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"Devices for Crossing Streams" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following description of a method of crossing streams was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 14, Dec. 17, 1942.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


The following report shows a method of crossing streams used by forces operating in India. By this method, swimmers or non-swimmers have been able to cross streams with full packs and sidearms.

The requirements are a bamboo or wooden pole 14 feet or more in length, and about 3 inches in diameter; practice if there is time; confidence and strict obedience to instructions.

The method used is to float the pole into the water at the edge of the river, and wade in keeping the pole to the front. When about chest deep, the pole is placed in a vertical position facing the direction of the current, i.e. upstream. The end of the pole is then forced down until it is between the feet; the pole is held firmly between the feet and knees. It is easier for beginners if they hold the pole by crossing the feet over, and then between the knees. The pole is then held between the insteps.

To float, the body is inclined slightly forward while the pole is held firmly between the feet and knees.

The important point; is that the knees must not be bent and the pole must be firmly gripped.

It will be found that the upper end of the pole will project out of the water about 2 feet in front. Direction can be maintained by paddling with the hands. No attempt should be made, or need be made, to grasp the pole with the hands.

Provided that the butt remains between the feet, and that the knees are not allowed to bend, one is bound to remain afloat and right side up.

A toggle and loop device for river crossing is believed to have originated with the Commando troops. Each man carried a 4-foot length of rope with a loop at one end and a toggle at the other, as shown below. By linking several of these together, ropes of various lengths are made, which are very useful in overcoming obstacles, crossing streams, etc.

[Toggle and Loop]
Toggle and Loop


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