Here's a document referring to the 1956 nuclear accident that occurred at the US Airbase at Lakenheath, UK.
If that MK6 had burst...goodbye eastern England. At that time, a nuclear weapon burst at a US Airbase could have initiated a nuclear response. It's
likely that no-one would have waited to investigate whether it was an own goal.
After a long campaign by Guardian journalist Rob Evans, the UK Ministry of Defence released a list of UK Broken Arrows.
MoD catalogues its nuclear blunders
Ombudsman forces disclosure of list of mishaps from 1960 to 1991 in which weapons were dropped or their carriers had road accidents
Monday October 13, 2003
British nuclear weapons have been repeatedly dropped, struck by other weapons, and on one occasion carried on a truck that slid down a hill and
toppled over, the Ministry of Defence has admitted after decades of secrecy.
The department has been forced to publish a list of 20 accidents and mishaps with nuclear weapons between 1960 and 1991, following a critical verdict
from the parliamentary ombudsman.
No incidents have been reported since then. The list shows that trucks carrying nuclear weapons on British roads overturned on two occasions, and cars
crashed into two convoys.
Nuclear weapons were dropped or fell on four occasions, and other munitions struck the atomic weapons four times. Four of the incidents happened
abroad, in Germany, Malta and near Hong Kong.
Sir Kevin Tebbit, the MoD's permanent secretary, has had to disclose the list following a six-year "open government" campaign by the Guardian. The
MoD initially blocked the request submitted in 1997, prompting the newspaper to lodge a complaint with the ombudsman, Ann Abraham.
Finding the MoD guilty of maladministration, the ombudsman dismissed its objections and ruled that disclosing the information would not endanger the
security of the nation. She also criticised the ministry for the "inordinate delay" in releasing the list.
One accident hushed up by the MoD was in 1960 in Lincolnshire. According to the MoD, "an RAF nuclear weapon load carrier, forming part of a convoy,
experienced a brake failure on an incline and overturned". The MoD gives no other details, but insists "there was no damage to any nuclear weapon".
Three years later, on the border of Lincolnshire and South Yorkshire, there was another "brake failure on a nuclear weapon load carrier". The MoD
does not give further details, but again says no weapons were damaged. Another brake failure happened in June 1985 near Glasgow.
Since Britain started making nuclear weapons in the early 1950s, convoys have regularly transported missiles hundreds of miles on motorways and other
roads from bases to the atomic weapons factories at Aldermaston and Burghfield in Berkshire.
These convoys continue today, as the warheads have a very short shelf-life and constantly have to be refurbished and rebuilt to keep them safe.
There have been at least two accidents with US nuclear weapons on British soil, both at Lakenheath in Suffolk. In 1956, a bomber careered out of
control and ploughed into a bomb dump housing three nuclear weapons, tearing it apart. The bomber exploded and threw burning fuel over all three
nuclear weapons. One official US cable reported that it was a "miracle" that one bomb with "exposed detonators" did not explode.
In 1961, a warplane loaded with a nuclear bomb caught fire, leaving the weapon "scorched and blistered".
For decades, the MoD refused to disclose any information on nuclear accidents, as it did not want to confirm or deny presence of weapons at any
particular time or place. But the ombudsman decided that national security could not be compromised, as the weapons in the accidents had been taken
out of service.
The MoD's list is based on incomplete records. From military sources, the Guardian has learnt of three other mishaps. In 1988, a WE177 nuclear bomb
was dented after it was dropped at RAF Marham, Norfolk. Another WE177 fell off a workstand in 1976 at RAF Honington, Suffolk, while being loaded on to
a plane. In 1967, a Vulcan bomber carrying a nuclear weapon was struck by lightning at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire.
Read the UK Broken Arrow list here