Wooden footbridge used to cross River Douve, Messines : 40 Battalion, AIF

Place Europe: Belgium, Flanders, West-Vlaanderen, Messines
Accession Number RELAWM00500
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Metal, Wood
Location Main Bld: First World War Gallery: Western Front 1917: 3rd Battle of Ypres
Maker Various
Place made Belgium
Date made 1917
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Footbridge contructed from wood and metal. The bridge is contructed from 45 wooden panels laid vertically over two horizontal planks, which are braced with two crossed over wooden planks. Each panel is nailed down on either side with two metal nails. Strips of metal have been shaped over and nailed to the first three planks panels on either side and end. One plank is missing and 4 are damaged.

History / Summary

Wooden footbridge used to the cross the River Douve in Messines, France. One of several portable bridges laid over a stream called the Douve, which crossed the ground over which the 3rd Division advanced in the battle of Messines. It was built by the 10th Field Company, Australian Engineers.

The following account of the production and use of the bridge appeared in 'Reveille' (the magazine of the NSW RSL) in March 1933, page 17, as 'War Museum Glimpses No.38'. 'THE DOUVE CROSSING: The Douve, a stream 12 feet wide in winter and nearly dry in summer, ran obliquely across the front allotted to the 10th Australian Infantry Brigade during the Battle of Messines, in June 1917. The stream presented an obstacle which, although minor, had nevertheless to be considered, and the bridging of it was entrusted to the 40th Bn. Special light bridges, capable of being carried by hand, were constructed by the 10th Field Coy. Engineers, and at zero hour five platoons of the 40th Bn., forming up on the northern bank of the river, advanced, and while some men attacked the enemy front line trench, others laid several of these bridges across the stream, so facilitating the successful passage of the main body of troops attacking on this immediate front, consisting of the remaining detachments of the 40th Bn., and the 38th and 37th Bns. One of these bridges is exhibited in the museum, and the description relating to the exhibit shows a photograph of the bridge actually in the position where it had been laid during the attack.'