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At the end of the Second World War, the British Army had a huge surplus of ammunition and explosives that started to give them ideas. It was suggested that the excess ammunition could be utilized for seismic experiments by setting up controlled explosions to generate seismic waves having intensity comparable with those produced by small earthquakes. It was impractical to carry out the experiments within England as explosion of the necessary size on the available sites would cause damage to nearby properties. So they turned to Germany.

The British had just concluded the biggest war in human history with Germany, and like the explosives, aggression was still in surplus quantities. In July 1946, an ammunition dump near the town of Soltau, in north Germany, was blown up producing seismic waves that were observed at distances up to 50 km. But the British needed something bigger. So they started preparing for the world’s most powerful non-nuclear explosion, which eventually came to be known as the “British Bang”. The target: a small archipelago off the German coastline called Heligoland.

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