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Old 02-13-2020, 02:52 AM
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Saving Private Ryan--End Part--Why not just blow the bridge and leave?


I'm having another sleepless night and watching Saving Private Ryan for the millionth time, but I've not noticed this flaw yet.

They find Ryan, but he cannot leave his unit and they cannot leave because this bridge they are protecting is the last one in which the Germans could cross and expose the beachhead established at D-Day.

So, Tom Hanks' unit stays to defend. They all are risking their lives to keep the Germans from getting this bridge, and they further rig it up to explode if their defensive efforts fail. If I am wrong in the above, please correct me.

My question is...why not just blow the bridge, get the fuck out of there, send Ryan home, and everyone live to fight another day?
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Old 02-13-2020, 03:00 AM
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If memory serves (though I could be fusing it with films like A Bridge Too Far and Bridge at Remagen), the idea is that, ideally, the bridge would be available for allied forces to use in breaking out of the Normandy beached and its approaches. Because of course if the Germans are coming from one way, then the allies will want to go there too eventually, and the less time they have to spend building or repair bridges, the better.
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Old 02-13-2020, 03:09 AM
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Not "eventually" - remember, Allied forces arrived at the bridge at the end of the battle. It would have been a serious blow if they had found the bridge gone and have no way to continue their advance.
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Old 02-13-2020, 03:21 AM
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Itís similar to the real life objective at Pegasus Bridge by British glider infantry. Hold until relieved. Denying the bridge to German reinforcements and holding it for allied forces moving forward.
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Old 02-13-2020, 04:38 AM
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I'm curious what would have happened had they pulled out without blowing the bridge, or been pushed off the bridge/killed by the German attack?

According to the movie the Germans had 4 tanks and about 50 infantry, and then a number of that force were killed and destroyed just taking the bridge in the first place. There were allied reinforcements with air support very close to arriving at the bridge, so even if the Germans had taken the bridge would they have been able to hold it?

I guess if Tom Hanks hadn't bolstered the squad at the bridge it would have quickly been pushed back and the bridge blown. If the Germans had taken the bridge I imagine they would have kept it for about a day then had to destroy it themselves as they pulled back in turn. Basically that bridge should be grateful to Tom Hanks that it remained standing.

As an aside, I only now realise the point of the earlier scene where the medic got killed because Tom Hanks couldn't just go around the German outpost that they encountered. That outpost was nothing to do with his mission but he felt he had to deal with it anyway, and because of that he couldn't just take Private Ryan and leave the far more important bridge. The movie shows Private Ryan refusing to leave, but even if he wanted to go Tom Hanks would have had to stay anyway or be shown as a hypocrite.
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Old 02-13-2020, 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by bucketybuck View Post
I'm curious what would have happened had they pulled out without blowing the bridge, or been pushed off the bridge/killed by the German attack?

According to the movie the Germans had 4 tanks and about 50 infantry, and then a number of that force were killed and destroyed just taking the bridge in the first place. There were allied reinforcements with air support very close to arriving at the bridge, so even if the Germans had taken the bridge would they have been able to hold it?

I guess if Tom Hanks hadn't bolstered the squad at the bridge it would have quickly been pushed back and the bridge blown. If the Germans had taken the bridge I imagine they would have kept it for about a day then had to destroy it themselves as they pulled back in turn. Basically that bridge should be grateful to Tom Hanks that it remained standing.
Yeah, the Germans would probably have been pushed back within a day or so, but as you said, they would have blown the bridge too. But of course Capt Miller and the 101st soldiers had no way of knowing when they'd be relieved.

And the bridge shouldn't be too grateful to Tom Hanks - he was trying to reach the detonator to blow it when he was shot by Steamboat Willie. So if anything, that's who the bridge should be grateful to.
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Old 02-13-2020, 08:28 AM
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I always thought that they should have buried some of the composition B in a shallow trench across the front of the bridge. Then they could have remotely blown the treads off the tiger since it had to cross that spot. Not only would it have stopped the tiger, but it would have blocked the bridge to other German vehicles. The down side was that the tiger would have become an unflankable pillbox that was immune to just about any weapon possessed by ground forces. And it would have blocked allied vehicles from crossing the bridge just as much.
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Old 02-13-2020, 10:11 AM
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I always thought that they should have buried some of the composition B in a shallow trench across the front of the bridge. Then they could have remotely blown the treads off the tiger since it had to cross that spot. Not only would it have stopped the tiger, but it would have blocked the bridge to other German vehicles. The down side was that the tiger would have become an unflankable pillbox that was immune to just about any weapon possessed by ground forces. And it would have blocked allied vehicles from crossing the bridge just as much.
Molotov the ventilation ports/engine? Buttoned up WW2 tanks aren't that hard to kill in urban areas for trained infantry. Staying out of the periscopes' field of view is important though...

As for moving the tank, call up the engineers with a recovery vehicle and tow the thing away from the bridge. That said, just blow the bridge already. Could a Bailey Bridge really not have been brought up to span that gap?

SPR is a great movie...right up until they get established on the beach behind the Germans. Then it slides inexorably downhill through cliche after cliche. The radar station mission is just one of many facepalm situations throughout the movie.

RE: Pegasus Bridge. I always hated that mission in the first Call of Duty game. About as bad as Pavlov's House.
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Old 02-13-2020, 10:29 AM
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Molotov the ventilation ports/engine? Buttoned up WW2 tanks aren't that hard to kill in urban areas for trained infantry. Staying out of the periscopes' field of view is important though...

As for moving the tank, call up the engineers with a recovery vehicle and tow the thing away from the bridge. That said, just blow the bridge already. Could a Bailey Bridge really not have been brought up to span that gap?
Molotovs could be tough since the tiger would have a huge moat in the form of the canal. And since it would be facing the bridge, both of the MGs could keep US forces off of it. The accompanying German infantry could keep US troops from crossing the canal.

But yes, eventually us forces could destroy the tank, kill or drive off the rest of the Panzergrenadiers, and either bridge the narrow canal or push the dead tiger away. But the immediate effects of stopping the Tiger in front of the bridge could be a problem for my idea of mining the ground in front of the bridge.
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Old 02-13-2020, 11:40 AM
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SPR is a great movie...right up until they get established on the beach behind the Germans. Then it slides inexorably downhill through cliche after cliche.
I am very much with you on this assessment.
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Old 02-13-2020, 05:59 PM
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If memory serves (though I could be fusing it with films like A Bridge Too Far and Bridge at Remagen), the idea is that, ideally, the bridge would be available for allied forces to use in breaking out of the Normandy beached and its approaches. Because of course if the Germans are coming from one way, then the allies will want to go there too eventually, and the less time they have to spend building or repair bridges, the better.
Remagen was later, based on an action during the Battle of the Ruhr Pocket, and well into German territory. The deal with that was the Leudendorf Bridge was one of the last bridges over the Ruhr that the Germans hadn't yet destroyed. [My dad got a serious medal for being one of the guys who went under fire and removed explosives to make it safe to get across to take care of the machine gun nests on the German side pinning the Allies down. ]

But I agree, blow the bridge and bring in the engineers to pop up a temp.

[And on the subject of Bridge flicks, Die Bruecke was fascinating, I think it should be available on DVD from Criterion. German made, local kids conscripted into the home guard defend a bridge. ]
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Old 02-13-2020, 06:21 PM
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I am very much with you on this assessment.
Same. I never understood people who claim it's an amazing film, it 100% feels like the first draft dress rehearsal for the exponentially superior Band of Brothers.
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Old 02-13-2020, 06:25 PM
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Remagen was later, based on an action during the Battle of the Ruhr Pocket, and well into German territory. The deal with that was the Leudendorf Bridge was one of the last bridges over the Ruhr that the Germans hadn't yet destroyed. [My dad got a serious medal for being one of the guys who went under fire and removed explosives to make it safe to get across to take care of the machine gun nests on the German side pinning the Allies down. ]

But I agree, blow the bridge and bring in the engineers to pop up a temp.

[And on the subject of Bridge flicks, Die Bruecke was fascinating, I think it should be available on DVD from Criterion. German made, local kids conscripted into the home guard defend a bridge. ]
In addition, why would the allies want to use that bridge to move men and materiel through that shelled out town filled with rubble? Wouldn't it be easier to build a temp bridge 4 miles down river where you don't have to worry about machines getting bogged down?

Further, there was no talk in the movie about our guys needing the bridge. The entire exchange was that if the Germans crossed that bridge, they would expose the landing areas to attack so therefore they must defend it at all costs.

Nobody in Ryan's unit thought of blowing the bridge because they did not believe that they had any devices that would explode. They had a lot of explosives, but no devices. It was only when Tom Hanks explained the "sticky bomb" idea that they were able to rig them up. When they did, it seems to me that the solution should have been obvious---blow the bridge and get out of there.

Especially given that any value from having that bridge for allied use would be less than obeying the order that came from the Secretary of War to get Ryan home. Wouldn't Hanks' character have been up for court martial if he survived but Ryan was killed? He had pretty clear orders.
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Old 02-14-2020, 03:49 AM
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Nobody in Ryan's unit thought of blowing the bridge because they did not believe that they had any devices that would explode. They had a lot of explosives, but no devices. It was only when Tom Hanks explained the "sticky bomb" idea that they were able to rig them up. When they did, it seems to me that the solution should have been obvious---blow the bridge and get out of there.
What?

Its explicitly stated in the movie that they could blow the bridge at any time, the sticky bombs had nothing to do with the bridge.

Quote:
01:57:43 that forward machine gun is not in a terrible firing position.

01:57:49 And this position right here...

01:57:54 this is the Alamo.

01:57:56 They push us back here, last man blows the bridge.

01:58:00 We only got a 30-second fuse,
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Old 02-14-2020, 12:55 PM
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In addition, why would the allies want to use that bridge to move men and materiel through that shelled out town filled with rubble? Wouldn't it be easier to build a temp bridge 4 miles down river where you don't have to worry about machines getting bogged down?
You'd also have to build four miles of road to get to the bridge. Might be easier to just bulldoze your way through the rubble.
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Old 02-14-2020, 01:24 PM
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Just an observation that it would be more considerate to put any partially spoiling content in the body of a post rather than a title, even for a relative old movie. Thread could have been just been titled "Saving Private Ryan - Ending".
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Old 02-14-2020, 01:32 PM
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As for moving the tank, call up the engineers with a recovery vehicle and tow the thing away from the bridge. That said, just blow the bridge already. Could a Bailey Bridge really not have been brought up to span that gap?
This is maybe D+1. That kind of bulky engineer equipment is not coming to the beach that early. Along with the trucks needed to transport it to them. It took several days to set up the artificial harbor to begin getting supplies to the invading forces. Until then they had what they brought and what could come on landing craft.
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Old 02-14-2020, 01:36 PM
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This is maybe D+1. That kind of bulky engineer equipment is not coming to the beach that early. Along with the trucks needed to transport it to them. It took several days to set up the artificial harbor to begin getting supplies to the invading forces. Until then they had what they brought and what could come on landing craft.
CPT Miller's cross in the cemetery says June 13.
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Old 02-14-2020, 03:08 PM
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CPT Miller's cross in the cemetery says June 13.
The Mulberry’s were still being built then although I believe they were partially operational.

I was wrong about how soon the Baileys were built. The first one was built at Pegasus Bridge on about D+2 in order to get heavier traffic across.

A couple of differences between that and the bridge in the movie. Pegasus Bridge is very close to Sword Beach. It was captured on D-Day by glider and reenforced by land the same day. The bridge in the movie seemed to be far inland and the link up didn’t happen for a week.


As the quote from the movie above showed they were ready to blow the bridge. But ideally they were to hold it and keep it intact for follow up forces. Its a pretty typical military order.

Last edited by Loach; 02-14-2020 at 03:23 PM.
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Old 02-14-2020, 07:23 PM
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What?

Its explicitly stated in the movie that they could blow the bridge at any time, the sticky bombs had nothing to do with the bridge.
I'll watch it again, but I'm sure that you see Hanks explaining the sticky bomb, then you see the guys in a small boat, making sticky bombs and attaching them to the bridge supports.
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Old 02-14-2020, 08:18 PM
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I'll watch it again, but I'm sure that you see Hanks explaining the sticky bomb, then you see the guys in a small boat, making sticky bombs and attaching them to the bridge supports.
That doesn't make sense. The sticky bombs were explosives in a sock covered in grease, explicitly to stick to the treads of a tank and disable it. The guys arming the bridge used the same explosives just not with the sock and grease, because why would they?

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Old 02-14-2020, 09:42 PM
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I'll watch it again, but I'm sure that you see Hanks explaining the sticky bomb, then you see the guys in a small boat, making sticky bombs and attaching them to the bridge supports.
The bridge was rigged to blow before Hanks and crew got there.

Hanks asks whether they have explosives, gets told that they have enough Comp B "to blow the bridge twice," then explains the sticky bomb. Then you see the grunts REMOVING the extra Comp B that already was placed under the bridge for use in making the sticky bombs.
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Old 02-14-2020, 10:33 PM
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Then you see the grunts REMOVING the extra Comp B that already was placed under the bridge for use in making the sticky bombs.
Ooh, good memory! I'd forgotten that the sticky bombs came from the already-wired bridge.

Last edited by squeegee; 02-14-2020 at 10:33 PM.
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Old 02-14-2020, 11:06 PM
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Sticky bomb scene
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Old 02-16-2020, 10:46 AM
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There’s a movie about the 82nd Airborne’s battle for the La Fiere bridge that’s scheduled for this year. Titled “No Better Place to Die” and written & directed by Dale Dye. I think this battle heavily influenced Spielberg for the SPR bridge battle.
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