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Sometimes our route through the forests would take us past a concentration camp site.
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Wolf Creek Pass Revisited, (2)

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Sometimes, however, our route through the forests would take us past a concentration camp site.
Just driving past was enough.

They say that the birds don't sing there.
There is an atmosphere. It is heavy.
And it was very sobering indeed.

During very busy periods, our trucks might be loaded for us, overnight, to give a quick turnaround.
We would stop outside of a designated B & B.
We left the engines running, and went in for a meal and bed.
After a bare 8 hours, we would be back outside of the B & B; our trucks would be loaded, engines running, and facing back down the road.

On one such turnaround was in Hermansberg, a lovely little village in the forest.
Most of the people in these areas are in agriculture or forestry.
It was, then, very non-tourist, and consequently, English-speaking Germans, in those areas, were rare.

I badly need a new stove for my cab brew ups.
I was very tired, and also tired of struggling with my bad German for many weeks.
I went into a rather smart little camping store.
Without thinking too much, I said, “ I don’t suppose you speak English do you?”
To my total amazement, the gentleman behind the counter replied, in better English than my own,
“Yes, indeed I do Sir”.

It transpired that he had been a POW, in England, and held fond memories of our country.
I have never forgotten a certain lovely little toy I had, which was made for me by a German POW.
You should remember that toys were not exactly a priority during the war.
Even sweets, or sugar, (you couldn't have both). were rationed. (Was it 2 or 4 ounces a fortnight?).

Anyway, we got on great.
The thing about working abroad, and off the beaten track, is that you get to meet the real people of that country.
It must be worth ten times the experience of going there as a tourist.

A few days later, a German colleague and I were heading south on a two-man run.
We had a less ancient MAN, with a vertical gate, (up and down with the gear stick).
We were going down the side of a steep hill. Or mountain.
With the inevitable steep drop on one side.
It was beautiful scenery.
I was driving, we were heavily loaded, and I was taking it slowly.
Then, the nightmare we all dread.
My brakes just faded away!

‘hairpin county and switchback city’
It was just like the song.
Well, what can you do?
Using more brute force than skill, I managed to get down into first.
In fact I don’t think skill came into it.
It was just a matter of hanging onto the wheel.
Rather like Slim Pickens riding the 'A' bomb down to destruction at
the end of Dr. Strangelove.

Luckily, we had passed the tighter bends before the speed built up.
Luckily, nothing got in our way as we hurtled down using the entire road on bends.
Luckily, there was a long stretch of clear, level road, at the bottom.
And still, would you believe, no cars or other vehicles in our path.

When we stopped, I was just totally amazed.
And shocked.
I just could not believe it.
And, incredibly, we had lost none of the load.

I had been driving carefully.
I did get down into first.
But it was still pure luck that had saved us.

Any accident, or situation, like the one above, you walk away from, is a plus.
You will have learnt something without getting hurt.

I think this happened just after HGV tests came into being in the UK.
Nowadays, drivers are better educated, and can avoid working for cowboy hauliers, (if there are any left).
Unless they’re young and desperate.

When I drive past a bad lorry accident, nowadays, I often think ‘There, but for luck, and the Grace of God, go I’.

Wolf Creek Pass is an old trucking song about this type of incident. (Truckin section, MP3 playlist)
There is a degree of humour, perhaps a bit ‘tongue in cheek’ to some degree, in this song.
Unfortunately, when this happens to you in real life there is little humour.

Mike Dubin

Small pop-up, Flash player. Plays music in background. 60's playlist.
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