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brian m

Book showing Photographs of work of the 157th Engineer Combat Battalion

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I was given information about a book titled "Photographs of work of the 157th Engineer Combat Battalion" and after several emails, and a lot of waiting, I was able to track it down! I knew the book was 1000 miles away from where I live so I asked if I could see it via an inter-library loan but I was told I could not due to the fragile condition of the book. Fortunately, they were happy to scan the book for me and send me a digital copy! While I prefer to do my own scanning, they did a good job and last night I received the first of likely three installments.

 

This first batch was 25 pages long and had approximately 39 photographs and needless to say, I have poured over them! The photographs do not appear to be in chronological order and the labels, which seem to have been an afterthought, that were included in the book do not give the best information. I added dates and additional information where I could and I hope to find the information for the other photographs soon.

 

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The first pages were labeled "Putting extra transoms on bridge to strengthen to Class 70" These are from the Seine RIver Bridge at Mantes Glassicourt, Fance. There is a lot written about this bridge as it was the first time that a Bailey Bridges was used in this way: four river barges were used to support the Bailey Bridge. One of the gentlemen, T/5 Richard Purcell, who was in Company C with my grandfather said that the night before the work began on the bridge, Company C unloaded 29 truckloads of Bailey Bridge. After finishing unloading in the early morning, Mr. Purcell was told to get some chow and some sleep. He opted for the sleep but as soon as he laid down, he was told to get up as it was time to start the construction of the bridge. Mr. Purcell has some great stories about this bridge, partly due to the fact that his birthday is August 21st, the same day construction of the bridge began.

 

This is also where my Grandfather was shot through the leg by the straffing ME-109s, temporarily taking him out of the war. I understand in talking with another 157th, Company C soldier, Sgt. Alton Heimbach, that my Grandfather helped to bring the barges down to the bridge site.

 

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Putting extra transoms on bridge to strengthen to Class 70 (1 of 5)

 

 

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Putting extra transoms on bridge to strengthen to Class 70 (2 of 5)

 

 

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Putting extra transoms on bridge to strengthen to Class 70 (3 of 5)

 

 

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Putting extra transoms on bridge to strengthen to Class 70 (4 of 5)

 

 

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Putting extra transoms on bridge to strengthen to Class 70 (5 of 5)

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The next set of photographs were labeled "First vehicle fell in with no vehicles on bridge" This was likely in mid-late July, 1944. In his “History Sketch 157th Engineer © Bn.” memoir, Major, CE Harry C. Davis wrote about the bridge: “The only engineer work done so far in this move was the installation of a Bailey Bridge over a blown span of a multiple arch bridge. The bridge withstood traffic all night and collapsed the following day with no vehicle on it. Reason: No provision had been made for horizontal forces and the dead weight on the bridge caused it to collapse. A lesson was learned here that was never forgotten; an arch bridge (keystone), once the series of arches are broken, must be braced against itself to prevent its collapsing from its own weight on a horizontal movement”.

 

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First vehicle fell in with no vehicles on bridge (1 of 4)

 

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First vehicle fell in with no vehicles on bridge (2 of 4)

 

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First vehicle fell in with no vehicles on bridge (3 of 4)

 

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First vehicle fell in with no vehicles on bridge (4 of 4)

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"Highway bridge, Neufchatau, Company C" No additional information at this time.

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Highway bridge, Neufchatau, Company C (photo 1 of 3)

 

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Highway bridge, Neufchatau, Company C (photo 2 of 3)

 

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Highway bridge, Neufchatau, Company C (photo 3 of 3)

 

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Blown railroad bridge not reconstructed by 157th Engr Const Bn. (No additional information at this time)

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Next up "Bridge as taken over from 163rd Engineers" (No additional information at this time)

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Bridge as taken over from 163rd Engineers (photo 1 of 5)

 

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Bridge as taken over from 163rd Engineers (photo 2 of 5)

 

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Bridge as taken over from 163rd Engineers (photo 3 of 5)

 

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Bridge as taken over from 163rd Engineers (photo 4 of 5)

 

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Bridge as taken over from 163rd Engineers (photo 5 of 5)

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"Rebuilding of Motor Park 11th Evacuation Hospital, Bayon". As of November 1, 1944, Company C had as one of their secondary missions - Graveling Motor Park for the 11th Evacuation Hospital near Bauon. This was ompleted by Company C on November 6, 1944.

 

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Rebuilding of Motor Park 11th Evacuation Hospital, Bayon (photo 1 of 2)

 

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Rebuilding of Motor Park 11th Evacuation Hospital, Bayon (photo 2 of 2)

 

"Lamath, Company A" Note in the first photograph, the jeep is part of the 79th Infantry Division which the 157th was with for a good while.

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Lamath, Company A (Photo 1 of 3)

 

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Lamath, Company A (Photo 2 of 3)

 

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Lamath, Company A (Photo 3 of 3)

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"Bridge at Luneville, Company A and 163rd Engineers" (No additional information at this time)

 

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Bridge at Luneville, Company A and 163rd Engineers (photo 1 of 8)

 

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Bridge at Luneville, Company A and 163rd Engineers (photo 2 of 8)

 

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Bridge at Luneville, Company A and 163rd Engineers (photo 3 of 8)

 

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Bridge at Luneville, Company A and 163rd Engineers (photo 4 of 8)

 

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Bridge at Luneville, Company A and 163rd Engineers (photo 5 of 8)

 

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Bridge at Luneville, Company A and 163rd Engineers (photo 6 of 8)

 

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Bridge at Luneville, Company A and 163rd Engineers (photo 7 of 8)

 

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Bridge at Luneville, Company A and 163rd Engineers (photo 8 of 8)

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"Bailey installed within 4 hours of receipt of orders. Hirschland, Company C (near Sarrebourgh)" This was an 80 foot double single bailey Bridge constructed on November 29, 1944.

 

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Bailey installed within 4 hours of receipt of orders. Hirschland, Company C (near Sarrebourgh) (Photograph 1 of 1)

 

 

At La Frohmuhl, Bitche Sector (near Rohrbach) Company B (No additional information at this time)

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At La Frohmuhl, Bitche Sector (near Rohrbach) Company B (Photograph 1 of 1)

 

 

"Company C steam roller" (No additional information at this time)

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Company C steam roller (photo 1 of 1)

 

 

"Hospital east of Sodd (sp.) Union" (No additional information at this time)

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Hospital east of Sodd (sp.) Union (Photo 1 of 1)

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"Company C, Rahling - Bitche Section" Beginning in the morning of December 9, 1944, Company C removed one of the two treadway bridges and completed construction of the one half bridge in 7 hours (they worked on one half the bridge at a time in order to not impair the flow of heavy traffic). Removal of the second half of bridge began on December 9th and construction of the bridge was completed on the 10th.

 

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Company C, Rahling - Bitche Section (Photo 1 of 4)

 

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Company C, Rahling - Bitche Section (Photo 2 of 4)

 

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Company C, Rahling - Bitche Section (Photo 3 of 4)

 

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Company C, Rahling - Bitche Section (Photo 4 of 4)

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That was all with this installment, 25 pages worth. I was told that the book is 85 pages all together so I should be getting some more great photographs! I would welcome any information on the places, bridges, people or any other details observed on the photographs.

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No problem Jean, glad to do it. I got a lot of my information from work that others found and posted on the internet so if this helps someone else or encourages another 157th engineer or 157th family member to find more information or post information they have, then it is worth it to me.

 

Not to mention, I cannot tell you how much fun it is to take new information or new photos I find to Mr. Purcell. I mailed a new to me photograph of the 157th building the Seine River Bridge that I got on ebay to Mr. Purcell with his Christmas Card. When I called him a few days later, you could hear the excitement in his voice telling me that he had a lot to say about that photograph! I swear he is like me and goes through each photograph with a magnifying glass looking at every little detail down to what boots they were wearing at the time.

 

As for the summary of the towns, locations and map, I do have a map showing the travels of the 1109th Engineer Combat Group of which the 157th and 163rd Engineer Combat Battalions were part of. My birthday is coming up next month and my gift from my wife is going to be having it scanned (it is not in the best shape so there are precautions needed for scanning ($)) and then I will have the original professionally framed so it will last. This map shows the location of the headquarters for the 1109th and so not exactly where each battalion and companies were located, but close. Luckily, the available after action reports and such have a lot of this information. I have been working on bringing all the information together and combining it with all the photographs, souvenirs, paperwork and letters that I have to get an as complete as possible account of the 157th. Of course, my wife thinks I am nuts. Oh well!

 

Brian

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YEAH! That's what I said when I saw this post this morning. This is such cool stuff!

 

When I saw all the pics, I was drooling. Will have to get these uploaded to the 157th folder in the Engineer's Gallery.

 

A shout out to Harold Whiting - "Hey, have you seen this post yet?" :pdt12: For those readers out there who don't know, Harold is one of the vets from the 157th, whom I'm had the pleasure to meet.

 

Yes, cheers to your wife. I can appreciate her help, for my husband has done a lot for me and also been very patient with me during my research. :clappin2:

Thanks for taking the time to do this. I know how much effort goes into something like this.

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Brian - I am FINALLY going to copy and upload all the photos you provided above, to the gallery today, if all goes well. Sorry for the long delay, but you would not believe my WWII related backlog for letters, uploads, etc. I swear I need to hire a secretary to assist me, for I really need one. :pdt12:

 

I will add these to the Frank Altman folder.

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We're glad we can do this for you and for many others. It's nice to hear how much you appreciate this. :pdt12:

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Hi. I'm new to the forum and was hoping to see some photos of the 163rd. My uncle was in the unit and my cousin and I were just going through is ribbons, medals, uniform and so on. But the photos posted are 'photobucket' and I can't see them. Is there any other way to view them? Thanks much. - Stve

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Sorry, those photos don't belong to me, but are Brian's. Evidently he didn't update his PhotoBucket account, so it looks like we are out of luck. Hopefully he will see this and help us out. :-) Sorry about that. 

 

BTW, welcome to the forum. Glad to have you here! 

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I'll send him a private note...

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Thanks very much Marion. It'd be deeply appreciated.

My uncle Teddy passed away a number of years back and never spoke much about the war (he was 19 years old when they went into Normandy) but kept all his papers, uniform, campaign ribbons, and so on. It'd be pretty amazing to see a photo or two of him should we be so lucky. His little sister (my mom - now 89! - still remembers my grandmother sitting in Ted's bedroom throughout the war where they had a map and pins trying to track where he was on the barest of information) and his daughter would surely be thrilled.  

-Steve H.

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