Article: RAF depot explosion

SValentineJRM1251404v10102.jpg

Title

Article: RAF depot explosion

Description

Death toll expected to exceed 160 including servicemen, civilians and Italians. Mention damage to local village and countryside. Two explosions reported. Blast wrecked a reservoir and two farms.

Temporal Coverage

Language

Type

Format

One newspaper cutting

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

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This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.

Identifier

SValentineJRM1251404v10102

Transcription

BURTON-ON-TRENT,
Tuesday.

THE death-roll [sic] in the R.A.F. depot explosion near here yesterday is expected to exceed 160.

Tonight more than 100 men were estimated to be buried in the ammunition store, from which 23 bodies have been recovered. Thirty-one bodies remain under the wreckage of a plaster works nearby.

Rescue parties worked through last night and today, often in extreme difficulties. Many deaths were caused by gas and some of the rescuers could work only for two-minute spells, although equipped with respirators.

The casualties include Service men, civilians and Italian collaborators.

A village near the scene of the main explosion, and the open country above the depot, today looked as if it had been pattern-bombed.

Great craters are everywhere, and the face of the countryside over an area of several square miles has been completely changed.

Buried under mud

There were two explosions in different parts of the depot. The first was in a gallery which, with the administration buildings above it, was wrecked. The other was at a bomb dump 70ft. underground.

Between 50 and 60 men were at work at the site of the first explosion, but some escaped by an air shaft.

Mr. Charles Gibbs was one of those unhurt. Man after man he carried to safety on his back, and he gave in only when he collapsed through being gassed; he was himself carried home by R.A.F. men.

Blast wrecked a reservoir and an avalanche of mud swept through and over the administration offices. Men are believed to be buried under the mud.

At the bomb dump there were at least 75 men at work.

Farm disappears

Two farms near the dump were among the wrecked buildings. One has practically disappeared into a crater 100 yards deep and 300 yards wide. There is no trace of a farmer and his wife and three farm hands.

At intervals throughout today there have been minor explosions, attributed to the bursting of incendiary bombs.

A large number of girls and women employed in a filling shed had extraordinary escapes. The building was wrecked and many of the women were blown through the roof. Yet except for minor injuries and scratches none of them was hurt.

A woman farmer living over two miles from the scene of the disaster was injured by flying debris. Her garden is filled with the fragments of shattered houses and there is a huge crater, believed to have been caused by blast.

Very few injured

At another farm a carter and his waggon and horses disappeared without trace.

A doctor with the rescue parties said: “There were practically no injured, so we had nothing to do.”

It is understood that it was [missing words]

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Citation

“Article: RAF depot explosion,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 3, 2022, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/22086.

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