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The Hugie Express

Sat, May 15th, 2004
Submitted by: Walter A. Empey


For several decades this slow but efficient railroad wonder has served tile many communities along the Rhine Valley, It has faithfully carried passengers going to work and children going to School. No matter what stands in the way, the Hugie Express has the right-of-way, and it has left quite a few scars on autos and trucks. It also was used as a Troop Carrier during two Major Squabbles, and was the only Train and Track in Germany that escaped bombardment during both! The automobile invasion has somewhat reduced the chores of this little Express, but it still shuffles along ferrying a few passengers here and there. The Express will TOOT its way through the Communities for a few years yet! As far as the records show, only two Canadian Airmen have been checked out as conductor -- this was while the regular conductor left the train on his daily beer call and the train went for an unscheduled ride along the Rhine! It was just one of those days.

In June 1959, the Royal Canadian Air Force had the unique distinction of having two Four Wing personnel became the first Canadians to qualify in the operation of the famous Hugie Express. The exercise commenced around five p.m. in the village of Huegelsheim just north of the Four Wing Base.

A number of RCAF personnel were quenching their thirst in good fashion in the Gruener Baum Gasthof in Huegelsheim. As luck would have it, some of the lads had unwittingly parked their vehicles on the right of way of the Huegie Cannonball.
Yes, you guessed correctly; it wasn't long before the express came steaming down the track with whistle blowing and lights flashing. Much to the disgust of the engineer and conductor, their rather tiny whistle encroached not a mite upon the din in the song-filled salon of the Gasthaus.

Breaking a long standing tradition, the Hugie Express made an unscheduled halt and deposited one irate conductor and one absolutely "fit-to-be-tied" engineer at the door to the aforementioned Gasthaus. A few choice German expressions, not readily available in the Berlitz Language Book, were used to inform the Canadians of their transgression.

Now any innocent bystander observing this milieu would have bet his last red Pfennig that no Canadian in the place in any condition whatsoever to do any scheming. However RCAF personnel have been trained to function under the most adverse conditions including snow, hail, sleet, rain, hangover and semi-consciousness.
Gathering their wits about them, the Canucks apologized profusely. They offered to buy the two trainmen some beer while the automobiles were being removed from the right of way. Now among this venturesome crowd were two absolutely daring individuals to whom such an opportunity once a wailed could not be denied. In short, the two trainmen were soon relinquished of their mode of transportation.

The two Canadians safely conducted the engine and two passenger cars through Soellingen to the other side of Stollhofen. Except for losing some points when they clobbered two chickens at the Soellingen level crossing, the two RCAF personnel completed the test successfully.

It is understood that in the aftermath of this journey - train officials, German Polizei and members of the upper echelons could not wait to greet the two adventurous Canadians.

(Tremblay Photo)

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