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Picture by
Edward M. Stack

The General Alexander M. Patch Highway Bridge, completed under supervision of the 333rd Engineers, connects Mainz with Kastel. It is the first semi-permanent highway span over the Rhine into the American Occupation Zone. 2000 feet long, it stretches over 1850 feet of water by means of 27 steel piers. Rated at 40 tons for 2-way traffic and 70 tons for one-way traffic, it also has ample walkways to accomodate pedestrians travelling between the French and American zones. Over one-half million man-hours were required for this huge job.

In building the General George C. Marshall Railroad Bridge, a Regiment was reformed, combat veterans were transformed into construction men and a life-line of welded steel was thrown across the bridge-wrecked Rhine - all to permanently insure communications for the American Occupation Zone. In September 1945, the 333rd Engineer SS Regiment was reorganized in France under the leadership of Colonel Heath Twichell from three veteran outfits - the 277th, 279th and 1343rd Engineer Combat Battalions. Its first mission, the most important engineering project in the theatre - a bridge of semi-permanent construction - the only rail link connecting the American Zone with the west was dedicated on 18 January 1946. The Marshall Bridge, designed for Cooper’s E-45 loading, consists of 28 piers and ice-breakers, all of tubular steel piling, and the 16 piers of prefabricated steel trestling. The latter are land piers, each embedded in four feet of concrete which in turn are supported by a total of 270 timber piles driven to an average depth of 27 feet. 42,000 linear feet of 16-inch tubular steel piling went into the construction of the pile piers. Many of these were driven to a depth of 67 feet. The superstructure of the bridge is composed of 12,543 feet of wide-flange beams - 39 inches in depth, 300 tons of rail and 3,069 ties. Man hours totalling 1,119,003 were required to complete this vitally important structure from Mainz to Gustavsburg, Germany.

The completion of Carl Schurz Highway Bridge marked another link in the rehabilitation of the Autobahn from Kassel to Karlsruhe. This bridge over the Neckar River, built by Company E of the 333rd Engineer SS Regiment, eliminated a 10 miles detour through Mannheim, thus bringing USFET Headquarters at Frankfurt approximately one half hour closer to the 3rd Army Headquarters at Heidelberg.

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