Between 3,500 and 4,000 tonnes of ordnance exploded—mostly comprising high explosive (HE)-filled bombs, but including a variety of other types of weapons and including 500 million rounds of rifle ammunition. The explosion crater with a depth of 100 feet (30 m) and 250 yards (230 m) across is still clearly visible just south of the village of Fauld, to the east of Hanbury in Staffordshire, England. It is now known as the Hanbury Crater. A nearby reservoir containing 450,000 cubic metres of water was obliterated in the incident, along with a number of buildings including a complete farm. Flooding caused by destruction of the reservoir added to the damage directly caused by the explosion.
RAF Fauld bombs stacked underground
The exact death toll is uncertain; it is believed that about 70 people died in the explosion.
Two huge explosions were witnessed at No. 21 Maintenance Unit RAF Bomb Storage dump on 27 November 1944 at 11:15 hours. Eyewitnesses reported seeing two distinct columns of black smoke in the form of a mushroom cloud ascending several thousand feet, and saw a blaze at the foot of the column. According to the Commanding Officer of M.U. 21 (Group Captain Storrar) an open dump of incendiary bombs caught fire and it was allowed to burn itself out without damage or casualties. Property was damaged within a radius of ¾ mile of the crater.
Debris and damage occurred to all property within a circle extending for 1,420 yards (1,300 m).
While much of the storage facility was annihilated by the explosion, the site itself continued to be used by the RAF for munitions storage until 1966, when No. 21 Maintenance Unit (21 MU) was disbanded. Following
By 1979 the site was fenced off and since then nature has taken over, with the area covered with over 150 species of trees and wildlife. The area is restricted as a significant amount of explosives are still buried deep in the site; the
No. 21 MU was the subject of a number of paintings under the collective title "the bomb store" by artist David Bomberg. He was briefly employed as a war artist by the War Ministry in 1943.