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Post Info TOPIC: Great War Era Canal Barges


Hero

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Great War Era Canal Barges
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I realize this is very much off topic, but was hoping some European members; particularly French or Belgian, might be able to enlighten me regarding this subject.


I am curious about the commercial barge traffic conducted on the many rivers, canals , and navigatable streams of the occupied region of norther France , and Belgium.  They proved useful to the transportation needs of the Germans as well as the allies.


I would like information regarding the barges in use; their general deminsions. (In America, the canals were generally given a uniform width and depth; thus I assume the same was applied by navigational engineers in Europe.)  Finally, were the Freycinet barges in service during this period on French and Belgian canals, and were they of a standard size? 



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Legend

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Don't know if this helps -


The was badly disrupted the Northern French canal network. Being close to the French/Belgian border, in peace time, Cambrai formed a hub and junction for many of the French and Belgian canals.


The British took a number of large French canal boats, idle because of the disruption, and equiped them as floating hospitals. A flotilla of such boats was based in the lower reaches of the River Somme.



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Legend

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28juni14 wrote:



 (In America, the canals were generally given a uniform width and depth; thus I assume the same was applied by navigational engineers in Europe.)  



Just as with the later railways there was a sort of broad 'gauge' narrow 'gauge' dichotomy. In general in Britain narrow boats became the norm (most but not all of Britains canals are 'narrow', on the continent the need to be able accomodate river traffic meant that more wide canals were built (but there were still some narrow canals). I believe that some early British coastal MTBs were transfered from the Channel to the Med by being strapped to French barges and taken through the canal system.

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Hero

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Thank you, Centurian.  The floating hospitals is a most intersting bit of information.  I entertain a number of assumptions regarding the barges; one of which is that by this period the larger barges( Freycinet & Luxemotor ) would have had engines fitted for self-propulsion.


After entering my post, I found the standard Freycinet size was 58.5 meters in length, and some 5.05 meters wide!  They certainly appear to have been robust in design. 


Likely all have seen the rather famous pic of a smaller barge pressed into service by the Germans for the purpose of a water-borne carraige for a 17cm "Samuel".   The barge is positioned bow to stern in a canal,  with each end tethered to a bank.  It has just fired, and the subsequent quell of waves around the barge are easily discernible.


 



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Legend

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Just a couple more sidelights


The AEF originaly used barges to ship all its medical supplies from Le Havre . However this proved unreliable so a railway and lorry route was devised


The following extract from the memoires of an ambulance driver also reflects on the use of barges by the medical services






We had our ups and downs like any other community but never was there any division or strained feeling between V.A.D. and F.A.N.Y. once we were working together. The duties were meeting the trains and taking the wounded to hospitals or trains or barges. The very seriously wounded travelled by canal barge which was very gentle. We used to meet them in Calais and knew they needed the most skilled and careful driving.. We had competitions as to who could balance a bell on a stretcher for the longest distance. [65]



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Hero

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I am wondering if any of our French participants can shed some light on this subject.

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Hero

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....thought I might bring this old subject back to life in hopes others out there may have an interest in canal barges.

I've asked this question before;
It appears motor launches( tug boats ) were used  at the turn of the century to pull multiple barges in route.    Would anyone have furhter information on these craft ? 

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