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17th Armored Engineer Battalion in World War 2

17th Engineers during World War 2

Phase I – Bridging the Rhine – 24 March 1945

For more information see the full article about the Treadway bridge across the ” Rhine” on  23 March 1945 near Spellen, Germany)


At Maastricht Company E began on intensive training program to orient the unit working with it in the organization for and construction of the tread way bridge, as Co. “C’, 202nd Engr C Bn had no previous experience with this type equipment. For six days (with Co. “A“ 202nd Engrs attached during the training but later released), all personnel of Co. “E” did what they could to share their knowhow of the tread way with the men who would work with these on the biggest job yet to confront them. Twice practice bridges were build across the Meuse under simulated combat conditions, using artificial moonlight and fog. An airplane reconnaissance trip of the Rhine site was made by Capt, James E. McAdams, CO of Co. “E”, and selected NCOs. Orders came to construct the bridge, and during the early hours of 24 March, with Capt. McAdams Coing ahead to make a ground reconnaissance of the far shore, the trucks moved up to the Rhine in the vicinity of Weser.

After arrival at the site a change in instructions ordered the building of rafts to ferry vehicles across. This  was done. Enemy small arms fire, which had been fairly strong when the group first arrived at the area, now began to diminish, but incoming artillery was arriving with more frequency. Construction of the bridge, nevertheless, started at 0835 and work progressed in a very satisfactory manner, the reward of meticulous planning and hard labour. Artillery fire caused 20 casualties before the last float was worked into place 7 hours later. At 1530 the bridge was opened to traffic a 1,112 foot span completed in less time than any ether bridge across the famed barrier.

Shortly afterwards, however, the bridge was endangered when a ferry loaded with a tank broke loose from its mooring upstream and at 1630 drifted into the bridge, sinking itself and destroying nine floats. Several sections of tread way went under water. The engineers rushed to the scene and used explosive to break the damaged part of the bridge loose for repair and replacement. Enemy planes strafed the workers. but by 0200, 25 March the bridge again was open to traffic.


(Edit 1: Article about Co E from Hell on Wheels June 13 1945; The newspaper was provided by Dave Ketchpaw. His father Technical Sergeant Gordon “Gordy” James Ketchpaw served in Company and worked on this crossing, read more about him here:  Technical Sergeant Gordon “Gordy” James Ketchpaw.)

Article about Co E from Hell on Wheels June 13 1945 Photo. Courtesy Dave Ketchpaw

Article about Co E from Hell on Wheels June 13 1945 Photo. Courtesy Dave Ketchpaw

Article about Co E from Hell on Wheels June 13 1945 Photo. Courtesy Dave Ketchpaw

Article about Co E from Hell on Wheels June 13 1945 Photo. Courtesy Dave Ketchpaw


The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America 26 Mar 1945

The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America 26 Mar 1945

RHINE SPAN SPEED TOPS ALL RECORDS 
Yanks Under Fire Build 1,146-Foot Bridge In 9 Hours

MARYLANDERS IN GERMANY:
Two Marylanders, one of them a Baltimorean, are mentioned in the following dispatch. On the Rhine, March 25. 
The general estimated it would take 48 hours. The colonel said maybe it could be done in 36. The lieutenant colonel thought it might be done in 24. But a bunch of determined engineer GI’s and their junior officer sweating and swearing, did it in nine hours. They built the longest treadway pontoon bridge in the world, 1,146 feet across the Rhine south of Wesel, breaking every existing bridge-building record to do it. No army in the world ever built a bridge any faster – but the 202d Group of Engineers and the 17th Armored Engineers didt it. And under fire. “I guess we just were scared and wanted to get out of here in a hurry,” said Lieut William N. Doyble, of Kansas City, Mo. The known record for this type of bridge building is 250 feet in three hours. And these are under ideal conditions. Building a short bridge is nothing like building a long span across the Rhine. By this standard it should have taken at least thirteen hours. Among the engineers who helped build the span in record time were: SERGT. HENRY DEERING. 1308 North Bentalou street. Baltimore. PFC. GEORGE N. WEBER, Bel Air, Maryland.

The Tampa Tribune Tampa, Florida, United States of America 26 Mar 1945,

The Tampa Tribune Tampa, Florida, United States of America 26 Mar 1945,

The Palm Beach Post West Palm Beach, Palm Beach, Florida, United States of America 26 Mar 1945

The Palm Beach Post West Palm Beach, Palm Beach, Florida, United States of America 26 Mar 1945

Democrat and Chronicle Rochester, Monroe, New York, United States of America 26 Mar 1945

Democrat and Chronicle Rochester, Monroe, New York, United States of America 26 Mar 1945


(Edit 2: For more information see the full article about the Treadway bridge across the ” Rhine” on  23 March 1945 near Spellen, Germany)


M2 Treadway Bridge 24 march 1945 Source: Unknown

M2 Treadway Bridge 24 march 1945 Source: Unknown

M2 Treadway Bridge 24 march 1945

M2 Treadway Bridge 24 march 1945

M2 Treadway Bridge over de Rijn, door het 17th Engineer Bn, E Company en 202nd Engineer Bn, C company, south of Wesel, Duitsland, 24 Maart 1945

M2 Treadway Bridge

Bridge Rhine River 17th AEB in record time, Source: Unit History

Bridge Rhine River 17th AEB in record time, Source: Unit History

Source: Getty Images

27th-march-1945

27th march 1945 Source Getty Images