Myerstown, PA Troop Train Rams Freight Train, Jan 1946



Myerstown, Jan. 18 (AP) - At least three persons were reported killed and 22 injured in the collision of a troop train carrying 192 soldiers bound for discharge and a Reading railroad freight train tonight five miles west of here.
Reading spokesman in Philadelphia said the fireman of the troop train CHARLES W. HELLINGS, 32, Reading, was the only dead persons positively identified. The spokesman said Reading reports shortly before midnight showed only 13 injured. An unidentified railroader on the scene reported two soldiers known dead.
The troop train, carrying members of the 29th Infantry Division, was bound from Camp Stelton, N.J. to Camp Shelby, Miss., where the GI's including 12 officers, were scheduled for discharge, the railroad spokesman said.
The railroader said coal, spilled over the track from overturned freight cars, made it impossible to determine accurately the exact number of dead and injured but he was certain a number of soldiers were buried underneath the coal.
Ambulances from nearby Indiantown Gap Army center and Lebanon City hospital went to the wreck. The Indiantown Gap public relations officer said all bodies would be brought there.
The westbound tracks were torn up for more than a quarter of a mile, the railroader reported.
Wrecking crews dispatched from Harrisburg and Reading were hampered by the mass of debris. Piles of coal, spilled from the freight, littered the right-of-way for a quarter of a mile in the vicinity of the wreck.
Witnesses at the scene reported that more than half of the soldiers, mostly from Louisiana and Mississippi, suffered some injuries, but there was no confirmation by either railroad, Army or hospital officials working in the area.
A Reading spokesman said 17 cars and the locomotive of the eastbound freight train were tumbled from the track. Five troop cars of a nine-car train lay smashed in the ditch.
The Good Samaritan Hospital at Lebanon identified two of the injured brought there as HOWARD WILLIARD, 48, Philadelphia, engineer of the troop train, and RUSSELL JAMES, a soldier, of Shreveport, La.
Reading spokesman said the mishap was the first for the railroad since the carrier began hauling troops shortly before the war.

Pottstown Mercury Pennsylvania 1946-01-19