Pontoon bridge opens to remind Belgians of WWI

AP News
Posted: Oct 03, 2014 11:10 AM
Pontoon bridge opens to remind Belgians of WWI

ANTWERP, Belgium (AP) — A pontoon bridge has been rebuilt in Belgium's second largest city to commemorate the important role such a bridge played in World War I by allowing the king and much of the Belgian army to escape the Germans.

The reproduction, the handiwork of engineers from the Belgian and Dutch armies, opened to visitors on Friday, and will remain open through Sunday. The 1,221-foot (370-meter) long span, which rests on barges, is built at the same spot on the Scheldt river where a pontoon bridge was assembled in 1914 to supply the fortified city of Antwerp and permit its rapid evacuation.

Following a German bombardment and siege, King Albert I and Belgian army units left the burning city and headed south to the Yser river, where they dug in and continued to resist the invaders.

Belgium's current monarch, King Philippe, and his wife Queen Mathilde were in Antwerp on Friday to help kick off the World War I centennial commemorations.