The RAF Fauld Explosion

Discussion in 'General' started by Peter Clare, Oct 12, 2006.

  1. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    RAF Fauld Explosion

    The RAF Fauld explosion was a military accident which occurred at 11:11am on Monday, November 27, 1944 at the RAF Fauld underground munitions storage site.

    Between 3,100 and 3,600 metric tons (3,500 and 4,000 tons) of ordnance exploded – mostly comprising high explosives but including a variety of other types of weapons and including 500 million rounds of rifle ammunition. The resulting crater was 120 meters (400') deep and 1,200 meters (0.75 miles) across and is still clearly visible just south of the village of Fauld, to the west of Hanbury Hill in Staffordshire, England. A nearby reservoir containing 450,000 cubic meters of water was obliterated in the incident, along with a number of buildings.

    Whilst most of the storage facility was annihilated by the explosion, the site itself continued to be used for munition storage into the late 1950s.

    Together with the attempt to blow up Heligoland, this ranks amongst the largest non-nuclear explosion.

    Casualties
    At the time, there was no careful tally of the number of workers at the facility. So whilst the exact death toll is uncertain, it appears that about 75 people died in the explosion: 23 workers at the site - divided between RAF personnel and some Italian prisoners of war who were working there.
    41 people from a nearby plaster mill.
    perhaps a dozen farm workers who had been working nearby.

    Cause

    The cause of the disaster was not made clear at the time. In 1974, it was officially announced that the cause was probably a worker at the site who was working on removing the detonator from a live bomb. There is a conspiracy theory that a German V2 rocket hit the site and caused the subsequent explosion - a fact which would have been very embarrassing in 1944 and might, therefore, have been suppressed. The site of the explosion would, however, have been well out of the range of the V2.
     
  2. David Layne

    David Layne Well-Known Member

    Pictures of crater
     
  3. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    Talk about the big bang!

    Never heard of that accident.

    Were these people buried locally?

    Thanks Peter.
     
  4. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    From here
    Fauld explosion - Les 1

    The blast even registered in Switzerland on a Seismograph.

    Google Earth location. 52°50'49.77"N 1°43'50.38"W
     
  5. Kitty

    Kitty Very Senior Member

    Cheers for that Peter. Was this the one with all the incendaries that went up? Or was that another one in the North West? Will have to do some digging to see if I can find out.
     
  6. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    A list of explosives stored at Fauld at the time of the incident.
     
    Corky likes this.
  7. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    That is definitely some arsenal.
     
  8. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek MOD

    Wow, fantastic pictures.
     
  9. airborne medic

    airborne medic Very Senior Member

    IIRC there have been threads on this before but found this interesting photo on the internet......hope it is of use.....
     

    Attached Files:

    CL1 likes this.
  10. Mark Hone

    Mark Hone Senior Member

    Not a battlefield as such but I am planning to visit the Fauld Crater in June 2014 with a small group in our school minibus. When I last visited, nearly 20 years ago, we parked at the nearby Cock Inn in Hanbury, The pub was decorated with photos of the damage caused to the village by the Fauld blast. Unfortunately I have a horrible feeling that the pub may be no more. Does anyone know where I could park the minibus in reasonable strolling distance of the crater?
     
  11. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  12. Mark Hone

    Mark Hone Senior Member

    Can anyone confirm the actual size of the Fauld Crater? The sources I have consulted, e.g. the 'After the Battle' article from the 1970s and the Wikipedia entry on the explosion, give wildly different dimensions. According to the ATB article by John Reed, had the blast wall between the old and new sections of the underground store not held there was the real possibility of a chain reaction detonation of up to 15,000 tons of ammunition, over three times the amount that actually went up in November 1944. That would have been the largest man made non-nuclear explosion in History. What sort of damage would that have done, I wonder?
     
  13. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    link below with more information

    The RAF Fauld explosion was a military accident which occurred at 11:11am on Monday, November 27, 1944 at the RAF Fauld underground munitions storage site.

    Between 3,100 and 3,600 metric tons (3,500 and 4,000 tons) of ordnance exploded – mostly comprising high explosives but including a variety of other types of weapons and including 500 million rounds of rifle ammunition. The resulting crater was 120 meters (400') deep and 1,200 meters (0.75 miles) across and is still clearly visible just south of the village of Fauld, to the west of Hanbury Hill in Staffordshire, England. A nearby reservoir containing 450,000 cubic meters of water was obliterated in the incident, along with a number of buildings.


    http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/4824-the-raf-fauld-explosion/

    http://www.healeyhero.co.uk/rescue/individual/fauld.htm
     
  14. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    A memorial has been unveiled to mark the 70th anniversary of an explosion at an underground bomb storage depot that killed 70 people.
    On 27 November, 1944, around 4,000 tonnes of bombs stored at RAF Fauld in Staffordshire exploded.
    The force of the blast left a 400ft (120m)-deep crater in the Staffordshire countryside, which still exists.
    About 100 people attended the unveiling of the new memorial, at the entrance of British Gypsum, near the blast site.
    It is the second monument erected in honour of those killed.
    The first, installed in 1990, stands on the edge of the crater, about half a mile from the village of Hanbury.


    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-stoke-staffordshire-30218324
     
  15. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

  16. Bernard85

    Bernard85 WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    good day peter clare.very senior member.11th oct.2006.11:17pm.re:the R.A.F.fauld explosion.i have been reading this old thread.i found it very interesting .i had never heard of it before.i think they did the right thing keeping it secret during the war.thank you for posting,to all who lost there lives in that explosion.may they rest in peace.regards bernard85 :poppy: :poppy:
     
  17. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    There is one photograph on link provided by Clive on a previous post, which Shows a sign stating Unexploded Bombs.

    I would have thought that the site should have been cleared by this time.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  18. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  19. Guy Hudson

    Guy Hudson Looker-upper

    Many of the buildings at RAF Fauld were untouched by the explosion and are now in use as an industrial estate. The Guardhouse has been converted to a house. There are also traces of narrow guage railway track that ran from the camp to Tutbury Station.

    A few years ago, after a walk around the crater I was enjoying a pint in the Cock Inn at Hanbury, rebuilt after the explosion. There were two loud bangs and I nearly dropped my drink. Landlady kindly explained that her husband had seen a rabbit in the back field and had given it both barrels from the bedroom window directly above the bar !
     
  20. Guy Hudson

    Guy Hudson Looker-upper

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