Information about the bridges comes from the 145th ECB unit history compiled by Capt. Robert Greenwalt, commander of Company B. The photographs were taken by U.S. Army Photographer Tec 5 Benedetto F. Ballone, who kept a detailed log of those photos.
From France, through Luxembourg and Belgium, and into Germany, the 145th ECB built at least 84 bridges, totaling well over a mile in length. They ranged in size from 12-foot long bridges over ditches to the 253-foot Bailey Bridge over the Meurthe River at Custines, France, to the 390-foot floating treadway across the Moselle at Winningen, Germany. The Battalion’s record in Europe runs from July 8, 1944 to May 13, 1945 – 309 days. On average, they built one bridge about every 3 1/2 days, over rivers, canals, ditches, and railroads. This sequence shows a bit about how they did their work.
We can get a sense of what the Battalion accomplished through the photos of Tech Cpl. Ballone’s work, which is presented in the links below. The list of bridge photographs is broken into four sections:
- Bridges built from July to September 1944
- Bridges built from October to December 1944
- Bridges built from January to March 1945
- Bridges built in April and May 1945
Many of the photographs include the map grid coordinates, which provide a starting point for finding the actual location. Where no grid coordinates were listed, the actual location was based upon the location of current bridges and characteristics of the surrounding landscape and buildings. Remarkably, many of the buildings that appear in Ballone’s photographs appear to still be in place today, nearly 75 years later. Google Street View allows one to see the landscape and buildings, almost as if one were there in person. In many cases, the buildings have unique characteristics that make them easy to identify. Where possible, I’ve listed the latitude and longitude of my estimate of the actual bridge locations and included an image of the Google Street View so that you can judge for yourself whether my estimate seems plausible. I also go through the process I used to find those locations, if you’re interested in learning more.
I have also added colorized versions of the original photos to some of the pages. I’m adding more as I am able. I used the Pixbim Color Surprise AI package for most of the colorization. Colorization adds color to the original black and white photos based on similar photos of trees, water, people, and landscapes. The colors are usually reasonable, but there is no way to know for certain that they accurately represent the actual colors. I have not made any other changes to the photos, so they still show what the photographer and the camera saw. I think they colorized photos add a lot of depth to the photos without changing the actual content and can give the viewer a better sense of what the scenes looked like at the time. I hope you agree.