THE COLD WAR
US Army Engineers in Europe
After the Second World War (1939 - 1945), many American troops were stationed in Europe, now trying to keep their former ally the Soviet Union at bay. One way of securing a quick enough response to hostilities or emergencies in the European sphere was by establishing so-called POMCUS sites (also called POMSS). These were large depots of material and equipment configured in sets assigned to units to support their rapid deployment and combat readiness. This way, in time of crises, only the troops themselves had to be transported from the USA to Europe. The troops destined for serving with NATO in Europe in case of escalations would train on similar equipment in the USA. In the case of an escalation, the troops would be flown into Europe and connect with their equipment - from tanks to uniforms and tooth brushes - ready for quick deployment.
Some of the equipment was assigned to the 368th Engineer Battalion (their crest is at the top of the page). In peace-time, the 368th basically is a military construction company. They work not only for the military but also do many civilian jobs. The 386th Eng BN was never shipped to Europe to counter an escalation. However, engineers units that were stationed in peace-time Europe were paramount in the rebuilding of Western Europe after the war. These peace-time construction activitžies continued even after the end of the Cold War in 1989, for example in Kosovo and Lithuania.
More information about the 368th Engineers Battalion can be found here
The 368th probably did have equipment in storage in Europe as well. That included dump trucks, the real "working horses" of the Engineers whereever they go. With a shorte wheelbase than the normal cargo truck, it is more manouverable and better suited to handle heavy loads in tight corners. With it came the Dump Truck Troop Carrier Kit, making it a troop carrier for 12 soldiers as well. Without preparations, the trucks can cross up to 30 inches of water without problem. With the Fording Kit installed, they can cross a stagering 75 inches of water depth!
One of these vehicles, the 5-ton dump truck with registration number 5D7896, had been stored ready for action for over 25 years. After that, in the late 1990s this truck was sold as surplus from the NATO POMCUS-set 6 in the Netherlands. When sold, the truck had moved in total less than 100 miles and its engine had clocked about 100 running hours. It was then used (abused is a better word) for 10 years as a garbage - dump truck on a large camping in the northeast of the Netherlands, close to the waddensea. In 2010, we got this truck for a minimal, symbolic amount from the owner for our museum and our projects.
Our "new" truck, a 1973 Kaiser Jeep Corporation 5-ton dump truck M51A2 as we got it
The still fully functional truck is now being repaired and restored with its original colors and registration signs. We will also add back the original Troop Carrier Kit.
Once restored, the truck will be used as eye-catcher for some of our actions and for an exhibition on the presence of the US Army Engineers in Europe after the Second World. In addition, one of our partners, the Municipality of Nove Hrady, runs an open air museum exhibition on the cold war. This exhibition is located in the former Czech-Austrian border crossing facilities at the outskirts of Nove Hrady. At special events, the truck will be used as part of this open air exhibition. It will also be used at other special events in the region, like historical vehicle events, museum meetings, memorial days, fund-raising events, and so on.
Not in the least, the truck will be used actively in its original use as construction vehicle for projects of us and our partners. For example, it will play a role in the planned restoration of a 3-mile long small-gauge peat excavation railroad and will be used to help rebuild the former peat excavation workshop into a historic blacksmith workshop. Finally, the truck will be offered as support vehicle in case of human emergency situations, for example in times of severe snow calamities or flooding (which are becoming increasingly common in the Czech Republic and neighboring Austria).
More information on the history and restoration of the truck can be found here.
We still need funds to complete the restoration of the truck and the other parts of the exhbition. Please help us achieve our goal with a donation.
© Robert Dulfer (2021)