Armed soldiers guard Murray bridges

Within a few days after the announcement of World War 11 in 1939, the Commonwealth announced that the two most important bridges in the State - the road and rail bridges at Murray Bridge - must be guarded day and night.

Armed soldiers were placed on each end of the bridges and vehicles crossing and near the areas were searched. Later patrols also guarded the pumping station located near the river between the two bridges, and the electrical generating station, located on Mary Terrace at the rear of the flour mill.

Sentry duty carried on regardless of weather conditions as the bridges were a vital connection between east and west. During the first six months this was carried out first by the Australian Military Forces' 10th Battalion, C Company that consisted of men from the local area.

The guard was made up of 36 men, later up to 60, living under canvas near the railway bridge.

A building contract was given to a local business for a cookhouse, shower and sanitary accommodation, which is now the site of a large undercover shopping centre.

When the AMF were needed overseas, the Volunteer Defence Corps took over the duties. The changing of the guard was between 9am and 5pm which was watched by many of the locals. By 1942 the Australian Infantry Forces were guarding the bridges.

The narrow footway along the railway bridge was quite dangerous in the evenings and was not without incident.

It is recorded that one soldier slipped and his rifle fell in the river.

Unfortunately in the early hours of the morning on 21st April, 1942, a 41-year-old Sergeant from the AIF Garrison Guard fell from the railway bridge and was fatally injured.

"A Community Saving Our Past"

At attention: Guards who were posted to guard the bridges included R Channon, C Marshall, J Carey, H Pope, J Morris, N Eatts

At attention: Guards who were posted to guard the bridges included R Channon, C Marshall, J Carey, H Pope, J Morris, N Eatts