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The Accidental Detonation of 4,000 Tons of Explosives In England, WW2

On November 27th, 1944, a seismograph in Switzerland recorded the effects of a massive explosion in far distant England. At first seismologists thought it was an earthquake.

What the instrument recorded was actually the simultaneous detonation of 4,000 tons of bombs and ammunition stored underground at RAF Fauld near the village of Hanbury, England. Seventy people died of whom 18 were never found, and numerous homes and shops were destroyed.

Most of the resulting deaths were from the release of six million gallons of water from the reservoir that engulfed not only a nearby plasterboard factory but everything else in its way, too.

Aftermath of the RAF Fauld explosion.

The blast left a crater 100 feet in depth and 750 feet wide and is thought to have been approximately one-fifth of the force of the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

Mark Rowe has spent 30 years researching the incident. He said a RAF inquiry, published in 1974, determined it was an accident that was avoidable.

According to the report, someone must have attempted to take out an exploder with a brass chisel, this caused a spark setting off other ordnance.

Sign at the explosion site, giving details of the event

The report concluded negligence is indicated by supervising personnel who didn’t have the knowledge, didn’t possess an adequate sense of responsibility or an absence of appropriate direction from senior managers.

Rescue efforts took three months because it was hampered by 10,000 tons of rubble and six million gallons of water from the reservoir and pockets of gas.

To look at the location today, one would not believe a tragedy happened on the very spot; except for memorial plaques and warning signs, nothing seems amiss . Twelve acres of the pristine country still contains unexploded ordnance. Near the crater’s edge is the first commemoration of the disaster with the carved names of those who were killed.

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