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280-mm guns ferried across Rhine in test

280mm "atomic cannons" are ferried across the Rhine during Operation Big Lift in May, 1954.


Army-Navy 'lift' demonstrates mobility

By ROBERT DUNPHY | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 12, 1954

GERMERSHEIM, May 11 — Six mammoth 280-mm cannon were ferried across the Rhine River here today in "Operation Big Lift," a Joint Army-Navy exercise that went off without a hitch.

The maneuver, unprecedented in the young life of the Army's 85-ton "Amazing Annie," was carried out by personnel of the Navy's Rhine River Patrol, who manned the ferries, and the Army's 887th FA En, who manned the mighty weapons. The exercise was designed to train crewmen in handling the gun on river crossings under simulated combat conditions.

"I think the men of the Rhine River Patrol and the gun crews alike benefited from the operation," said Lt Col Gibson R. Finley, CO of the 867th. "It's the first time this has been done, so it's all a matter of time and experience. The main problem has been finding landing sites good enough to take us."

Navy Capt George P. Unmacht, CO of the Rhine River Patrol, said: "The operation seems to be going fine. The gun is very maneuverable and has given us no trouble at all. As far as the Navy is concerned this is a routine lift in support of the 7th Army and that is what we're in Germany for."

The six mighty weapons, the Army's largest calibre artillery pieces having complete mobility, were ferried across the river by two LCUs making three trips each. Taking the guns aboard at an uprooted ferry landing here, the giant ferries disgorged them on the other side of the river at Rheinstein, about 2½ kilometers downstream.

Directing the operation were Mat John E. Craig, operating officer of the 187th, and Navy Lt Cmdr Richard C. J. Cozard, operations officer of the Rhine River Patrol.

"Our problem was to move the cannon from the vicinity of Germersheim to a bivouac area across the river," Craig explained. "There we would set up the guns in a simulated firing position. We could have done this by having the engineers throw up a "railroad" pontoon bridge, but we decided on a beachhead approach with the help of the Rhine River Patrol."

In today's exercise the two British-made LCUs employed were the 3G, based at the Rhine River Patrol's Unit K station at Karlsruhe, and the R4G, based at the patrol's headquarters at Schierstein, near Wiesbaden. The craft were commanded by Chief Boatswain's Mate W. C. Gorham and Chief Quartermaster R. L. Leary.

280mm "atomic cannons" are ferried across the Rhine during Operation Big Lift in May, 1954.

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