When friends were bombed to thwart foes#

Posted 2024-02-28

Pont Lions

The Lion Bridge was completed by the Paris-Lyon-Marseille railway in early 1868 to link Arles to Lunel across the Rhone. It is said to have been "the first fixed structure thrown on the Grand Rhône after centuries of boat decks and various ferries". The rails carried Cevennes mountains coal southeast to customers beyond the Rhone. The bridge provided a two-track viaduct, where the Pierre-Louis Rouillard sculpted lion sentries on each bank abutment made an imposing, artistic statement. The bridge was a workhorse of commerce through the decades until the time came for the allied forces to liberate France, at which point it became instead a critical target, as it was one of several strategic points where transport of Nazi supplies could be decisively cut.

Allied bombing

On August 6th, 1944, 76 years after the bridge opened, B-26 Marauders came calling, and some of their bombs hit the mark and ended the bridge's tenure. The train route was indeed disrupted -- and with permanence. The bombing was one in scores of similar actions that made possible the eventual, decisive allied repulsion of Nazi forces from France.

Le pont des Lions bombardé

Following the bombing, the bridge wreckage and the two middle piers were removed, but the bridge was never rebuilt. The regal lion sculptures, however, remained intact atop their river-bank abutments and have survived to the present, improved by some periodic restoration work.

Pikes Peak viewed from the north

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