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Building and Repairing Bridges

Heroes Remember

Building and Repairing Bridges

Our job was to when we put in the bridge. We had to mine it and we had to stay there to look after it, in case there was a counter attack. And we had our own slip trenches there, we had the bridges all wired up and mined in case they counter attacked and we had to blow them eh. Interviewer: On the other, or on the flip side if the brigade was going forward, the Germans would blow their bridges? Oh yes. Interviewer: And you men would be expected to repair them? Yes we did. We had known as a Bailey bridge that was a nice steel bridge it was, it would hold a tank when built. The channel's weren't that wide and one of the biggest bridges ever built was in the Campobasso there at the Sanglo, but them Bailey bridges we had to build them at night and so the daycos could go across ah. Interviewer: You men had to become very experienced at doing this in darkness? Oh yes, but it's funny ah, when there when we're in a line there ah, they had these powerful search lights. They were all ways behind us eh, and ah, you couldn't look into them to good, but out towards the front you could see enough to know what your doing. Interviewer: So these search lights would silhouette you? Yes. Behind us. Interviewer: Wouldn't that make you a better target for the Germans? Well they couldn't actually shoot against a light, a search light. It's funny they had search lights. I don't know who had thought of that, but it was nice you can go on and you could see in places that you were going, but you couldn't ah, and you know, could get off the roads when you were coming back. Interviewer: Generally speaking though Mr Berard, when you men went to build bridges the enemy was also there to stop you? Oh yes. Yeah I remember, remember in Italy there after we went to Ortona there, we went to Casino eh. They tramped us over to the, and ah, we took a little training there with the, the 5th American Rangers and ah, we went into Casino. The site we scene there was terrible, ya know, we had to clear some mines and some Americans was laying all over and ah, I remember that night we went into Casino there, and ah , there was uh, they laid a barrage there of 27 hundred guns, firing all day and all night and they bombed it at night and in the morning then when we went in. It was quite a thing ya know and ah, farther on, is where Smoky Smith won his VC, he out took a tiger tank with a PIAT gun. Interviewer: That was at the Savio River? Yes. Interviewer: Before you get to that, you were involved in the bridge at Liri Valley where Mr Triquet won his? Yes we built two bridges there. Two Bailey bridges. Interviewer: What do you remember about that operation? Well we, the party went in there and he must of had a tough time because. I tell ya it was pretty rugged country and then I remember that one bridge we built there, just before, just after that they call it a road that came from Ortona and the one from where we were, they called it the Dundee Cross roads and ah, there was fox holes all over and every time a guy went there, instead of standing on the road you were in a fox hole talking somebody and ah, they had a tough time eh. I'm telling you they lost a lot of men there.

Mr. Berard outlines his duties as part of the Royal Canadian Engineers.

Robert John Berard

Robert John Berard was born in 1921 in Tofield, Alberta, son of a farmer, with five brothers and three sisters. In 1941, he enlisted in the Edmonton Fusiliers and was sent to Scotland in June 1942 as part of reinforcements for the Regina Rifles. He joined one of his brothers with the Royal Canadian Engineers in Sicily.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Robert John Berard
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Royal Canadian Engineer

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