62nd Highway Patrol (MP)
 Germany      1948 - 1958

Stories of the Highway Patrol





nglish translation; Article appeared in the Nuernberger Nachrichten, February 21, 1957










Ammunition Vehicle Exploded


Nurnburg 21 Feb. 57---On the dangerous downgrade of the Nurnburg - Hof Autobahn at the Hienberg Hill, an American truck, loaded with ammunitions, started skidding yesterday morning and turned down an embankment. Gasoline running out ignited the vehicle. Even before the fire, attacked with several fire extinguishers, could be put out, flames enveloped the load and brought this to explode. The two drivers, two American Pfc' s could be saved from the burning vehicle just in time. Both of them were admitted to the Nurnberg US Army Hospital with serious burns.


At approximately 0815 hrs, the convoy coming from the troop training area Grafenwoehr and going to Munich, passed the Rest House on the Hienberg Hill. Seconds later the filling station attendant noticed a column of yellow smoke rising. From the terrace of the Rest-House he observed the flaming vehicle below the right hand curve. The road maintenance worker Leonhard Raum who, with some helpers, had spread fine gravel on the icy roadway shortly before that, noticed the burning vehicle at the same time. He immediately notified the Land Police and the Red Cross. However before they could arrive on the scene of the accident, the first grenades began exploding with ear splitting noise.


For one hour this dangerous fireworks lasted. It rained shrapnel in an area of 400 meters, forcing all the assistants to seek safety in foxholes and ditches. The patrons of the Rest-House also went to the safety of the back rooms.


An eye witness of the accident reported, several vehicles started skidding on the downgrade roadway. The vehicle marked with the red warning signs "Explosives" apparently was carried out of the right curve due to applying the brakes sharply, and turned down the several meters high embankment into the woods. From following vehicles soldiers immediately ran over to the scene with foam fire extinguishers, trying to put out the flames of the running gasoline. When the officer in charge of the convoy realized the immediate danger of an explosion he ordered the soldiers to take "full cover". None too soon, as the detonation of the exploding grenades ripped through the paralyzing stillness. Up to this time it could not be determined for sure how many grenades exploded. An Ordnance unit yesterday afternoon disarmed the ammunition which had not exploded, 15 cm artillery grenades. The grenades were disarmed at the scene of the accident and then taken away. The originally planned blasting of the ammunition was not carried out, in order not to increase the already severe damages of the woods.


The thoughtful and circumspect behavior of the workman Leonhard Raum can be thanked for the fact that a possible larger disaster was prevented. Raum stopped all following traffic to keep it out of the way of the exploding grenades. Several hundred vehicles were stopped on the Autobahn. Only at noon the traffic was rerouted to the North-bound lane.


How could this accident happen? The chief of the road maintenance section Fischbach, Mr.

Schneider, who was at the Hienberg Hill a short time after the accident told us the roadway had been well sanded with small gravel. Most likely the heavy vehicles had pushed the gravel to the side, resulting in some slick and icy spots on the roadway. In Schneider" opinion, however, this could not have been the reason for the skid, the road had been in a traffic safe condition for winter conditions.


The Military Police, ordered to the scene of the accident by radio closed off an area of 500 meters around the scene of the accident. In order to have a better view of the safety measures taken, a helicopter was ordered to the scene, which gave orders to the safety troops from the air by way of radio contact. In the late afternoon hours, the detour was lifted.



This is an English translation of the article that appeared in the Nuernberger Nachrichten on Thursday February 21, 1957.



This story previously appeared in Volume # 5, Issue # 4, July-August 2002 edition of "The White Mice"


<< Previous page

^ Top of page ^

Next page >>

HP Home Page

© 2001-2020  (and beyond) by the Webmaster and the  62nd. Highway Patrol Association.
ALL rights reserved.©