Lt Brenton Simpson Brown, MBE


On 3 November 1944, Captain Brown, Royal Canadian Engineers, was appointed Commander, Royal Canadian Engineers, 1 Canadian Division, to conduct experiments with tank-mounted Bailey bridges. At that time there was no satisfactory assault method of spanning a sheer gap such as is created by the demolition of a road bridge. This matter was considered of utmost importance by the Chief Engineer, Eighth Army. After three weeks of intense activity, during which Captain Brown overcame many difficulties both in design and in obtaining necessary materials, a trial bridge was completed and tested. Several weaknesses were revealed. Refusing to be discouraged, this officer set to work again with renewed energy and persistence. After a great deal more hard work, and further trials, his ingenuity was rewarded and a satisfactory bridge was finally completed. On 24 December 1944, the new pattern Mobile Bailey Bridge was launched operationally in support of 1 Canadian Infantry Brigade in their crossing of the Fosso Vecchio. The launching, made under particularly difficult circumstances and heavy fire, proved a success, fully vindicating Captain Brown's confidences and the soundness of his design. This and later trials have demonstrated that in saving much time and labour at a bridging site this bridge will speed the passage of armour to hard pressed infantry and in addition spare sapper lives at heavily shelled crossings. Captain Brown by his brilliance, persistence and proved in solely responsible for bringing this experiment to a remarkably successful conclusion and producing an extremely valuable equipment for assault bridging which can be rapidly improvised in the field.