridge in the right position. By 9.50 a.m., covered by smoke and high esplosive fire the bridge was put in the right position the enemy were holding position only 250 yards from the bridging site and under such circumstances no other type of tank-bearing bridge could have been launched over a gap of 57 feet. Because of he contributed directly in the smashing of the Gustav Line, he was awarded with the Military Cross, the third most important award after the Victoria Cross for British or Commonweath officers.
Book our Second World War tour on the footsteps of the Canadians, and i will show you all the places described in the war reports, and i will tell you what Veterans told me, about their experience in Cassino and on the Gustav Line.
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