Friday, 7 November 2014

Pontoon Bridge

 On the 3rd October Belgians in Antwerp started to walk across the recreation of a World War 1 pontoon bridge. Calculations were made of the time it would take to walk across the 1,221 feet (370 metres) and tickets were issued in accordance with that number however people in real life don't behave in neatly predetermined way.  It was a beautiful day and they dawdled for indeed how often do you get a chance to stand in the middle of the Scheldt with your fellow citizens and perhaps cast your mind back a hundred years to think of the thousands who were fleeing the city in haste in 1914 and then take a photo or two.

I bemoaned the fact I couldn't find any photographs of the original 1914 bridge when I wrote about the retreat from Antwerp (here) but I only needed only to look further ahead in the War Illustrated who issued a 'Special Antwerp Number' on 24th October 1914 with articles from their war correspondents, drawings and numerous photographs which included the picture on the front of the dockside
The text says  "Antwerp's day of anguish. This photograph exclusively published here, shows the enormous crowd of despairing refugees on the North German Lloyd quay struggling to reach the floating pier (in the foreground) leading from the battered abd burning town to the temporary pontoon bridge. The escape of the soldiers was a matter of vital importance and some are seen crossing the pontoon bridge...One of the German liners disabled by the British before they left is shown"

"The last of the refugees to leave Antwerp as the Germans entered the city are seen crossing the River Scheldt - some of them by the river ferry-boat and some by the pontoon bridge, temporarily erected and afterwards destroyed to prevent the Germans following the retreating soldiers and fleeing citizens. The river was flowing with oil, run to waste so as not be of service to the invaders"
"A camera captures Belgium's last stand"

Personal stories:-
"Gathering century old memories of war time Belgium" April 2013  BBC News, Antwerp


Vanessa Morgan said...

So weird how names change in other languages. In Antwerp they call the river Schelde, with the accent on the last 'e'.

Joy said...

Interesting and good to know the right pronunciation for next time I'm by its side. It is also much easier to spell in its native form as I'm always getting the 't' in the wrong place! I would guess the reason is historical as in English we would never pronounce the e at the end of a word so if you put a T on the end it gives the sound of a vowel at the end.