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Walt's Daughter

First ponton across the river in Heidelberg

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Received this request from my buddy Karl in Germany. I am helping him solve this question...



hello marion


this time i have a very important question, its so important because there is a big debate about the first ponton bridge build in heidelberg on easter sunday april 1.1945. in my oppinion the first one build was by "B" company 555th heavy ponton battalion however there are people who claim the first one was build by an unknown unit around good friday downstream from the blown up towns bridge (friedrichsbrücke). have you got any information on the subject. i would vry much appreciate it. for your efforts i thank you in advance.




ps. there are quite a few good photos on the web site of the 555th. on heidelberg.




Good morning Karl:


Trying to confirm and compare. Fun huh? LOL! Can confirm that the 555th built the bridge on April 1st, which was later taken over by one of "my" units, the 48th Engineer Bn. Have you contacted Jim Behe, webmaster from the 555th, to see if he has further info on this question? Tried to look around his site this morning too, but many of the pages, including his MAPS page, will not come out and I keep getting time-out errors. Oh groan!


I found some great pictures of the 255th Inf Reg, which shows the ponton bridge your refer to. The info states that the 255th were the first US unit to enter Heidelberg, so they would clearly know what was done and where!




Here are regimental reports from that unit, and they talk about a treadway being built on Saturday, March 31st, and state it was the first bridge built to cross the Neckar. Before that, the unit crossed in boats. Their reports in late March and early April, clearly state that a TREADWAY bridge was the first one to cross that river. So the ponton bridge built by the 555th on April 1st, would be the first ponton. The 255th Inf Reg do not refer any ponton being built before April 1st.




Begin reading above from page 59 and on to the next few pages.


I will see what else I can conjur, but this should help your case right now.





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To find who built the other bridges and when they were built, we`d have to obtain records for the XXI Corps and maybe the XV Corps and it looks like the 1150 Engineer Combat Group that was in support of 44th Infantry Div in Mannheim & then the 63rd Inf Div after march 28/29. The 263rd Engineer C Bn, organic to the 63rd Inf Div did not build any of the bridges across the Nekar before 1 April.

There were 2 infantry foot bridges & a Ferry at Landenburg. The ferry was operated by the 289th Eng Combat Bn. In the operations reports of the 263rd Eng, an M2 Treadway bridge was completed at 2400 hrs 29/30 March but does not give its location, but it would have Mannheim or near Landenberg, not Heidelburg. The first and only bridge that i can find built on or before 1 April in Heidelburg itself was the Class 40 reinforced Heavy Ponton built by Co B, 555th EHPB.




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