Capt Sydney Mansbridge, CD (Ret’d)

    • Capt Sydney Mansbridge, CD (Ret’d) in 1998
    • RCE EIIR Badge
    • Capt Sydney Mansbridge, CD (Ret’d) in England 1942

    We regret to advise of the death of Captain Sydney Mansbridge, CD (Ret’d) on 8 March 2005 in Nanaimo, BC at the age of 85 years.

    Syd was born and raised in Alix, AB. he traveled to Calgary with his mother and joined the Canadian Army on 17 July 1940 as a member of 10th Field Company, Royal Canadian Engineers at Metawa barracks. First assigned to the old RCMP Barracks in Lethbridge, the company moved to Petawawa, ON in August 1940. In March 1941, the company was re-roled as the 10th Field Squadron while training in Petawawa and assigned to the 5th Canadian Armoured Division. In November he set sail on the RMMV Reina del Pacifico for Aldershot, England, settling in Salamanca Barracks.  What followed was extensive military training until October 1943. In October 1943, they convoyed to Naples, Italy under Operation TIMBERWOLF, to join the 1st Canadian Infantry Division and form I Canadian Corps.  The convoy was attacked by German torpedo bombers 0n 6 November.  Carrying 6774 troops and crew, Syd's ship, SS Monterey, returned fire and downed one aircraft.  Among the three ships sunk in the raid was the SS Santa Elena, carrying 1800 Canadians including Number 14 Canadian General Hospital. SS Monterey, assigned to rescue duties, picked up another 1675 survivors including 171 nursing sisters. The ship carried on to Naples where it arrived two days behind schedule. 

    In Italy, and temporarily attached to the New Zealand Division, Syd and the 10th Field Squadron first saw action building a bridge over the Aventino River on a major highway route beginning on 5 December 1943. The enemy had partially demolished a masonry arch bridge and rather than building an entirely new crossing, 10th Field Squadron was able to shore up damaged piers with timber cribbing and build four sections of Class 30 Bailey bridge totaling 430 feet to re-open the crossing. The job took five days to complete. The unit was under fire and observation for most of the time. Deception to cover the work used camouflage netting suspended on telephone poles in work areas.  Their next action was at Arielli in January 1944 providing direct support to the Perth Regiment in their assault. Syd later took part in the Liri Valley, Melfa Crossing, Gothic Line, Coriano Ridge, Rubicon Fiumicino Crossing, Savio and Lamone Crossings, and Valli di Commachio battles. 

    In February 1945, the 5th Division moved to Holland where Syd participated in the final months of the war and the Occupation including the Breakout from the Arnhem Bridgehead and the actions around the Delfijl Pocket in the closing days of the campaign.  The 10th Field Squadron remained in Holland until late November when the main body returned to England.  Syd remained behind in the rear party but was with the unit when they sailed home on RMS Queen Elizabeth arriving in New York on 14 January 1946. The unit was later disbanded in Calgary.

    The exposure to war forged a lifelong soldier out of Syd.  Syd’s tireless efforts culminated in his being formally presented with a Certificate of Commendation by Field Marshal Montgomery, Commander in Chief, 21st Army Group on 8 February 1946. Former 10th Field Squadron personnel were released from duty on 14 January 1946 and the unit was later disbanded in Calgary, AB, but Syd, as a Sergeant, joined the interim army, and ultimately the Permanent Force. His career took him to Calgary, Chilliwack, Halifax, Fort Churchill, and Nanaimo.  Syd was commissioned in July 1966 and retired in 1972 as a Captain. His final duties were as Base Commander at the Nanaimo Military Base and the Winchelsea Island Test Range.

    Syd's family have endowed the Captain Sydney & Thelma Mansbridge Memorial Scholarships at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo for one male and one female student in the field of engineering. {gdJun2016dc}