Second World War: Explosion at the Ammunition Plant

Nebraskan recalls a near-miss while working at an ammunition plant during the Second World War.

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I had a narrow escape after my husband, Louis, went overseas and I came back to Nebraska. I went to work at the Carnusher Ammunition Plant, putting boosters in the big bombs. 

I had worked there several months when I was transferred to driving a donkey (Ford tractor hauling ammo). This particular day I was coming down the ramp, walking with the maintenance man. I got my donkey and stopped in the building where they were filling the bombs to see if they needed any more TNT. I talked to Shorty and the foreman, then went on to the next building.

I had just gotten to the next building when the one I was just in blew up. Nobody ever knew what caused the accident. Everyone was killed, and they never did find enough parts of the maintenance man or foreman to identify them.

When we heard the explosion, everyone tore outside. The racks and cement were coming down around us. My first thought was, "This is what Louis is going through in Germany." A truck came and picked us up to take us to the change house - it was a mess, and our clothes were, too. They took us to the cafeteria, and everything there was a mess, too. One of the girls who rode out with us every day was killed.

I feel I certainly had an angel on my side. When I went back later to get my belongings, they told me my donkey was still in the doorway, and my sweatshirt was on it.

Dorothy Drake
Arcadia, Nebraska

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.