Bomb Dump at Metfield Blows Up
July 15, 1944
On July 15, 1944, three days after our Munich mission, we found out it could be dangerous to be at your own home base. At 19.30 hours (7:30p.m.) the bomb dump of the 491st Bomb Group stationed at Metfield blew up. This air field was located approximately 30 miles southeast of Shipdham. This was the same group that later replaced the 492nd Bomb Group in our 14th Combat Wing after the 492nd was disbanded due to unacceptable losses. A mushroom cloud hung over the field, everyone was talking about it. My pilot. Captain Peritti, got permission the next day to fly one of the twin motor LX555 British planes kept at Group Headquarters. He asked me to go with him to view the results of the explosion from the air. I was only too happy to go and besides, he could never have found the field by himself. In a few minutes we were over Metfield. What a mess, for hundreds of yards out from the center of the blast, a large blackened area of destruction lay before our eyes. Buildings and planes were destroyed everywhere. (I was ever so surprised while going through the Air Force museum at Dayton, Ohio to see pictures of this accident). It seems that ordinance personnel were unloading "high-explosive" bombs when one accidentally detonated. This in turn set of 1200 tons of other H E bombs and incendiaries. The blast killed five men and was heard for 40 miles. Property was damaged as much as 5 miles away. Five B-24's were wrecked and six others badly damaged.
We flew around in the LX555 for almost three hours. We really got a first hand view of this disaster.