Bailey Bridge

Terence Cuneo’s painting, Bridging the Rapido at Monte Cassino depicts the British Royal Engineers' launch of an 80ft Class 30 Bailey bridge, built under constant fire on the night of the 12-13 May 1944.  

For a complete account of the battle, click here. Written by  Lieutenant-Colonel A.P. deT. Daniell, M.C., T.D., R.E., the account has been reproduced from The Royal Engineers Journal. For more information about the Royal Engineers, visit their website at  

Mabey's panel bridge systems have proud and historic roots in one of the major inventions of World War II.  The Mabey Universal® and the Mabey Compact 200® are modern, heavy-duty versions of the old Bailey bridge.
During the months preceding World War II, new tanks were developed that weighed up to 35 tons, such as the M3 Grant and M4 Sherman tanks. This heavy equipment posed problems for an engineer force that had just replaced its Civil War-era 7 1/2-ton pontoon bridges with 10- and 20-ton-capacity bridges.  Sir Donald Bailey, of Britain's Royal Engineers, designed the Bailey bridge in 1940 to meet this new requirement. Production began in July 1941, and  by December 1941, the Bailey bridge was with the troops. The production figures are staggering; a total of over 490,000 tons of Bailey bridge was manufactured, representing 200 miles(320 Km) of fixed bridges and 40 miles (64 Km) of floating bridges.

Both American and British generals have sung its praises as one of the key factors in the Allied victory.  Indeed, Britain's Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery wrote in 1947,  "Bailey bridging made an immense contribution towards ending World War II.  As far as my own operations were concerned, with the Eighth Army in Italy and with the 21 Army Group in Northwest Europe, I could never have maintained the speed and tempo of forward movement without large supplies of Bailey bridging."   Likewise, General Dwight D. Eisenhower considered the Bailey bridge one of the three most important developments of the war effort, on a par with radar and the heavy bomber.

Today, Mabey's modern panel bridge systems are used in both military and civilian functions.  The Mabey Compact 200® is deployed in hot spots around the world as Line of Communication (LOC) and emergency relief bridging, while DOT's across the United States turn to the Mabey Universal® to keep traffic moving during bridge rehabilitation and repair.  Mabey's commitment to continuous improvement has resulted in bridge systems that carry heavier loads, while delivering increased stability and faster erection times.  To find out more about Mabey's modern bridging systems, call 800-426-2239, or  e-mail us at To find out more about Mabey's military bridging click here.

The original painting, which captures in vivid detail the launch of a Bailey bridge during the Battle for Cassino in May 1944, hangs in the Royal Engineers Museum in Chatham, England.  Terence Cuneo, one of Britain's best known military artists, was himself a  Sapper in the Royal Engineers during World War II.  He died in 1996.  



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