Elkton, MD Plant Explosion, May 1943

15 KNOWN DEAD, 54 INJURED IN ELKTON BLAST.

FIVE BUILDINGS DESTROYED IN EXPLOSION AT TRIUMPH CO.

Elkton, May 5 -- (AP) -- Rescue workers dug today into the charred ruins of five Triumph Explosives, Inc., buildings on the outskirts of this small war boom city seeking additional bodies while investigating officials sought to determine cause of an explosion in which 15 persons are known to have died.
Five of at least 54 persons injured in the explosion that was followed by fire were in serious condition and 19 others were under hospital treatment. Thirty women were given first aid and released.
Even as the wreckage was being cleared, other employes returned to work in other buildings, answering a call of Army, Navy and plant officials to "continue passing the ammunition."
One storage building was blown to bits and another was wrecked by a second explosion within seconds in mid afternoon yesterday. Fire spread to three others, burning many workers severely.
Window panes and plate glass in homes and business establishments were shattered and cracked by the explosion that was heard for miles around. Ambulances, fire equipment, Red Cross units, Civilian Defense workers, State police and others sped to the scene.
An official statement from Army and Navy officers and BENJAMIN F. PEPPER, Triumph president, paid high tribute to naval officers and company employes "who did notable rescue work in utter disregard of their personal safety."
The dead and injured were from many different states, having come here in the heavy influx of defense workers who caused the population of this little Gretna Green, famous all along the Atlantic seaboard, to jump from 3,516 in the 1940 census to an estimated 12,000 now.
The company hospital quickly was filled and the overflow was taken to Elkton's Union Hospital and to churches, in front of which crowds of anxious relatives gathered. Few families here do not have some members engaged in the plant.

Casualty List.
Elkton, May 5 -- (AP) -- The Triumph Explosives, Inc., issued an official casualty list today, 15 dead, and 54 injured in yesterday's blast.
Thirty women employes were released after treatment for minor injuries, and the remaining 24 were confined in two hospitals.
The identified dead:
MAUHEE NIDIFFER, Allentown Hill, W. Va.
SUSAN ROLLI, Eynon, Pa.
CHARLES MILLMAN, Camden, Del.
DELLA TRUMAN, Cedar Grove, W. Va.
ELLIS SIMMONS, Elkton.
IVA YOUNG, Ward, W. Va.
WILSON WANNER, Elkton.
MRS. HIRLEY GALMORE, Coatesville, Pa.
CHRISTINE ERBY, Raleigh, N.C.
GILBERT POORE, Warwick, Md.
HARRY RIAS, Dover, Del.
CHESTER WHALEY, Wilmington, Del.
MELVIN COLE, Still Pond, Md.
Three Men were not fully identified and the company withheld names.
Condition of the 24 hospitalized was announced, but injuries were not given. They were:
OLLIE MAY QUINN, Newark, Del., condition good.
WILLIAM D. ELLISSON, no address, fair.
Both in Elkton Hospital.
In Company Hospital:
ROSE GUNTHER, Wilmington, improved.
MILLIE MARKOFSKY, West Nanticoke, Pa., serious.
MAMIE PINKNEY, Millington, Md., good.
MARIE FOREMAN, Marcus Hook, Pa., fair.
EVA MARTIN, Chester, Pa., fair.
EMILY RINGOLD, Sassafras, Md., fair.
INEZ COOKS, Coatesville, Pa., fair.
JOHN REDDEN, Grand View, W. Va., serious.
GEORGE ULARY, North East, Md., serious.
FLETCHER HARRIS, Chestertown, Md., good.
ROBERT JOHNSON, Elkton, good.
ROBERT NICHOLS, no address, good.
JOHN W. WILLIAMS, Price, Md., serious.
MARION JOHNSON, Harrington, Del., good.
VICTORIA BECKWITH, North East, Md., fair.
MARY ALICE BAKER, Wilmington, fair.
TERESA HARDING, Newark, Del., good.
EVELYN JACKSON, New Castle, Del., good.
BIRDIE GILBERT, Worton, Md., good.
HELEN SATTERFIELD, Wilmington, good.
CORINE WOODS, Wilmington, serious.
ANNA PETERSON, Chester, Pa., fair.

The Salisbury Times Maryland 1943-05-05

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Comments

Elkton, MD Plant Explosion, May 1943

My mother worked at this plant during the war. I have her Employee ID here with me now. She went home the weekend the explosion occurred to visit her parents, in West Virginia. If not for this tragic explosion, my mother would not have come to Hampton Virginia. She got a job here working for NACA (NASA) @ Langley Field where she met my father.

My great grandmother, Addie

My great grandmother, Addie Watling Skinner was injured in this explosion, She had lasting damage to her knee and several scars from glass and other fragments. She spoke of it often.

My grandmother, grandfather

My grandmother, grandfather and two great aunts worked for Triumph Explosives. My aunts were not on this shift but my grandmother was scheduled to work it. At the same time, my grandfather was driving a truck of nitro (yes nitro that had to be transported in a sling contraption so it would not explode in transport). He arrived at the plant just after the plant explosion had taken place. He told me he saw many bodies, one was even impaled and hanging on the foot pegs of a phone pole. His heart nearly stopped trying to find my grandmother. Unbeknowing to him someone wanted to swap shifts with my grandmother that day and she did. She was not there, otherwise who knows if I would be here today?
I have two sheels from the plant in my den. The powder has been removed but I keep them on the shelf.

My mother also worked in

My mother also worked in this plant. I can remember her telling me about this explosion and how she happened to be off because of a recent foot injury.

Elkton and my Mother

My mother was a supervisor here. I have one of the pins granted to plants who produced the most ammo during a campaign. She worked for Triumph Explosives for three years. her name was Anna "Cass" Keehn. A widow, she placed her kids in an orphanage for the duration so she could work to support us. She contracted powder poisoning from the hours working in the plant with gunpowder blowing in the air they all breathed from the huge fans used to cool the workers in a time when there was no air conditioning. her skin turned gray-green and she lost all her teeth. Elkton figures large in my memoir, since she took me there once to stay with her for a weekend when I was only four yeaers old. Girls and tulle and silk slips and rolled stockings and cigarrettes and sewing machines to make wedding clothes for the visit to the JP in town abounded. Pretty heady stuff for a child. And great fun, as i recall.

Della Truman: Elkton, MD Triumph Explosives

My Aunt worked here. She was 21 years old and was one of those who lost her life. I am wondering if there are any people who worked there still living today. I would love to talk to them.
My mother said that Della was a beautiful young woman (I agree, I seen her picture) and very a very kind and loving heart.