General Patton's II Corps rides the Central : LUSENET : Central of Georgia Railway Historical Soc : One Thread

Just wanted to pass this little tid-bit of information along. While growing up in Columbus, GA as a youth, I was a member of the Columbus Society of Model Railroad Engineers out of Richard Bryants home on Alta Vista Drive. I had the great fortune to meet many retired Central employees and to hear some fantastic oral history about the railroad. One story was when General Patton was ordered to move his II Corps from Fort Benning to Savanna for transport to North African and the invasion of Morocco. According to the story I was told, it took some seventeen sections (trains) alone just to move all the tanks. That does not include the troops, support equipment and spare parts. Because of the importance of this operations, the Division Superintendent at Columbus rode the last train out of Columbus aboard General Pattons private car.

John Walker USN Retired Norfolk, VA

-- John Ross Walker (,), August 27, 2000


I don't think so Todd. According to my mother, she did some record digging and came across an accident report. Apparently the truck that these POW's were riding in took a corner too fast, turned over and they were pitched out.

John Walker Norfolk, VA

-- John Ross Walker, US Navy (Retired) (, September 03, 2000.

Any chance that the "accident" on the 18th could have been a firing squad? Todd

-- Todd Horton (, September 03, 2000.

Tom, noted your comment about WWII POWs being transported via the Central to a Camp located near Opelika. Just for the record, there were German and Italian POWs encamped at Fort Benning also. This may sound strange because of all the security concerns. But apparently the Army had them working on Public Works Projects throughout the post. The reason I know this is because my mother used to work at the Post Cemetery for Civil Service years ago. If you get a chance to visit the Post Cemetery off Custer Road at Fort Benning youll find a section way in the back were some 18 German POWs are buried and I dont remember how many Italian POWs also. Strangely enough, the cemetery is in view of the old Centrals Fort Benning branch line right-of-way. The tracks been taken up back sometime in the 1980s. Also if you look at the graves of the 18 German POWs they all died on the 18th of August 1944. Apparently they were involved in come kind of accident on Post. The local chapter of the German-American and Italian-American cultural society comes out the Post Cemetery annually, cleans the graves, places flowers and flags to commemorate their war dead. It is something to behold.

John Walker, US Navy Retired Norfolk, VA

-- John Ross Walker, US Navy Retired (, September 01, 2000.

A lot of military trains moved through Columbus during both World War 2 and the Korean conflict. They were called MAINs, which is an abbreviation I don't recall. The Central also handled POW moves from Savannah to a POW camp near Opelika. These trains had all the windows blanked out so the German POWs couldn't plot an escape route. The Central also handle oil trains to various military bases because of the German U-Boat threat to coastal shipping. The powder plant at Coosa Pines also saw a good bit of Central business. Since housing was scarce at Childersburg, the Central ran passenger trains from Birmingham to Childersburg to handle the first and second shift workers. The Central also hauled most of the steel, cement, and construction materials to build this plant. The plant was heavily guarded, as were both the Central's tunnels and Hatchett Creek bridge. In later years, the Central handled an Air Force car on the Seminole that provided an exercise for pilots in finding and destroying it. The car apparently would be routed over various railroads, and the pilots would be given only an approximate location. They had to find it, and their bomb run was scored. My dad recalls it was heavily guarded. In closing, in early 1944 my dad had a train order addressed to fifth 29. They were meeting fourth 38 at Opelika. I don't want to say the Central actually WON WWII, but.... Regards, and sorry to ramble on so long, Tom Holley

-- Tom Holley (, August 27, 2000.

Do you know over how many days did this 17 train movement take place or about how many trainloads did they try to move per day??? Also do you know anything about the security involving these movements??? I've heard that often during World War II military movements were kept as secretive as possible although it looks like it would be hard to disguise military tanks.

Thanks for your very interesting post.

Bryan Smith Columbia AL

-- Bryan Smith (, August 27, 2000.

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