RAN Bridging Team

May 27, 2009

G’Day, it’s amazing what you find on the web !!!!

I recently discovered that a Great Uncle of mine was a member of the RAN Bridging Team, and his Service Records show that on 04 Jun 1915 he embarked in Melbourne on the HMAT Port Macquarie and disembarked at Lemnos on 21 Jul 1915.

His Service Details were:

George William Spurr
Regimental Number 18 (Yes, 18!)
Rating A B Driver

He had been in the RANR for 3 years when he enlisted (with his parents’ permission) in Newcastle, NSW, at age 20, and his Form of Engagement was signed by Lt Cdr L S Bracegirdle on 05 Mar 1915.

His Records show very little after he arrived at Lemnos, but I assumed that the Bridging Team was employed disembarking and supporting the troops somewhere at Gallipoli.

In late 1916 he spent some time in and out of Hospital around Suez (the names Mudros, Kubri West, Shallufa and El Arish are mentioned) until he embarked on the Bulla for return to Melbourne and demobilisation in May 1817.

Your entry in ‘Ahoy’ ("RAN Reservists at Gallipoli, 1915") gave me a much better idea of the RANBT and what its members did at Gallipoli, but I wonder what they did around the area until they returned to Australia? Have you any clues or leads to other information that might be available? Their exploits certainly seem to have been forgotten, perhaps because they were neither Army nor Navy, and neither Australian nor British, as you suggest.

I remember Uncle George quite well as my mother visited his family almost every week on the 1940s. I also occasionally met him at the BHP Steelworks in Newcastle in the early 1950s, where I was an Engineering Cadet and George was one of the army of people there at that time keeping the huge Plant reasonably clean with their brooms, shovels and wheelbarrows. I remember that he was a bit of a ‘loner’, but I saw him in an Anzac Day march through Newcastle, probably in the late 1940s.

By the way, I joined the Engineer Branch of the RAAF in 1957 and was deeply involved in the F-111 Project in the late 1960s when various structural problems were encountered and eventually rectified. I resigned in 1982 with the rank of Gp Capt, and have done various things since then including helping British Aerospace with their successful Hawk Lead-in-Fighter Tender, and more recently delving into my Family History, a very interesting and time consuming past time.

Thank you for the information on the RANBT.

Col Spitzkowsky


Here is more detail on the RAN Bridging Train:

The Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train By Greg Swinden


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