At least twice, the US Army pulled on plumber's coveralls and
assisted the local population in the Bad Kissingen area with
water issues. Once, in 1946, when there was too much and again,
in 1976, when there was not enough. Two brief historical
footnotes in the long relationship between Americans and Germans
in the Rhoen region.
The Saale River, under normal circumstances, tamely winds south
through Bad Kissingen. It is just large enough to accommodate
sight seeing boats in modern times and small cargo barges in the
19th century. It is a picturesque accompaniment to the town.
The late Winter of 1946, however, found the Saale reaching
record flood stage as it was swollen with melting snow and
uncharacteristically early Spring rains. Bad Kissingen was
occupied by US forces although the central part of the town had
been reopened to German civil life. From the hotels that were
the billets and office spaces for the Army Air Force units still
sorting out in the immediate post war period, they watched the
At the high water mark, much of the
down town area in the vicinity of Roosevelt Strasse, formerly
Adolf Hitler Strasse, and known both before all the renaming and
currently as Kurhaus Strasse was flooded as was the Luitpold
Park District and Casino on the opposite side of the river. The
main vehicle bridge over the Saale that had been destroyed just
prior to the American Army's arrival in 1945 had not yet been
repaired, the pedestrian footbridge was intact but the shore
access points were well under water. American heavy trucks could
still negotiate most of the roads; the Germans relied on row
Once the flood had crested, both
the local German fire department and nearby US Army engineers
began the slow process of pumping the city dry. The
contributions of the engineers took on special significance
because the enlisted man's club, the Town and Country, was
located in the Luitpold Park and the basement was fully flooded
with the tables and chairs, not to mention the liquor, floating
around the first floor!! By mid March, although there was much
cleaning to do, the situation was returning to normal.
Interestingly, major flooding again hit BK only two years ago,
however, the Germans had it well under control without US
Jim Culberson sent this
image of an unidentified Army Air Corps Lt in Bad
Kissingen during the flood of 1946.
From Tustin's BK History Book, the pedestrian bridge over
the Saale, footings awash in the flood.
926th Signal Bn history pamphlet captures the efforts to
pump the town dry.
Same source, looking across the Saale River and into
the flooded Luitpold Park district.
Major (Ret) Mike McGehee
Some of you troopers who were in BK in 1976 may remember this:
In the town of Sulzdorf, just a small village about 20
kilometers east of Mellrichstadt generally heading towards the
border, they developed some sort of water problem and the town
basically went dry. The Eaglehorse commander, LTC Gilbreath,
got involved and we were tasked to assist in trucking bulk water
in the buffalo trailers and pods to the town. Eaglehorse 6
named me the " PO " on this. I thought this was fine, then I
learned that PO stood for Project Officer and the water mission
was my responsibility. The NCOs, particularly SGT (SGM Ret)
Ken Champion had it fully under control; actually, about all I
had to do was show up and get my picture taken.
In the photo,
Sulzdorf Burgermeister Kurt Gutzeit is shown in the foreground.
He had a Russian bullet hole thru his left elbow and drove a
little red Gogomobile! Local milk companies also hauled water
with the local volunteer fire departments pumping the contents
of the buffaloes and the milk trucks and into the Sulzdorf
cistern until the water problems were fixed.
In August, once things were back to normal, we were invited to a
"Wasserfest" celebration in the town. Burgermeister Gutzeit
threw a party for us with SCO LTC (Ret) Gilbreath and the SXO,
(Col Ret) Joe Driscoll present. It was in a big tent near the
water storage tank. That's what I recall, can anyone else
remember any more details??