Oral history by Cockermouth lady about her mother working at the munitions factory at the Royal Navy Armaments Depot, locally known as “The Dump” in Broughton Moor in West Cumbria. Huge shells were prepared and stored there and this lady’s mother worked there in WW2. One day her mother came home distressed but could not explain why to her daughter and had to go back to work at the munitions “Dump” the next day. The secrecy was unveiled when the time restriction of the Official Secrets Act expired and there was a memorial service to those who died that day.
Explosion at the RNAD Works Broughton Jan 18th 1944
The Royal Naval Armaments Depot (RNAD) was developed on compulsory purchased land before the start of the Second World War. It stretches across the Parish boundaries of Broughton, Broughton Moor, Camerton and Seaton. It covers an area of 1050 acres (425 hectares).
Over a 54 year period, from approximately 1938 to 1992, the site formed part of an active ammunitions storage, inspection, repair and proofing facility under the ownership of the Ministry of Defence (MOD).
On January 18th , 1944, a huge explosion at I RNAD killed eleven people working inside General Purpose Laboratory Room Number 3. A report into the tragedy stated that the most likely cause was a sensitive fuse in a naval mortar bomb. 72 lbs of high explosive in the laboratory exploded and this blast detonated 1,296 pounds of high explosive in a railway truck outside. The tremor was felt 15 miles away.
The laboratory and its six foot thick concrete walls were severely damaged. The tragedy was not fully reported in the local press at the time but because of wartime restrictions could only be reported has having happened ‘in a North Western works’.
The death toll.
Mrs. Mary Barnes Mrs. Gertrude Fee Miss Jean Lister Mr. Edward Lynch
Mr. William Morrison Mrs. Elizabeth Moses Mr Henry Rook Mrs. Patricia Scutts
Miss. Mary Smith Mr. Robert Swanston Mrs. Ann Wilson
One of the dead, Mrs. Elizabeth Moses, was the mother of Private Thomas Henry Moses who was killed on the retreat to Dunkirk.
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