Today in History, December 12: 1917 –
Rail disaster in the Alps. Between 1,000 and 1,200 French soldiers had Christmas leave from the Italian front, and boarded an overloaded train bound for France over the Alps.
The train’s engineer refused to begin the trip…the passenger cars did not have enough brakes to make the trip safely. He changed his mind when when a well-meaning French officer pointed a pistol to his head…intent on his troops seeing their families for Christmas.
As the train reached the bottom of a long grade near Modane, France, the engineer’s fears were realized…the brakes would not slow the train and when the train reached a wooden bridge it derailed, most of the passenger cars bursting into flames. At least half of the soldiers were killed in the horrific crash…over 500. Listen to the professionals.