1960 Fatal Artillery Accident at Grafenwöhr

[See relevance to this history]

[Associated Press]  Grafenwoehr, Germany, Sept. 4, 1960 - Three thousand United States soldiers paid homage today at a simple memorial ceremony to sixteen comrades, victims of a training accident Friday. Soldiers of the Third Armored Division assembled in a hollow — with 16 gaps in the ranks — before an altar between two fir trees. Sixteen steel helmets on tables near the altar bore testimony to the accident that killed fifteen men outright and wounded twenty-seven when an overcharged 8-inch howitzer shell overshot an artillery range and landed in a tent camp. One of the injured soldiers died yesterday. All were from the 3rd Reconnaissance Squadron, 12th Calvary, 3rd Armored Division.

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In April 2008 I received the following email from Farley Fox:

I wish to thank you very much for posting the pictures of Frankfurt High School, and the other pictures of Germany from that era. My Dad was stationed there from 1960 to 1963. We lived in the Edwards Housing Area. Dad was stationed at Drake Edwards Kaserne, and I attended Atterbury elementary School. Did another tour from 1966 to 1969 when I went to Frankfurt High School. They were the best years of my life. Also found the bitterswet epitaph singularly appropos. The very landscape of our lives IS gone forever, no do-overs. I know, I went back to Aschaffenburg (where we did our second tour) in 2001. Although Germany has a certain timeless quality to it. Indeed all things must pass.

Going over your web site I saw your picture of you in the Army in 1960 in Germany. You had mentioned the horrific artillery accident at Grafenwoehr in September of that year. I got to looking through some old photos that my Dad had taken over there and lo and behold there are pictures there of the memorial service held in the field for the sixteen fallen solders who were victims of that accident.

The pictures were taken by my father, SSG Lowell Fox, in case anyone might remember him. He was in the 3rd Armored Division stationed at Drake Edwards Kaserne in Frankfurt. Although I don't remember the exact unit. You can mention that his son Farley (that's me) farleyfox@att.net happily scanned and donated them, if you like.

March 2021, Farley confirms his father was in Grafenwöhr at the time of the accident ("I remember my Mom nearly going insane with worry when it happened").

- Frank

  1. Howitzer Overshot Kills 15, Injures 27 at Grafenwoehr, Stars and Stripes vol.19 no.138, Saturday, 3 September 1960, page 1: "Fifteen 3rd Armd Div soldiers were killed early Friday (Sep 2, 1960), and 27 injured when an 8-inch howitzer shell with an incorrect powder charge overshot its mark and landed in a camp area after a morning roll call ... The shell smashed into three tents occupied by soldiers. It tore through one tent, exploded in the second, and sent fragments hurtling into the third."
  2. Little-known Grafenwoehr accident remains vivid to those who lived it, nearly 60 years later, Martin Egnash, Stars and Stripes, 1 September 2018: "the memory of that day lives on in the soldiers who were there. Retired Gen. Colin Powell ... was one of them."
  3. Tragedy at Grafenwoehr in September, 1960, 3rd Armored Division History Foundation.
  4. Artillery Accident of 1960: The deadliest event in the history of the Grafenwoehr Training Area, Johanna Pschierer, USAG Bavaria Public Affairs, 23 August 2018.
  5. Cold War Casualties, Association of 3D Armored Division Veterans, accessed 6 May 2021. This page has a list of all those killed and wounded; scroll down to the 1960 section to see the lists.
For more information, use this Google search.

Created by Photogallery 3.07 March 15, 2021