Catastrophic Explosion at RAF Upwood

Bomber airfields could be very dangerous places even though safety standards were high. In what is thought to be the worst ground crew accident on a Pathfinder station, a catastrophic detonation of bombs occurred at RAF Upwood on 9 September 1944. The ORB tells the story in plain but unforgettable detail.

upwood explosion ORB

The photograph above shows the memorial service at ‘B’ Flight dispersal. The surrounding area appears to still be littered with pieces of wreckage. The four men remembered at this service were:

AC2 James Ellis, aged 23

LAC Thomas Graham, aged 25

LAC Herbert Jones, age not known

LAC James Thompson, aged 42

The others killed were:

Corporal William Gill, aged 30

Corporal James Mole, aged 29

The name of the 7th person mentioned in the ORB is not clear from CWGC records but it is possible that it was either AC2 Charles Riman, aged 19, or a WAAF, LACW Alice Oates, although it seems likely that a WAAF would have been specifically mentioned in the ORB record which only refers to ‘airmen’.

It is currently not known whether the three dangerously injured men survived.

See also the page on the Runnymede Memorial on our sister site: AFTERMATH

About one third of the way down this website page on RAF Upwood: there can be found more photographs of the memorial service.

It is not known whether this website is still being updated and we have not yet found any contact information. Any info on this would be welcome as we would like to obtain permission to use the memorial service photographs which we do not have, and also Ralph Paech’s diary.