View Full Version : FORWARD FILLING DEPOTS - Manning

20-03-2011, 10:26
As an ex-RAF Apprentice, I stay in touch with many former entry members.

A former 40th Entry member who graduated as a Fitter 2A has reported that one of his many WW2 postings was to a Maintenance Sub Unit (unspecified but clearly a CW Forward Filling Depot) staffed by a Sergeant ACH (Aircraft Hand), and a Corporal MT (motor Transport) Driver, two SAC (Senior Aircraftsmen) General Fitters and seventeen ACH (Aircraft Hands).

He taught himself typing, filing and admin to take care of the unit management and his first job of the day was to start up the laundry since every man had to have a complete change of clothes daily.

Most of the day was spent maintaining 1500 tons of mustard gas in underground tanks and the associated pipework, valves and charging heads. He describes the site as being around 200 yards square.

After a year there, they were instructed to dismantle the operational equipment and boil it (not in the laundry!) following which he says the incidence of local cattle dying from CW poisoning decreased.

As an anecdote it adds to the picture but the surprise (to me) is that there were no Armourers on the staff. But then, we never were expendable:)

20-03-2011, 11:55
It doesnt suprise me Peter. What was there at the depot that was an actual explosive????

21-03-2011, 08:40
Larger bombs such as the 250 and 500 pound aircraft bombs contained an 'exploder' or 'burster' charge to disrupt the case and spread the filling. This was used with a fuze or pistol/detonator combination which would have been installed at the offensive airfield so it is likely that the empty bomb cases did not contain an exploder and that this was fitted as part of the fuzing process.

But, there is record of exploders being fitted to bombs at Rhydwmwyn (Valley Works)

21-03-2011, 12:07
I believe, but have not checked, that the munitions sent to the Danger Area for charging with explosives were mainly Army shells and some naval smoke floats. The RAF had a different inspection department located in the K buildings called AID and their bombs were not armed with explosives on site but shipped direct to MUs and were presumably armed there or at the airfields. The exception to this were the 65lb bombs which did not contain explosives.
As the FFDs filled their own RAF/USAAF munitions, I suspect they would have armed them on the airfield as I cannot detect any magazines at the FFDs.

21-03-2011, 12:33
I guess the requirements changed too. In 1940 gas would be used against invading troops and air burst weapons would be needed. In 1944 gas would be used as a retaliatory weapon against German cities, the 65lb bomb would be the principal weapon but larger ones could be used and would split open on impact. No explosives necessary.

22-03-2011, 05:13
Just to clarify for other viewers, Colin is referring (Post 4 above) to Rhydymwyn (Valley Works). I agree that 25 pounder shell had bursters installed there but somewhere in my mind is a statement concerning 250 pound light case bombs. Putting that aside, I am sure that FFDs only filled the various capacity bombs with no explosive items and shipped these to airfields where they were fuzed as required. Of course, this statement applies only to the very few that were filled and shipped for trials since none were actually used in anger..............