Volunteers from Eton at the Didcot depot

Saturday, 2 September 2017


In the draft of my book, 'Ordnance', I write that 1916 saw a transformation in the way ammunition was supplied and stored.

In the March before the Somme offensive a new depot was partially destroyed by damaged ammunition exploding and causing other ammunition stored nearby also to explode. In late July 1916, once some 100,000 tons had been supplied for the opening days of the offensive, another ammunition depot received a direct hit from a single bomb. Again, a chain reaction was set in motion and the whole depot was destroyed leaving craters big enough to 'dock a battleship'. One shell became lodged among ammunition boxes, but failed to explode.

Lessons were learnt and a whole new approach was adopted, with safety and risk management at its heart, and which followed through to November 1918.
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