UK Military Bridging – Look Back Look Forward

This has been a tremendously rewarding series to write, the depth of expertise, team work, diligence and hard won experience translated into operational advantage has been incredible to read about, quite humbling and certainly a privilege.

At every stage the UK has been at the forefront of military bridging operations and design.

BR90 Automotive Bridge Laying Equipment (ABLE) General Support Bridging vehiclesBR90 Automotive Bridge Laying Equipment (ABLE) General Support Bridging vehicles

Looking forward…

In the short term, the Royal Engineers will likely be reorganised along the Multi Role Brigade lines as defined by the SDSR and it is likely that the equipment in service will not fundamentally change. Maybe REBS will be bought into service post Afghanistan and some form of mid-life refurbishment for the BR90 components might see the light of day, perhaps even a transfer of the equipment to the surplus MAN Support Vehicles that will be likely post SDSR draw downs in overall force size.

WFEL, Faun and Mabey continue to sell their equipment worldwide; the legacy of the MEXE alumni continues to earn money for the UK, certainly the best outcome from the wanton vandalism committed by successive governments on the Research Establishments.

Bridging is somewhat unusual because the ‘problem’ does not change. Rivers, canals and other gaps have not changed significantly since the first use of military bridging. The need for speed continues as there is never enough time to cross the river but future designs are likely to focus on cost and reducing the number of personnel used to deploy and recover bridges. Personnel are where the costs lie and it is here that future designs will be driven.

New materials will also continue to play a large part in future designs

Am going to keep adding to this series as new images or videos come to light so if anyone wants to add any new information or media just let me know.

I would also like to thank the various people that have given me permission to use some of their images, each image should have an appropriate credit and of course, I must not forget to mention the One More River to Cross book from Col John Joiner RE that provided the inspiration and much of the background for the series. I would urge anyone with even a passing interest to pop over to the RE Museum, Corps Enterprise Website or even (if you must) Amazon and buy a copy of this book and I hope that the medium of a web page can provide a little extra insight into the subject because it is so easy to add video and colour images.



Definitions and General Terms

Early Days


WWII – Far East Theatre

WWII – Africa and Northwest Europe

WWII – Italy

Post War

Iraq and Afghanistan

Equipment – Military Load Classification

Equipment – Floating Bridges

Equipment – Assault Bridging

Equipment – Construction Bridging

Equipment – Pre WWII

Equipment – The Bailey Bridge

Equipment – The Medium Girder Bridge

Equipment – Air Portable Bridges

Equipment – BR90 and REBS

Equipment – Trackway

Look Back and Look Forward

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