Contributor: Hugh Martyr
ww2dbasePart I: Jun 1944
ww2dbaseEarly in the morning of Monday 12 Jun 1944 the first V-1 flying bombs were launched from sites on the German-occupied European coast. Ten in number on that first day, six of which took off as planned and roared off towards the English coast. The other four crashed to earth shortly after leaving their launch ramps, three of these exploded causing damage to the launch sites, the other remained on the ramp, failing to take off. This was not a particularly auspicious start for the campaign in which the Germans were putting in a huge amount of planning, time and money. Oberst Max Wachel, the commander of the Flakregiment 155(W) since Aug 1943, had addressed his men that evening prior to the launches:
ww2dbaseIn fact, the Germans had brought forward the launch date to counter the bad news that the Allies now had a firm bridgehead in Normandy after the landings on the French coast just days before. Only ten of the 55 firing ramps were complete and ready to launch the bombs and the logistical plans of supplying the ramps with the bombs and fuel was far from being well tested.
ww2dbaseGermany had been developing pilotless flying bombs at Peenemünde Army Research Centre on the Baltic coast since 1939. During initial development it was known by the codename "Cherry Stone". There had been doubts about the feasibility of the project due to the feeling at the time that guidance technology was not far enough advanced and would always be a problem. However, Robert Lusser, the chief designer and technical director at Heinkel was brought in to help Heinrich Koppenberg and Fritz Gosslau of the Argus Motoren Company and these three together with the Fieseler Company developed the flying bomb powered by a pulse jet engine.
ww2dbaseWith a fuselage constructed mainly of welded sheet steel and wings built of plywood, later to be made of thin sheet metal, the prototype bomb was designed to carry an 850-kilo warhead with a range of around 160 miles. The power unit was a simple, Argus-built pulsejet engine which pulsed 50 times per second, giving the V-1 a speed of 340/380 miles per hour. The "pulsing" gave the jet motor its characteristic noise. Witnesses likened it to a badly tuned motorbike struggling up hill; it quickly became known as the doodlebug or buzz bomb. The bomb was designed to be launched from both the land and the air; the land launched bombs were catapulted by a powerful steam powered trolley which generated a velocity of 360 miles per hour as it left the ramp. The air launched bombs were to be carried by modified Heinkel III H22 aircraft. Mobile launching systems would also be brought into use as the Allied advance approached the ramp sites.
ww2dbaseThe small and compact launch sites were built along the French, Belgian and Dutch coasts usually in woodland and thus were difficult for the Allies to locate and when located they were very difficult to put out of action by bombing. If damaged, they were so designed to be easily re-built over a short period of time. Often the Germans located them in areas populated by villages and towns, thus adding to the difficulty of any aerial attack.
ww2dbaseAnd now in early Jun 1944, the six rockets were travelling at almost 400 miles per hour towards the English coast; two would crash into the sea short of their target. The first of the remainder plunged into a potato field and blew up outside Swanscombe village in Kent. Another impacted at Mizbrooks Farm in Cuckfield, Sussex. It blew off the gate of the farmer's pigsty and gave his frightened animals some hours of freedom. The third bomb exploded near the back garden of a house outside Borough Green in Kent, destroying greenhouses and causing some structural damage to the house.
ww2dbaseThe fourth bomb made it to the capital, diving down on Bethnal Green at 0425 hours and hitting the railway bridge that carried the Great Eastern Railway over Grove Road. The bridge collapsed and some houses were badly damaged by the blast. Six people were killed including a nineteen-year-old mother and her eight-month old baby, nine people were seriously injured.
ww2dbaseThe arrival of the V-1 flying bombs did not come as a major surprise to the British government, reports from resistance groups and photographic reconnaissance had alerted the Allies sometime before. Hard evidence had come when Polish agents recovered pieces from test sites and had got them back to the UK via Sweden. By Apr 1944 it was obvious that pilotless bombs of some sort would soon become operational and be launched against the south-eastern area and London. However, the bombs arrival that morning dominated the War Cabinet meeting that morning, the Air Ministry had promised that a month's warning could be given and rather hasty decisions were made as to what to tell the public. The usual censorship of the press was followed: "Refer only to southern England... do not report sounding of air raid sirens... do not publish reports or photographs of damage... do not publish more than three obituary notices in any one postal district". The public in the southern Counties and London would soon know and recognize that something else was happening. Through Germany's radio aimed at England the announcement was made that "a good hearted and morally inspired Führer has ordered the Luftwaffe on this course of attack so that the air gangsters should be brought to account for their terror crimes." This with a sketch of the bomb was published in the Daily Mail of 17 Jun 1944. Then on 18 Jun the Guard's Chapel opposite St. James's Park, packed with high ranking servicemen and their families received a direct hit. One hundred and twenty-one dead were carried out. All news or this was suppressed although the rumours of a disaster spread across the capital.
ww2dbaseAt the next meeting of the War Cabinet Winston Churchill said that "the matter had to be put before the populace. The brooding menace of the unknown had become a reality and their tribulations were part of the battle in France and they would be glad to share in the soldiers' dangers."
ww2dbaseAttacks had been carried out by the Allies on various targets in an effort to hamper the development of the bombs and the launch sites, and indeed, the Allies were able to land on the Normandy beaches before the campaign started, although numerous night sorties had been carried out by the Luftwaffe with bombers carrying air launched guided bombs. These aircraft however proved easy pickings for the RAF Mosquito night fighters due to radar and jamming techniques and although some ships had been hit had caused no major difficulties to the Allied bridgehead.
ww2dbaseDefence against the V-1 flying bombs, which would be given the name of "Divers" by the RAF, fell upon the newly established Air Defence of Great Britain (ADGB) and Anti-Aircraft Command. After the first V-1 had landed, it was thought in all probability that they were a range-finding test and that there would be period of time before the bombs came in any quantity whilst the Germans evaluated the reliability of the launches. This proved false when during the night of the 14/15 Jun 1944 the V-1 bombs started coming over in droves. The ADGB quickly reorganised itself to meet the threat.
ww2dbaseIt very quickly became apparent that the bombs could outpace most of the fighters the Allies had available, and that only the Squadrons flying the Tempest V and the Mustang III fighters would be able to shoot down the V-1 flying bombs. The extra speed needed would have to be achieved by the fighter diving steeply from altitude behind the target. The high-performance Spitfire XII and XIV fighters would soon be operational and join the battle, as the pilots learned the art of getting to the speed needed to get within range of the speeding bomb.
ww2dbaseThe New Zealanders of No. 485 Squadron and No. 3 Squadron were the only Tempest V Squadrons operational at the time. No. 56 Squadron was almost ready. The three units were formed into 150 Wing and put under the command of Wing Commander Roland Beamont DSO DFC.
ww2dbaseBeamont had been aware of the coming attacks by some sort of German secret weapon but had been unable to obtain any form of technical information that would have helped to create tactics to engage the weapon. It was not until the 16 Jun 1944 that the campaign against the flying bomb commenced. The Tempest fighters were put on standing patrols along the south-eastern coast as the doodlebugs started to arrive in waves.
ww2dbaseThat first day of operations, the 150 Wing destroyed 10 of the bombs and would end the week having accounted for approximately 100. Beamont wrote:
ww2dbaseThe AOC ADGB, Air Marshal Sir Roderick Hill, was well aware of the job that he was giving to the pilots. Being a seasoned fighter pilot himself, throughout the campaign he flew over 60 anti-Diver patrols in his Tempest V fighter, and was often flying from one squadron to another, assessing the situation and talking to the pilots. He had received information from intelligence, that Hitler had seen German pilots trying to catch the flying bombs in a captured Spitfire fighter which they had failed to do and he had become convinced that Britain would have no defence against the bombs. "Well," said Sir Roderick, "We knew the Tempest could get to the speed as well as the Spitfire XIV, with the Mustang IIIs arriving we knew we had a fractional advantage, but only just."
ww2dbaseThe ADGB reorganised the fighter Squadrons across all the southern counties but using the same ground control system that had proved so effective during the Battle of Britain, to vector the aircraft to the incoming bombs. However, due to the speed of the V-1 flying bombs, they took very little time to cross the English Channel, this meant that the aircraft needed to be airborne and on patrol to be vectored onto the path of the bombs. As the pilots gained experience, however, they would often have visual contact before radar or the Observation Posts along the coasts picked up the incoming Divers, the night-fighter had little problem picking up the V-1 flying bombs' long bright flame in the dark but it still proved a difficult and dangerous task to dive to a low altitude at high speed in the dark.
ww2dbaseAnother unit operating with a mixture of aircraft including Tempest V, Typhoon and Mosquito fighters, was the Fighter Interception Unit (FIU) based at Wittering. This unit was involved in the testing of aircraft and had very experienced pilots amongst its staff. It was also training pilots to fly the Tempest and Mustang III fighters. Under command of Squadron Leader Tubby Daniel DFC, the unit moved to Newchurch in Kent with the intention of using the incoming bombs as a training aid both for the pilots and the new aircraft.
ww2dbaseBritain was also developing her own secret weapon. Squadron Leader Les Watts DFC, of No. 616 Squadron was told that his unit was to move to RAF Culmhead in Somerset where it was to be re-equipped with the Meteor jet fighter. The squadron's move was kept confidential and would remain so until the fighter was ready to come into operational status and join the other squadrons in the attacks.
ww2dbaseThe anti-aircraft defences along the coast were also reinforced during the campaign (3.7-inch guns) which would later lead to zones being made for the fighters to prevent friendly fire incidents. In the initial stages of the defence the anti-aircraft gunners, had to relearn their craft. It may seem that shooting down a target that makes no effort to avoid being shot at would be simple for the anti-aircraft gunners. However, these bombs were at an altitude which was too low for heavy guns and at a speed and height too high for light guns.
ww2dbaseThe commanding officer of No. 96 Squadron, Wing Commander Edward Crew DFC who took his aircraft up attack V-1 flying bombs early in the battle said: "The bombs came in a steady stream continuing till morning. The Ack Ack was terrific and our fighters couldn't get near them, I was hit by it whilst trying to get to one."
ww2dbaseThe pilots too had to learn a new tactics one of which was to avoid the hot gasses coming out to the bomb's rocket engine and to fire at short bursts and make aiming and positional changes at high speed. They would be aware of the explosive capability of the doodlebug once they blew one up in the air.
ww2dbaseOn the opening of Operation Crossbow as the defence against V-1 bombs and other secret weapons was codenamed, the RAF had the following squadrons of fighters at different airfields across the south-eastern counties. As the number of bombs being launched increased, more Squadrons would join in the defence as they became operational, some having to move down south to new bases.
ww2dbaseIn 1940 No. 3 Squadron had been deployed to France in support of the British Expeditionary Force following the German attack on the West, being forced to withdraw after 10 days and having claimed 60 German aircraft for the loss of 21 of its own. In Feb 1943 it re-equipped with the Hawker Typhoon for fighter-bomber and anti-shipping strikes. Operating from RAF Newchurch in Kent it was re-equipped again in Mar 1944 with the new Hawker Tempest fighter and operated over the Normandy beach-head and against German V-1 flying bombs. By the end of the battle it would have shot down 288 flying bombs.
ww2dbaseNo. 486 (RNZAF) Squadron were also based at RAF Newchurch. The squadron was formed on 7 Mar 1942, and posted initially at RAF Kirton in Lindsey, Lincolnshire, as part of RAF Fighter Command equipped with Hawker Hurricane II fighters. The unit, re-equipped with Hawker Tempest fighters in Feb 1944 and in Apr 1944, was the first RAF Squadron to receive Tempest fighters. The unit was changed back to defence duties after D-Day and would claim 223.5 V-1 flying bombs, the second highest number of any unit involved. At the end of Apr 1944, 486 squadron became part of No. 150 Wing RAF, along with No. 3 Squadron and No. 56 Squadron (the latter still equipped with Spitfire VB fighters and, later, Hawker Typhoon fighters), under the command of Wing Commander Roland Beamont. Beamont would write about this Squadron: "...an exuberant bunch of New Zealanders with a brilliant record on Typhoons and a rather casual approach (as I was soon to find out) to King's Regulations and Air Council instructions - and to 'Pommy Bastard' wing leaders!"
ww2dbaseThere had been problems with the Typhoons with mid-air structural failures, which after redesign by Hawker was supposedly fixed, yet there was the doubt in the pilots' minds at the time that the tail was still a problem and there were cases of the structural failure happening. This resulted in the aircraft not being so popular as the other fighters available that could do the job.
ww2dbaseNo. 96 Squadron had begun its Second World War existence as No. 422 Flight, a night fighter unit equipped with the Hurricane fighter. The flight was re-designated as No. 96 Squadron in Dec 1940 and continued to operate as a night fighter unit based at RAF Ford in West Sussex equipped with Mosquito XIII aircraft to provide night fighter defence over the Normandy invasion fleet and beaches and provide anti-Diver patrols, the first of which started on 14 Jun 1944. The Squadron Diary contained the following entry: "Well, well, whatever will happen next! At 03.42 hrs the air raid message was sounded, the All Clear going at 04.00 hrs. At 03.15hrs Red was again sounded and this time the news came from Biggin that the Hun was sending over pilotless aircraft."
ww2dbaseNo. 219 Squadron, at RAF Bradwell Bay near Malden Essex, was fully operational by Feb 1940, and was stationed at RAF Redhill, near London, flying the Bristol Beaufighter aircraft. In Dec 1940 it moved to RAF Tangmere in Sussex, continuing in its operational role. It then moved back to northern England in mid-1942, then in May 1943, the squadron was transferred to North Africa. In Sep 1943 it operated from Sicily, Italy, moving back to the UK in Jan 1944 to join the Second Tactical Air Force in preparation for the invasion of Normandy when it was re-equipped with Mosquito Mk. XVII and Mk. 30 night fighters. The Mosquito Mk. 30 was the final wartime variant of the nightfighter aircraft and was a high-altitude version, powered by two 1,710-horsepower Rolls-Royce Merlin 76 engines. The Mk. 30 had a maximum speed of 424 miles per hour at 26,500 feet. It also carried early electronic countermeasures equipment. This equipment proved valuable in detecting and destroying the Heinkel He 111 bombers carrying the flying bombs.
ww2dbaseNo. 418 (RCAF) Squadron was based at RAF Holmsley South near Christchurch, Hampshire. The "City of Edmonton" Squadron would become Canada's highest-scoring squadron in World War II, in terms of both air-to-air and air-to-ground kills, and in terms of both day and night operations. Equipped with Mosquito FBVI aircraft the squadron would also run "intruder" sorties over Europe as well as the anti-Diver patrols.
ww2dbaseNo. 605 Squadron in Jun 1944 was based at RAF Manston, another north Kent airfield. The squadron had been one of the most successful squadrons during the Battle of Britain and was now equipped with Mosquito Mk. VI aircraft.
ww2dbaseNo. 91 Squadron had its home at Deanland ALG (Advanced Landing Ground) in East Sussex. Originally the unit flew reconnaissance Spitfire aircraft, and later providing bomber escorts. The Squadron was the first to take off from Britain on D-Day, giving air cover over the Normandy beaches. Equipped later with the faster Spitfire XIV fighters they were deployed to combat the V-1 flying-bomb attacks.
ww2dbaseThe New Zealand fighter Ace Wing Commander Johnny Checketts DSO DFC took command of a new Wing based at Biggin Hill. The unit No. 142 Wing, was supplied with Spitfire Vb fighters. There is a story that, to counter the threat of low flying V-1 bombs he set up twin machine guns outside the Intelligence Officer's hut. So that, if not flying, he could take a shot at them. When one did eventually appear flying across the airfield Checketts was away; the officer on duty in the hut duly shot it down to explode outside the perimeter, much to Checkett's chagrin.
ww2dbaseNo. 68 Squadron was moved to RAF Castle Camps on the Cambridgeshire/Suffolk border. This squadron contained a number of Czech aircrew and were flying Mosquito XVII aircraft. One of the Czechs was flying ace Miloslav Mansfeld, who as a Beaufighter pilot shot down numerous Luftwaffe bombers and as a Mosquito pilot shot down two V-1 flying bombs. The poet James Farrar whose father had served in the Royal Flying Corps was a Pilot Officer in the squadron and was killed on the night of 25/26 Jul 1944 when, on patrol over the Thames Estuary (as navigator of a Mosquito piloted by Fred Kemp) the aircraft disappeared after radioing that they were attacking a V-1 either as a result of collision with or being caught in the detonation of the target.
ww2dbaseThese units were in the front line and in a state of readiness as the first waves of bombs started to cross the English Channel with a better performance than that of the initial first six. As the battle against the V-1 bombs grew and the damage done by them increased, more squadrons would be made operational and brought in to combat the threat. No. 1 Squadron flying Spitfire LFIXb fighters started anti-Diver patrols. The squadron would also fly missions over the Falaise Gap in France, strafing targets of opportunity. Later in the year it reverted to bomber escort duties and moved to a new base at Haldegham.
ww2dbaseOn the night of 15/16 Jun 1944, reports started to come in at midnight after an explosion in Peckham (SE16). This was followed by news of bombs in Chatham, Bermondsey (SE16) and Beckenham, by the morning there had been over 40 V-1 explosions across south London and in north Kent with over 75 people killed and many more injured. By noon on Friday 16 Jun 1944, 244 V-1 flying bombs had been fired from the German launch sites; 73 got past the defences and hit London while a further 50 had been aimed at Southampton but with little success.
ww2dbaseNo. 3 Squadron started patrols at 0715 hours on the 16 Jun 1944 and Flight Sergeant M. Rose accounted for the first V-1 near Maidstone; in all, the squadron scored nine Divers destroyed by the end of the day. Flight Sergeant Rose arrived back at Newchurch where the wing of his aircraft needed replacing due to his getting too near to an American anti-aircraft post. A problem would soon arise with the fighters getting into the area covered by the coastal anti-aircraft batteries, this would result in clear zones being given where no fighters were to fly. Flight Lieutenant Remy van Lierde brought down a Diver with the help of the Australian pilot Flight Sergeant D. McKerras. This was the first of many that the Belgian of No. 3 Squadron would destroy.
ww2dbaseFlight Lieutenant Bruce Moffat opened the scoring for No. 91 Squadron bringing down a Diver over Kenley, it exploded in an open field. At midday the New Zealand pair, Warrant Officer Brian O'Connor and Pilot Officer Kevin McCarthy intercepted two Divers crossing the coast between Rye and Dungeness, the first exploded in the air whilst the other hit the ground outside Rye. Pilot Officer Jack Stafford was not so lucky in his attack, his cannon jammed as he swept down to the bomb. He also complained about the indiscriminate anti-aircraft fire hampering the fighter pilots and added that there was only two and a half minutes of time for them to catch up with a bomb after it passed the anti-aircraft guns and entered the balloon barrage. Wing Commander Johnny Checketts opened the score sheet for the 142 Wing, flying a Spitfire Vb, he picked up a Diver as it approached Croydon. After a short burst which he saw striking the bomb, it fell to earth near Caterham.
ww2dbaseThe day after these first encounters with the V-1 flying bombs another two squadrons became operational against the flying bomb. Based at RAF Hartford Bridge, No. 322 Squadron had been formed from the Dutch personnel of No. 167 Squadron RAF in Jun 1943 at RAF Woodvale. The other squadron joining the fight was one of the oldest in the RAF. No. 56 Squadron had fought in both the Battle of France and Battle of Britain. In 1944 they converted to Spitfire Mk IX and became part of 150 Wing.
ww2dbaseProblems continued for the Germans. They had, apart from the occasional failure, solved the problem of unsuccessful launches, although a launch site at Avesnes, in the Pas de Calais area had been destroyed when a bomb took off vertically and then crashed down and exploded. The problem now was that the guidance systems within the flying bomb was malfunctioning too often. Some bombs had veered off line and hit French villages whilst others were turning completely around and flying off towards Germany itself. However, the amount of successful launches was high and the damage and death toll in southern England rose over the following weeks.
ww2dbaseThe RAF pilots had now started to understand the tactics of how to attack and destroy the bombs and the individual units' score sheets got longer. Squadron Leader Russ Bannock of No. 418 Squadron (RCAF) recalled:
ww2dbaseBannock who ended the war as a Wing Commander with 16.5 V-1 kills, had an Austrian father who had settled in Canada. He had changed his name from Bahnuk to Bannock; he had relations in Germany, two of which, his cousins, flew in the Luftwaffe.
ww2dbaseFlying their Tempest V fighters, No. 3 Squadron kept up their scores. Each day brought more results, nine were shot down on 17 Jun 1944 whilst this was bettered the next day with a tally of 22. The first on this clear summer's day was brought down by Flight Lieutenant Spike Umbers just after 0430 hours.
ww2dbaseFlight Lieutenant Umbers would fetch another Diver down that evening, seeing it explode on the ground. Another member of No. 3 Squadron was Flight Lieutenant Remy van Lierde from Overboelare in Belgium. He had joined the Belgian Air Force in 1935 and became a pupil pilot with the 73 Escadrille. By 1940 he was a Sergeant flying Fairy Fox III aircraft. He was shot down by flak on 16 May 1940, was wounded and captured. In Sep 1940, after recovering from his injuries, he left Belgium, crossed occupied France, and entered neutral Spain. He was arrested for illegally crossing the border, and was confined in various Spanish prisons, including the notorious concentration camp at Miranda de Ebro. Nevertheless, he eventually escaped, and reached England on 22 Jul 1941. He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve on 5 Sep 1941. He attended 57 OTU. He was then posted to No. 609 Squadron on 9 Jan 1942. He was awarded a DFC on 25 Jun 1943 and posted to Manston in Feb 1944 as a Gunnery Leader. On 20 Apr 1944 he joined No. 3 Squadron flying Tempest aircraft. He would eventually earn a bar to his DFC.
ww2dbaseOn his third day of patrols with the squadron van Lierde shot down his third and fourth V-1 bombs, sharing the first with Flight Sergeant Bert Bailey. Whilst avoiding the anti-aircraft fire they saw the bomb explode on the ground outside Dungeness.
ww2dbaseAlso having a good day were the New Zealanders of No. 486 Squadron, sending a dozen V-1 bombs to ground. Pilot Officer Ray Danzey learnt the hard way that it was not a good idea to get too close. His target blew up in front of him almost flipping his aircraft over. He managed to keep control of his Tempest with difficulty and upon landing saw that the scorched wings were riddled with holes.
ww2dbaseTwo pilots of No. 56 Squadron almost scored the first kills for the unit when, on a weather reconnaissance flight, they sighted a V-1 flying bomb and whilst gaining height in order to attack, two Spitfire fighters from No. 3 Squadron flew swiftly past and brought it down. This demonstration of the speed needed in this type of combat did not go unheeded.
ww2dbaseBy 19 Jun 526 people had died as a result of the bombs and now up to 60 of the bombs were getting through to the London area daily. In this same period the fighters had managed to bring down 63 of the missiles and a further 25 had been destroyed by the night fighters. Although not part of the 150 Wing, fighter pilots of the USSAF had brought down 13. The anti-aircraft batteries, still being re-enforced had brought down 112 and were improving their aiming technique all the while as the targets were plentiful.
ww2dbaseGerman Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels was busy in Germany proclaiming that the campaign had frightened and panicked the population of Southern England. Adding that in London had come to a standstill as the rain of secret weapons had continued without interruption. He added that Buckingham Palace had been badly damaged but the Royal Family had been evacuated to their secluded castle in Scotland.
ww2dbaseMeanwhile No. 3 Squadron was leading the way in bringing the bombs down scoring over 50 kills during the week ending 27 Jun 1944, Remy van Lierde taking six of them. Adding to the list of nationalities involved in the war against the bombs, No. 332 (Norwegian) Squadron claimed their first kill when they were vectored onto a Diver over mid Channel. Sergeant Elvind Veirsted, flying his Spitfire IX aircraft, caused it to explode, damaging his aircraft so badly that he was forced to bale out. The Norwegian was soon fished out of the Channel by Air/Sea Rescue and returned to Bognor Regis ALG. Not all pilots found the task an easy one, Warrant Officer Jim Shedden of No. 486 RNZAF Squadron recalled:
ww2dbaseOn return from a cancelled operation to escort Lancaster bombers on a raid over France, Spitfire X fighters of No. 332 (Norwegian)Squadron saw a Diver at 4,500 feet over Redhill. Two fighters flown by Second Lieutenant Hans Isachsen and Second Lieutenant Ola Aanjesen broke away and fired at it. The Diver blew up in the air and Isachen's Spitfire was badly damaged but he landed safely at their base at Newchurch. Other pilots were still learning the hard way that the bombs carried a big punch, Flight Officer Sid Seid, an American flying in No. 418 Squadron got too near his target in his Mosquito FBVI and had all the paint burnt off the nose and leading edges after his target blew up. He later commented on the attack:
ww2dbaseOn 19 Jun 1944, 41 Squadron was pulled off air support for the bridgehead in France to be deployed solely in anti-Diver patrols in their Spitfire XII fighters. They were based at West Malling and with had pilots who had fought in the Battle of Britain. Three days after the new deployment the squadron brought down three bombs. Also arriving to join the defence (22 Jun 1944) was 165 Squadron, based at Detling near Maidstone. The Malta veteran, Flight Lieutenant Tony Holland helped the rest of the pilots in shooting down six Divers on the unit's first patrol. In addition, Douglas Bader's old Battle of Britain experienced 610 Squadron was brought in to help the fight. Flying their Spitfire XIV fighters from West Malling.
ww2dbaseSome Military sites experienced near misses; at High Halden ALG near Ashford, the home of the 358th Fighter Group (FG) the American's had a scare, Lieutenant Ralph F. Palaia, the Assistant Intelligence Officer there:
ww2dbaseSergeant George Long, an armourer added: "We had this buzz bomb land fairly close to the Officer's barracks. You should have seen the Officers get out of the building! It looked like a bunch of ducks heading for a June bug convention."
ww2dbaseThe pilots were now seldom short of targets and the score sheets mounted as they learnt that, if not on patrol over the Channel, then they should circle behind the anti-aircraft barrage and pick off the V-1 bombs that passed through. In the afternoon of 23 Jun 1944, the New Zealanders of No. 486 Squadron together with No. 3 and No. 91 Squadrons brought down over 30, most falling to earth and exploding in the Kent or Sussex countryside. So far, no serious loss of life had occurred when a Diver was shot down to explode on the ground, damage to property was inevitable and the all the pilots were concerned that their actions would not result in civilian deaths. Mr. Bob Tollett was a schoolboy in Tunbridge Wells and on Saturday afternoon was watching a Spitfire chase a Doodlebug:
ww2dbaseThen, on the morning of 24 Jun 1944, good luck changed to bad. At 0618 hours, a Diver shot down by a fighter hit the Newlands Military Base at Charing, killing 47 men and seriously wounding 22. Moments later another sent to earth by a Spitfire fighter, blew up in Smarden, Kent blowing a bungalow apart and killing six.
ww2dbaseSunday 25 Jun 1944 turned out to be a busy day for No. 3 Squadron, Remy van Lierde was again up and claimed two of the squadron's nine kills. Over Lydd, with Flight Officer Whitman as his No. 2, van Lierde picked up a visual sighting with the help of rockets fired from the ground. Both aircraft took turns firing at the Diver and the cannon shells, hitting home stopped the rocket motor and the bomb exploded on the ground near Ashford. At 2310 hours they saw the glow of another incoming Diver over Dungeness. Four miles inland, van Lierde flew down onto his target and a long burst of cannon shels sent the V-1 crashing down.
ww2dbaseHaving another good afternoon were the New Zealanders who brought down nine bombs. But the day was not a good one for No. 91 Squadron; although they shot down two Divers on their two patrols. Warranty Officer "Red" Blumer RAAF, crashed upon landing at Deanland and was killed. Blumer had only just returned to the Squadron after escaping captivity in France after being shot down the previous year.
ww2dbaseOn 26 Jun 1944 poor weather conditions prevailed across southern England and the rain and low cloud halted most of the flying. This had little effect on the V-1 flying bombs and south London received many hits. Clapham was hit around midnight when a bomb exploded in Gauden Road, killing eleven residents and causing widespread damage to houses. One of the residents killed was Russian born Vera Menchic-Stevenson, the reigning Women's World Chess Champion, her mother and younger sister were also killed.
ww2dbaseThere was now a growing fear within the areas of south and east London and many people were moving away seeking shelter with friends or relatives outside the area. Work was severely disrupted in the Croydon/Kenley area which had now got the title of "Doodlebug Alley". The population of these badly hit areas were unaware of the number of bombs being destroyed and were naturally worried. Due to the nature of the V-1 it was causing much more damage than the bombs dropped in the Blitz. The bombs glided down at an angle the blast and the effect of its explosion was far greater than conventional bombs. One V-1 explosion could wreck the roofs of up to 100 houses. The last days of the month saw severe disruption in the South London Boroughs with four main line Railway Stations out of action over periods and parts of the Underground halted. The War Cabinet met to discuss measures that could be taken. An idea was put forward to guarantee the immunity of specified German towns from Allied bombing and another proposal was to use poison gas and/or napalm on launch sites and known supply factories. These ideas met with no support from the Allied Supreme Commander, General Dwight Eisenhower or with the CIGS, General Sir Alan Brooke:
ww2dbaseThe BBC asked an RAF Spokesman, Squadron Leader John Strachley, to broadcast to the Nation:
ww2dbaseStrachley when on to say how the fighters and anti-aircraft batteries were getting better and trying all they could to guard the nation's capital adding that it always took time to deal with new weapons.
ww2dbaseMeasures were taken by bringing in more squadrons of fighters. No. 409 (RCAF) "The Nighthawk Squadron" based at Hunsdon near Harlow in Hertfordshire, together with No. 219 Squadron were put on Diver patrols as well as their intruder missions across the Channel.
ww2dbaseThe return of good flying weather on the last days of Jun 1944 saw the squadrons bringing down large numbers as before. 84 Squadron with their Mosquito XVII aircraft based at Swannington, north-west of Norwich started to use their night fighter skills in anti-diver patrols and No. 157 Squadron, also at Swannington and part of 100 Group RAF would patrol in their Mosquito XIX aircraft as well as escorting the bombers heading out from East Anglia. One of 157's navigators, Lewis Brandon later wrote a book intitled Night Flyer in which he graphically described the difficulties of flying at high speed in the dark.
ww2dbaseWith the success rate going up so the number of bombs being launched increased. Now all fighter Squadrons in the south-east of England were looking for Divers as part of their normal wartime sorties and escort work. One such was the veteran No. 74 Squadron stationed at Lympne, although they were due to move to Tangmere in the next few days, Flight Lieutenant Don Llewellyn and Sergeant J. Dazell shot down a V-1 apiece in their Spitfire LFIX fighters. The squadron had been told to send up a twin aircraft patrol each evening. Don Llewellyn recalled how, on the very first patrol flown, two Doodlebugs obligingly flew over the airfield at Lympe just after he and Sergeant Dazell had got to a suitable height to attack.
ww2dbaseThe last day of Jun 1944 brought with it what was the worst V-1 incident of the war. A Doodlebug's engine cut out as it past overhead at Waterloo Station, it lost height in a shallow dive till a few hundred feet high and then plunged down. It exploded it the centre of the Strand just outside the Air Ministry building in the Aldwych opposite the BBC at Bush House. The street was packed with people on their lunch break, many had taken an opportunity to get some sun and were on the rooftops. The blast waves went back and forth across the street, people were pulled out of the windows by the vacuum effect and many on the roof were blown off. In the street two busses were destroyed and shop fronts collapsed. A BBC worker recalled:
ww2dbaseForty-five had been killed outright and a further 130 would die through injuries received. A reporter at the scene spoke of the horror unfurling before him as the smoke and mist cleared and the bizarre sight of a snowfall of banknotes drifting down from high up in the buildings.
ww2dbaseThe month ended with no respite in view. Bombing of the launch sites had been carried out but those rare occasions when the target was hit little damage resulted. The ramps were easily re-built and since the rockets were sent to the sites, very few got destroyed. Bombing of the factories where they were made was nigh impossible as the Germans were using slave labour in deep mines. New ramps were being build in the Netherlands around the Rotterdam suburbs where bombing would have caused many civilian deaths. All the Allies could do was to face up to it and keep improving ways of dealing with the bombs.
ww2dbaseOne of No.74 Squadron's pilots Flight Lieutenant Don Llewellyn commented about the job:
ww2dbaseMrs. Elizabeth Gillard, resident in Hope Terrace in Snodland remembered a Saturday Night:
ww2dbasePart II: Jul 1944
ww2dbase"Total loss of production, both direct and indirect, in Greater London, amounts to 15-20% of the total man hours worked."
Ministerial memo from Ministry of Production to Winston Churchill, 20 Jul 1944.
ww2dbaseThe month started badly with a flying bomb making a direct hit on the Colindale Hospital in Hendon, killing five airmen, four WAAFs and a nurse. A doctor wrote in his diary:
ww2dbaseSouth of the Thames three bombs hit the Thornton Heath area of Croydon during the morning, resulting in 17 deaths and many houses badly damaged. Then in the afternoon, 18 people were killed in Bermondsey when a bomb made a direct hit on the Goat public house.
ww2dbaseThe month also started badly for No. 3 Squadron when the Intelligence Officer at Deanland received a call from his opposite number at Biggin Hill saying that a Tempest fighter had crashed nearby, the fuselage was shattered to pieces and strewn over an area of 300 yards, while the engine and cockpit had buried itself in the ground. The pilot was buried with the engine, with the exception of a leg which was found near the crater. The station personnel were digging for the pilot's body. The pilot was Flight Officer George Kosh aged 22 from Icklesham. He was identified by the serial number on the wrecked aircraft.
ww2dbaseThe evening brought a large wave of bombs overhead; on patrol were 91, 165 together with the New Zealanders of 586 Squadron. Between them they brought down eighteen bombs. Overall the number of Divers being caught by the defence ring of anti-aircraft, fighters and balloons was improving. The crews manning the balloons had them arranged at differing heights and spaces apart. It was a dangerous job, for if snagged on the cable the bomb whose engine often would keep running, could crash and explode anywhere near the balloon anchors. An eight-year-old boy later wrote about seeing a V-1 flying bomb get caught by a cable at Dunston Green in Berkshire. It spiralled down the cable and exploded above the Command Post, killing the crew inside.
ww2dbaseBy now most of the residents of all the boroughs of London and those in the south-eastern counties were well aware of the need to take cover when they noticed the engine fall silent. The bombs were indiscriminate and terrifying, Service Personnel were highly alert to the warning signs of a bomb coming to earth, however the irrational behaviour of the things as they dived down worried all.
ww2dbaseOn 2 Jul 1944 a wayward bomb that had swung north as it crossed the Channel exploded on a US Army Encampment in Suffolk. The news of this got in the Daily Mail:
ww2dbaseThere was a cool and changeable start to Jul 1944, this would sometimes prevent the aircraft from patrolling, with nearly 11-millimeter of rain falling on the afternoon of the 3 Jul. The unsettled weather continued throughout the month, although rainfall was often light. However, the fighters were up and flying at every opportunity. Two pilots from No. 96 Squadron returned to base having scored hat-tricks during the early hours, of the 2 Jul; the six bombs falling and exploding around Beachy Head.
ww2dbaseIn all seven Squadrons were in action on 3 Jul 1944, one of them No. 316 Squadron making its debut. This was a Polish Squadron which had been formed in Feb 1941 and by the end of May 1944 had switched to flying Mustang III fighters and were designated for Diver-patrol duties under the command of ADGB. RAF West Melling became its new location, which soon was changed for RAF Friston in east Sussex. The first of the Squadron's many successes was made by Sgt Antoni Murkowski. His target blew up in front of him and he thought that the Mustang would never recover, nevertheless he landed safely and upon inspection saw the aircraft was riddled with holes and both wingtips were blown off. The unit's Commander was Squadron Leader Bohdan Arct who, throughout the anti-Diver patrols, kept a full dairy noted:
ww2dbaseFlight Officer Dusty Miller, of 486 Squadron had a lucky escape when his Tempest V fighter was hit by anti-aircraft gunfire whilst he was chasing a target. Forced to bale out he found himself trapped, half in and half out of the cockpit, struggling frantically, he managed to get himself out and open his parachute just in time. Warrant Officer Jim Sheddan who had been flying with Miller sent Control the approximate position of Miller's misadventure in order that a search could be made. After a de-brief with the Intelligence Officer, he headed to the local pub still not knowing if his friend had made it safely to earth. He found Dusty at the bar with a beer in his hand surrounded by an admiring crowd, telling them all about his jump. He had landed a few yards away. Jim Sheddan said: "It had all the hallmarks of a put-up job, but that could not be, Dusty was just not that good at navigating."
ww2dbaseThis first week of Jul 1944 also saw something else for the fighter pilots to deal with; the commencement of Operation Rumpelkammer (Junk Room). This was the code name given to the air-launched V-1 campaign. Although the Operation had been initiated in the previous month, there had been a delay following a damaging US bomber raid on the airfield at Beauvais-Tillé. Now, with destroyed aircraft replaced 14 V-1 carrying Heinkel bombers of III/KG3 took off from Gilze-Rijen. The bombers would carry the weapons until reaching a point close to the coast when the V-1 flying bombs' engines were started, and upon release the jet would turn to full power. After an initial drop in height the bomb would carry on towards is target. On this first evening of Rumpelkammer all the bombs launched successfully and the bombers returned to base. The Germans regarded this as an important step in the fight; the static ramps were not the only method of getting the V-1 bombs airborne.
ww2dbaseSquadron Leader R. Bannock RCAF of 418 Squadron RCAF thought that the best idea for getting at the Divers was to attack them near to the launch sites soon after being launched. He headed over the Channel to Abbeville and arrived there just as a stream of V-1 flying bombs was taking off and despite the high amount of flak directed at him, shot down three. He flew back to Holmsley South well pleased that he had let the Germans see what the Mosquito VI could do in the night time. However, the hazards remained, Flight Sergeant K. Weller of No. 1 Squadron spoke of a close call:
ww2dbaseDuring the night of 4/5 Jul 1944 a total of 22 Heinkel bombers of III/KG3 took off from Gilze-Rijen, again all went well for them and the southern boroughs of London were hit repeatedly. The Mosquito aircraft of 85 and 96 Squadrons were intercepting where they could with 456 Squadron's Mosquitos being at the right spot for action, intercepting bomb carrying He 177 bombers from 1/KG40 just north of Cherbourg, shooting down three. The first to go down was from 4 Staffel commanded by Oberleutnant Waldemar Hunold who was killed with four of his crew; one survivor being taken prisoner, another of the Heinkel aircraft tried to land at Cognac airfield but crashed, killing the crew. Missile carrying Do 217K bombers from KG100 which had also flown sorties over the Thames Estuary had no luck either, three being shot down by the night fighters from 456 Squadron, helped by a Mosquito aircraft flown by Squadron Leader Bill Gill of No. 125 Squadron who bought down another Dornier over Alen?on.
ww2dbaseDuring this first week of the month RAF Newchurch received a visit from Ernest Hemingway, the author who was then a war correspondent for the American magazine Colliers, wrote a glowing account of the pilots and their machines:
ww2dbaseAlso reflecting on the past month was Pilot Officer Buck Feldman of 3 Squadron:
ww2dbaseFrom the civilian point of view, Frank Williams, a teenager at the time, living in Maidstone recalled:
ww2dbaseThe first week of Jul 1944 ended and the death toll within the London area was mounting, many Londoners were demanding more information about the campaign. It was no longer possible to apply the Government's censorship policy and Winston Churchill was forced to make a statement to the Parliament. In his speech he announced that up to the 6 Jul 2,752 people had been killed by the flying bombs and about 8,000 detained in hospital. The RAF had been constantly attacking launch sites and that 50,000 tons of bombs had been dropped but still between 150 and 200 of the doodlebugs were being launched daily. He finished by saying that he could give no guarantee that any of these evils will finally be prevented before the time comes when the soil from which these attacks come has been finally liberated:
ww2dbaseNo. 3 Squadron were continuing to add to their score of Divers, in the first week of July they had accounted for over 50, while No. 418 (RCAF) had an excellent night on 6/7th Jul, shooting down 13. The Canadian Squadron Leader Russ Bannock getting a "hat trick" (ie. three) and a fourth over Beachy Head. Bannock later wrote about hunting the Divers in the dark:
ww2dbaseThe following week saw all ADGB Squadrons adding to their score sheets; starting with the Poles getting to grip with the method of attacking the bombs, 316 Squadron bringing down eight during the afternoon. Pilot Officer Konstanty Cynkier was forced to crash land his Mustang on his return to West Malling, after his target blew up in front of him, causing a glycol leak. Cynkier would later be killed in action on 3 Sep together with Zigfryd Narloch whilst on a raid over Norway. The Poles were joined by the Dutch of 332 Squadron, also from West Malling and the New Zealanders from 486 Squadron. In all over 50 Divers were brought down that afternoon by the combined Squadrons. This was followed in the late evening by a round dozen shot down over east Kent and Sussex by the Spitfire fighters of 91 Squadron. The last was at 2336 hours when Flight Officer H. Neil sent one plunging to the beach at Dungeness.
ww2dbaseThe Poles were soon getting the hang of shooting down the bombs, showing all the eagerness that they had during the battle of Britain, however they sometimes learnt the hard way. Flight Officer Tadeusz Karnkowski scored his first over Beckley where it crashed in woodland, minutes later he saw another but overshot the target, by throttling back he overturned the Diver with his port wing. He then engaged a third, once more using his wing tip. Getting too close he damaged his wing and had to make it back to base, upon approach he found the port undercarriage would not drop down and had to belly land on the grass. Squadron Leader Arct:
ww2dbaseOn 9 Jul 1944 Flight Officer Bill Marshall of 91 Squadron was chasing a low flying bomb and realised that if he brought it down it would in all probability fall on the town of Lydd. He closed his Spitfire fighter to about 75 yards of the target in order to explode it in the air. The bomb duly blew up and the blast almost flipped his aircraft completely over, yet he regained control and the town escaped any damage Two squadrons of Czech pilots were up that night too, patrolling over the Romney Marshes which were rapidly filling up with craters from the downed V-1 flying bombs. One pilot, anxious to prevent a bomb landing on Hailsham brought down onto a farmyard where unfortunately it blew a haystack over two farmworkers, killing them both. This sort of tragedy always worried the pilots, and although they knew that preventing the bombs from reaching the capital was their task, there was always the chance of the people living in the country villages and farms getting killed or hurt. On 12 Jul one such bomb came down onto Beechmont a large old house near to Sevenoaks, which was being used as a billet for ATS girls maintaining army vehicles which were being stored at nearby Knole Park. Luckily many of the girls had left for work but two were killed and 44 badly injured with crush wounds as the building collapsed. Another tragic incident was when a Diver, brought down by a Tempest aircraft, impacted in central East Grinstead. The bomb, damaged but still under reduced power, came down in a low trajectory making the blast damage terrific. Two elderly men who could not seek cover quickly enough were killed and 41 seriously wounded. Over 400 properties were damaged including shops. The news of so many people left homeless brought the King and Queen to the town. In a bizarre coincidence the bomb had exploded very near to where a Do 217 aircraft had dropped a stick of bombs almost exactly a year before. That incident had seen 108 residents killed and had damaged many of the same properties.
ww2dbaseDuring the first half of Jul fighters had accounted for over 500 V-1 flying bombs, whilst the anti-aircraft batteries had destroyed 91 and the barrage balloons had snared 43. The amount of success by the anti-aircraft guns would suddenly rise of the following weeks and by the end of Jul the monthly total would be 297. This was due to various tactical and technological developments.
ww2dbaseThere had been advances in the centimetric gun laying radar and the use of the proximity fuse and Bell laboratories had started to deliver a new anti-aircraft fire control system; an analogue computer sighting and predictor system, which replaced the old Kerrison Predicter. At the start of the campaign it was taking over 2,000 shells to bring down a flying bomb; by the middle of Aug it was less than 100. In the last week in Aug, the anti-aircraft guns would account for 80% of all the Divers sent over.
ww2dbaseOn 14 Jul 1944 the government announced that the total number of bombs launched was 3,526. There was a growing fear in people and they were starting to leave the area in large numbers both through official or un-official evacuation. By this date it was estimated that around 15,000 people were leaving per day and by the end of the campaign up to two million had left. This created almost empty streets in some areas, and food which had been in short supply, became more plentiful. This evacuation without doubt saved lives. The period of elation after D-day had passed and the people were becoming despondent. After five years of war there was still no end in sight.
ww2dbaseOn the night of 14/15 Jul, a total of 22 sorties was flown by the Heinkel bombers of III/KG3 from Rosi?res, Southampton being the target. Night fighters brought down some of the Divers but a lot of damage was caused by them on the Isle of Wight. An American pilot of the 422nd Night fighter Squadron (USSAF) thought he had got his first kill when he saw a bomb, the dive in his P-61 fighter however, shattered the plexiglass tailcone of his aircraft. Upon landing it was seen that the pressure in the dive had done the damage.
ww2dbaseThe middle of the month saw changes in the anti-aircraft and fighter rules of engagement, General Sir Fredrick Pile, commanding officer of Anti-Aircraft Command had been lobbying to get an arrangement that would give his batteries and the fighters the best chances of defeating the bomb menace. He had come frustrated at the very complicated rules that saw some batteries not firing much more than a few rounds due to aircraft in the area and the idle crews watching targets fly over them unmolested. An idea was then put before the government that Pile considered one of the most important decisions he made, a decision that would cause difficulties and a row between Services. Duncan Sandys, Chairman of the War Cabinet Committee for defence against the German flying bombs and rockets, realised that Pile's new deployment was a sound idea and announced that "The Bold step" was to be made to uplift the anti-aircraft defence and put it along the coast.
ww2dbaseThis was a huge undertaking, obviously there was little time to construct standard gun platforms, or available labour to build them. A REME Officer Brigadier John Burls designed a movable platform of steel rails and railway sleepers that, when filled with ballast, was a sturdy as any other used. Despite huge difficulties involved, 441 static guns were uprooted together with all their stores and equipment, the majority by road. The setting up of these platforms along the coast was one of the many un-sung operations of the war and undoubtably saved many lives by increasing the number of Divers brought down. A great deal of help in equipment was given by the United States Army in moving over 8,000 tons of material, digging wells, laying roads and building shelters and command posts, all to be linked by miles of telephone cables.
ww2dbaseHowever, this step caused trouble between the Services. The RAF were not impressed with, in all probability, having their successes decrease. As Pile wrote later:
ww2dbaseThe plan was that there should be a gun-belt all along the coast from Dover to Beachy Head, it was to be 5,000 yards deep and extend 10,000 yards over the sea. The fighters would operate over the English Channel and also behind the belt intercepting the bombs that got through. Fights flying over the gun belt would fly at over 8,000 feet to be safe from the barrage.
ww2dbaseThe movement of the batteries commenced on 14 Jul with another 12 mixed heavy anti-aircraft batteries added. During the week, besides the guns themselves, 23,000 men and women were moved forward, safely billeted with all their kit and stores, over 30,000 tons of stores and one million rounds of heavy anti-aircraft ammunition was transported by 8,000 lorries and almost 9,000 RASC men. The supposedly "static" Anti-Aircraft Command would register more than 2,750,000 miles of movement all in one week, all the guns were moved and in operation by dawn of the 17 Jul.
ww2dbaseIt was during this week that the defence command noticed that more Divers were now flying up the Thames Estuary than before. A "box" defence, both north and south of the river was quickly deployed of 208 heavy anti-aircraft guns together with approximately 450 light 40-millimeter and 20-millimeter guns added. In the days and weeks to come the tide of the battle with the bombs started to turn, the scale of success increased steadily.
ww2dbaseAir Marshal Hill, later wrote about the day that the new system came into force:
ww2dbaseTrue to his word, the Air Marshall flew in his Tempest aircraft from Station to Station, boosting the morale of the pilots.
ww2dbase17 Jul 1944 saw No. 41 Squadron lose two pilots when a Spitfire fighter piloted by Flight Sergeant Roger Short collided with a Tiger Moth biplane flown by Flight Sergeant Cliff Oddy. The death of the two pilots prompted an investigation and it showed that Oddy's flight over the airfield at that time was unauthorised. That evening saw the crew of a Beaufighter of OTU from RAF Cranfield have a lucky escape when they flew into one of the newly moved Balloon cables. The plane came down with an engine blazing at Werke Farm near Deal, but the crew survived.
ww2dbaseMany of the Divers coming up the Thames Estuary were being launched by III/KG3 based at Rosi?res Fourteen sorties were flown on 17 Jul 1944 and all bombs launched successfully with the Heinkel aircraft returning to base. Meanwhile the Staffeln at Gilze-Rijen were almost operational. Some of the bombs launched hit the Deptford dock area, a US amphibious base was damaged and two killed. Further to the south, a bomb hit the Elmer's End bus depot in Beckenham killing London transport workers and some Home Guard soldiers.
ww2dbaseThe perils of flying the night fighter was brought home to 96 Squadron when Squadron Leader Alistair Parker-Rees, after sending down a V-1 flying bomb, saw tracer passing beneath his Mosquito from another Allied night fighter. With one engine and wing on fire, he and his navigator baled out into the English Channel where HMS Obedient (G-48), an O-Class destroyer commanded by Lieutenant Commander H. Unwin, DSC and Bar, RN. Would "fish him out".
ww2dbaseWednesday 19 Jul 1944 saw the bombs come in waves starting in the morning and 3 Squadron were soon called on to operate behind the batteries at Dungeness and Hastings, the pilots were joined by the Wing Commander who, flying a Tempest V fighter brought down the first over Rye. Seven more would fall to the Squadron. 91 Squadron flew two patrols, both successful with Lieutenant Henri de Bordas, a French pilot who saw his target explode at the roadside near East Grinstead. The Poles too, were enjoying what they called their "witch hunt", Flight Sergeant Jankowski sending here down in the fields near Lamberhurst.
ww2dbaseSuch were the numbers of Divers crossing the Channel that although the batteries were shooting them down others were passing over the guns unscathed. The wo Polish Squadrons, 306 and 315, together with the Dutch of 322 Squadron shot down over eighteen during the afternoon.
ww2dbaseThe following night, prior to handing over to the Stafflen at Gilze-Rijen, III/KG3 put up all available aircraft some flying two sorties for a total of 26 bombs launched. They suffered no losses. One of these V-1 flying bombs went astray and headed north, eventually exploding on the perimeter of the USAAF Base at Thorpe Abbots in Norfolk which was home to the famous "Bloody One Hundredth". A diarist at the Base recorded:
ww2dbaseIn the early hours of 21 Jul 1944, RAF Manton reported an unidentified aircraft in its landing circuit and, at 0240 hours, a Bf 109G fighter (White 16/41 2951) landed safely, its surprised pilot Leutnant Horst Prenzel of 1/JG301 had gone astray and had taken Manston as a French airfield. He had been on patrol looking for British night fighters over the Pas de Calais launch sites. Five minutes after he landed another Bf 109G fighter (Yellow 8/163240) on the same duty and from the same Gruppe also came in to land, fearing he was about to overshoot, Feldwebel Manfred Gromill of 3 Staffel, pulled up his undercarriage and belly landed, damaging the aircraft. The two were quickly taken prisoner and the aircraft put by the hanger to be dealt with in the morning. Some time later a Swordfish aircraft of 819 Squadron who were based at Manston at this time came in to land. The pilot, tired after a long patrol, swung off the runway and came to an abrupt halt when he saw the two German fighters. He and his navigator were both convinced that they had landed in enemy territory, and the pilot, swearing at his companion, started to turn the aircraft around for a hasty take off. However before becoming airborne they saw RAF trucks speeding towards them across the grass. They soon learned of the night's visitors and, somewhat shaken went and had breakfast. Both German pilots had two victories each against Allied bombers, Prenzel's aircraft was taken to RAE Farnborough and allotted number TP814 and it became part of 1246 Enemy Aircraft Flight which toured British and American airfields in company with other captured aircraft. However, on 23 Nov 1944 it crashed upon take off and was destroyed.
ww2dbaseSix missile-armed Do 217 bombers from III/KG100 were sent to intercept the Royal Navy's 14th Destroyer Escort group off the French coast near Brest. The group was being watched over by a Mosquito aircraft and three Beaufighter aircraft from 406 (RCAF) Squadron and four from 248 Squadron (Coastal Command). The German aircraft were immediately engaged by the escorting fighters and in the short but sharp fight that followed, three enemy planes were accounted for. However, Flight Sergeant Walter Scott and his observer Flight Sergeant John Blackburn were killed when their Mosquito was seen to plunge into the sea. As this fight ended, two more Mosquito aircraft from 235 Squadron were ordered up to relieve the British planes as they headed home as there was some concern that more German bombers were approaching. The weather by then had deteriorated and the aircraft had to fly through dense cloud, the two Mosquito aircraft separated to avoid collision but soon after, Flight Officer M. Dodd's Mosquito dipped a wing into the sea and cartwheeled into the water at high speed, killing both him and his observer. Two of the German crews were fished out of the English Channel by the Royal Navy, the third crew were never found.
ww2dbaseAs the month of Jul 1944 entered its last week the government made an announcement that the total number of V-1 flying bombs launched up to then was 4,056 and after a brief spell after the 10 Jul, London was once more the target. This was proved within hours as a massive attack of the bombs started 63 bombs penetrated both the anti-aircraft and the busy fighters and impacted on London, killing or injuring 180 people. No. 3 Squadron were up in force throughout the day and brought down sixteen, 56 and 91 were both kept busy during the evening as the flood of Divers continued. Flight Sergeant Lawrence Jackson of 56 Squadron sighted one "near Robertsbridge at 2,000 feet, I fired all my Tempest's ammunition from 200 yards and the Diver exploded next to the Tunbridge Wells to Robertsbridge railway line."
ww2dbaseLater in the evening 129 Squadron took off from RAF Brenzett and their Mustang fighters accounted for ten, its best daily total, the last of the day being hit by Flight Lieutenant Bertie Bassett who was aided by a Spitfire fighter. He intercepted the Diver four miles north-west of Dymchurch at 2,000 feet and attacked from the starboard quarter at 150 yards. Fuel was seen to ignite and the V-1 bomb started to glide down, a Spitfire fighter then nipped in front of Bassett and caused it to explode in mid-air. Bassett did not wait to see if the Spitfire had been damaged, luckily it wasn't and the pilot returned to Deanland with a singed aircraft.
ww2dbaseThe new placement of the anti-aircraft batteries brought a sharp rise in Divers brought down as they came into range and the fighter pilots' score sheets slowed down, there was also more pilots up flying on patrol and many "kills" were made with two, or sometimes three fighters being involved. However 3 Squadron continued to be successful, bringing down eight on 26 Jul. The Belgian pilot Remy van Lierde took off on patrol as darkness fell in company with Flight Officer Malcolm Edwards, van Lierde added two to his score sheet and then helped Edwards "kill" another. Edwards would be killed in action after being shot down by the railway line at Spelle, Germany on 12 Dec 1944.
ww2dbase68 Squadron lost a pilot during the night of 24/25 Jul 1944, he had been sent to search for a missing bomber when a flying bomb was seen approaching. He radioed back saying he had attacked and the bomb had exploded, then silence. Flight Lieutenant Fred Kemp's wife Ellen and their two children had been killed recently when a Diver hit their house in Charlton, London. His navigator James Farrer, aged 20, was a promising novelist and poet, some of his work was published after the war.
ww2dbaseAs the month came to an end pilots were able to take longer breaks between patrols, avoiding the strain of exhaustion. But even when relaxing the war was never very far away. Flight Officer Jack Batchelor of 1 Squadron at RAF Lympne wrote:
ww2dbase On the night of the 26/27 Jul 1944 III/KG3, operating from the French airfield at Roye/Amy flew 19 sorties, all returning safely. The bombs launched all got through to impact on the south London area, flattening a girl's school in Streatham and destroying houses and flats in Beckenham five bodies were found in the wrecked homes. Again one of the bombs had suddenly turned northwards and came down at Great Warley in Essex killing one, the first fatality in East Anglia.
ww2dbaseThe Mosquito aircraft were busy hunting down the Divers that crossed the coast and avoided the guns. Two aircraft from 418 Squadron RCAF were actually over the channel and shot down two before they reached the 10,000-yard zone, while 96 Squadron, operating beside them over the sea shot down another four. It was not all success though, Squadron Leader Dick Jephson of FTR was returning from a night sortie over the French coast. He reported that he had just shot down what he believed to be a Ju88 which had blown up when his radio went silent. It is believed that the aircraft was carrying a bomb and his Mosquito aircraft was destroyed by the blast.
ww2dbaseDuring the course of 25 sorties flown by III/KG3 they suffered three casualties and another Heinkel bomber arrived back badly damaged by flak with a dead gunner. The cause of the three losses is not known, there were no reports of fighters bringing them down. One of the bombs launched went on a northerly course eventually exploding in the village of Benhall in Suffolk. Another,that got through the defences, exploded in the crowded Lewisham Town Centre. It exploded in the market after sliding of a roof of a street level air-raid shelter, outside the front of the Marks and Spencer's shop. Fifty-nine were killed outright with another 124 having to be hospitalised where more succumbed to the injuries.
ww2dbase3 and 91 Squadrons were again in the thick of it with their Spitfire fighters operating behind the coastal batteries with Squadron Leader Norman Kynaston (91 Squadron) scored his 17th (and last) kill over Tenterten, the bomb exploding on the ground. Remy van Lierde continued to add to his score with two kills, one shared with Flight Sergeant H. Bailey. 332 Squadron, a Dutch Unit commanded by Maj Keith Kuhlmann DFC, a South African were up in their Spitfire XIVs, Kuhlmann was not actually on patrol bu had taken up a Spitfire fighter for an air test when he saw a Diver: "The Diver was past the guns at Dungeness, intercepted and attacked line astern, range 300 yards. Strikes were seen on the propulsion unit and Diver crashed and exploded a mile north-west of Lamberhurst."
ww2dbaseFlight Officer Basil Bensted of 605 Squadron, flying Mosquito behind the guns at Deal/Dover around midnight when a wave of V-1 flying bombs arrived over the area:
ww2dbaseThe last day of Jul 1944 saw the Germans launch 20 sorties flown by III/KG3 during the night, two waves of Heinkel bombers crossed the English Channel heading for the Thames Estuary. This time they were met with the Mosquito aircraft of 129 and the Canadians of 418 Squadron with seven of the bombs being shot down. Eight of the Divers hit the capital and two others fell in Essex, the worst being when Greenwich was hit and 53 people were injured with houses and shops badly damaged. During the day the two Polish Squadrons managed to bring down four Divers, however, the Polish pilots noticed that the new arrangement of the anti-aircraft guns was cutting down the numbers getting through.
ww2dbaseLooking back on the month of Jul, the adjutant of 3 Squadron at RAF Newchurch, Morian Williams wrote:
ww2dbaseA.W. Hall, then an eight-year old schoolboy living in Sevenoaks, Kent, said of the campaign up to the end of Jul:
ww2dbaseFor the hunt was up at the break of day
Over Sussex and Kent towards London Way
Where the evil black fox goes streaking away
To the sound of the siren's warning.
ww2dbasePart III: Aug-Dec 1944
ww2dbase"It was like heaven after London."
An Ealing woman after evacuating to Scotland, Recalling July 1944.
ww2dbaseThe new month saw no easing of the number of flying bombs being launched and despite good flying weather for the RAF and the increasing numbers being brought down by anti-aircraft fire, the southern London boroughs were being hit repeatedly. A flying bomb hit a restaurant in Beckenham, south-east London on 2 Aug 1944, killing forty-four people and sending many to hospital where the death toll would rise. An American reporter from Time magazine happened to be nearby:
ww2dbaseBehind the anti-aircraft batteries, the patrolling RAF fighters had their hands full; Flight Sergeant Ronnie van Beers of 322 (Dutch) Squadron brought down a Diver near Tunbridge Wells; this would be the Dutch unit's 100th kill. Although the new rules of engagement introduced during Jul 1944 had cut the incidents of fighters coming under friendly fire, the Polish pilots of 315 Squadron, in action over the English Channel, were vectored home by way of the safety lane over the coast only to find themselves coming under heavy and sustained anti-aircraft fire, luckily no damage or loss was caused by this error, but "the airwaves were full of Polish, sounding indignant".
ww2dbaseThe British had been developing and testing the Gloster Meteor jet powered fighter and the aircraft would soon become operational. The task of carrying out the testing of this new aircraft was 616 Squadron based at RAF Manston. One of the problems that had arisen concerned the ammunition feed system and ejector shuts of the 20-millimeter Hispano cannons. By the beginning of Aug the squadron had six Mk 1 aircraft with the promise of the more powerfully powered Mk 3 to follow.
ww2dbaseBy now there were fifteen fighter squadrons operating in daylight defence including the Meteor fighters of 616 Squadron which now became operational. These squadrons had their fighters all modified to take the 150-grade fuel. There were also five night fighter squadrons, two intruder squadrons and the fighters of the FIU. The USAAF 422nd Night-Fighter Squadron of Northrop P-61 Black Widow fighters was taken off anti-Diver patrols and moved to Maupertus in Normandy, France.
ww2dbase616 Squadron took Meteor fighters up on four patrols on the 2 Aug 1944, led by Squadron Leader Les Watts with Flight Officer Derek "Dixie" Dean, Flight Officer Bill McKenzie, a Canadian, and the Free French pilot Flight Officer Jean Clerc. They patrolled the area between Ashford and Robertsbridge, albeit without any success. Success would not be long in coming however, on 4 Aug their first flying-bomb was shot down. "Dixie" Dean took off from Manston at 1545 hours to patrol the inland area under Kingsley ll (Biggin Hill) Control. At 1616 hours a Diver was picked up at an altitude of 1,000 feet near Tonbridge flying at a speed of 365 miles per hour. Dean dived down from 4,500 feet reaching a speed of 450 miles per hour, and opened fire from dead astern; the Meteor fighter's cannons failed to fire once again. Dean flew level alongside the bomb and brought his wing tip a few inches under the wing of the flying bomb and by pulling upwards sharply he sent the bomb diving to earth four miles south of Tonbridge. Early in the morning of 7 Aug over Robertsbridge, Dean brought down his second.
ww2dbaseThat same day, the Right Honourable Sir Archibald Sinclair, Secretary of State for Air, arrived at the station where Wing Commander McDowall introduced him to all the pilots while doing so two Meteors were scrambled giving the pilots a chance of demonstrating the Meteor. By now 33 pilots had progressed to flying the aircraft although currently only a dozen of the aircraft were operational.
ww2dbaseDuring the first week of the month, in the hours of darkness, 7 Staffel of III/KG3 which had moved to Venlo in the Netherlands, sent out sorties of aircraft with flying bombs attached with the Dornier 217M aircraft of III/KG100. The Dornier aircraft were sent to attack US forces near Avranches but were picked up by the prowling Mosquito aircraft of 488 Squadron resulting in two German planes being shot down, another Dornier aircraft was shot down by 410 Squadron's commanding officer, Dean Somerville in his Mosquito:
ww2dbaseIt was not only the pilots who were in danger, RAF Hendon received a direct hit from a flying bomb on Thursday 3 Aug 1944. The explosion demolished accommodation huts and a barrack block where five airmen were killed and 25 hospitalized. Soldiers from the nearby Army School of Physical Training who were billeted at the Hendon Police College assisted the RAF personnel rescue to dig out the injured. At the home of the P-47 equipped 416th FBG, Great Chart ALG near Ashford, the pilots were lining up on the runway ready for take-off when a V-1 flying bomb was seen flying directly at them. It fell to earth and exploded at the end of the runway. No one was hurt from the blast although several on the base were hit by falling shrapnel and the take-offs were postponed whilst a team cleared debris from the runway.
ww2dbaseAbove the village of Tenderten, Kent, seven bombs were shot down by No. 3 Squadron, the falling bombs damaged several properties and injured over twenty residents. This section of south east England would see flying bombs being brought down for the following three days. The historic building, Scotney Castle near Lamberhurst, Kent was narrowly missed by a bomb spiralling down after damage from a fighter, the explosion damaged twelve worker's cottages nearby. Later in the day another shot down Diver landed north of the castle hitting an ammunition store, the following explosions wrecked the store and houses adjacent to it. Another of Britain's ancient Castles, Leeds Castle, not far from Maidstone had eight Divers crash nearby, brought down by the Mustang fighters of 129 Squadron.
ww2dbaseSix Dornier 217M aircraft from III/KG100 repeated their attempt to destroy the bridge Pontaubault in Normandy, but the bridges escaped any damage from the flying bombs but was slightly damaged by a conventional bomb. The bridge would escape any damage and on 1 Aug General George Patton's VIII Army Corps would cross following the success of Operation Cobra. Flight Lieutenant Reg Foster DFC of 604 Squadron was vectored to the area during the German attack and brought down the Dornier piloted by Oberfeldwebel Helmut John, it was Foster's sixth victory. He caught up with the enemy aircraft just as it was about to release its flying bomb. III/KG3 flew their Heinkel aircraft on the night of 5/6 Aug, this night all 22 of the aircraft returned to base, and their bombs killed and injured people in Sidcup, eleven miles south-east of central London and nearby Brockley where a further two residents were killed.
ww2dbaseAt the start of the second week of the month, 1st Lieutenant Garth Peterson USSAF flying his P-61 aircraft out of RAF Ford encountered a Diver flying at 180 miles per hour, he dived upon it and his fire disabled the power unit of the bomb and it plunged into the sea close to the French coast. This would be the last action of the P-61 aircraft against the flying bombs, the unit was about to fly to their new base in Normandy.
ww2dbaseThe first Saturday of the month, a hot summer's day, saw Dartford get a devastating strike by a Diver exploding in Carrington Road, 20 houses were completely wrecked with up to 700 damaged by the blast. Ten residents were killed and many more taken to hospital and treated for cuts of different severities mostly caused by the amount of flying glass. The injuries suffered by people were different in some ways to those suffered by people wounded during the Blitz earlier in the war. The nature of the flying bomb in falling from a low height and sometimes even coming down in a shallow glide gave it a tremendous blast effect. The blast would hurl victims into walls and objects and small fragments of brick, glass and metal would be spread at great velocity. Injuries from glass amounted to 40% of hospital casualties. Blinding was common as were fractures and medical staff often found patients had pieces of household objects embedded in their bodies. Many wounded were found stripped of their clothing, elderly had had dentures blown out and many, who wore spectacles had their eyes damaged as they were hit in the blast. Many men and women hospital staff and the emergency services found themselves being much more effected by the effects of these bombs than they had been during the Blitz, but thanked heaven that now they had penicillin to halt infections that before had claimed the lives of the wounded. One ARP Warden's remembered:
ww2dbaseThe week commencing 8 Aug 1944 saw the Polish Squadrons in action, with 316 Squadron patrolling over the Channel and 306 together with 315 flying behind the anti-aircraft batteries around the Brenzett area. Warrant Officer Czeslaw Bartlomiejczyk of 316 Squadron, accounting for four bombs within five minutes. Three more squadrons were active over the Tenterden area of Sussex; the villages in this rural part of Sussex escaped most of the falling bombs however, with so many being shot down it was inevitable that injury and damage would follow. The Agricultural Hostel used by the Land Army at Benenden and four nearby houses was badly damaged resulting in four people being killed and 33 injured. During the evening, pilots of the FIU on patrol over the Maidstone area were battling with V-1 flying bombs that had passed through the anti-aircraft cordon, one Diver, shot down, fell on the entrance to Cobtree Zoo, slightly injuring a night watchman.
ww2dbaseClear weather was helping both the anti-aircraft guns and the fighters; the Polish Squadrons over the English Channel brought down 14 bombs on 19 Aug. The pilots were flying out almost to the French coast at Gris Nez, locating the Diver as it made its way out of the sea and then chasing it. The area five miles out from Dungeness was becoming a dangerous area for shipping with the bombs coming down. The Divers were now coming in clusters; unknown to the pilots the Germans had started to use this launch pattern after listening in on the Allied pilots' chatter, after hearing pilots vector each other to targets, it was hoped that the clusters of bombs would prove more difficult for the pilots to deal with.
ww2dbaseAfter the visit from the Air Minister, Flight Officer Dean's two successes and the modification to the 20-millimeter cannons being successful, morale at 616 Squadron at Manston was high. However new problems now arose in obtaining accurate speed control. Flight Officer Mike Cooper wrote:
ww2dbaseA tragic accident occurred during the night of 8/9 Aug 1944 when Flight Officer Terry Wood from 604 squadron on a night patrol reported that he had shot down a Do 217 aircraft:
ww2dbaseTheir victim was, tragically, not a Dornier aircraft but an Albemarle P1501 of 296 Squadron being flown by Warrant Officer Bruce Stenning RAAF. It had been engaged on a secret supply dropping SOE mission. The pilot and his crew of four were lost.
ww2dbaseTwo Divers had now been reported as carrying 1-kilogram incendiary bombs, the second had scattered the bombs over Lamberhurst after a fighter attack. As the second week of Aug progressed the number of V-1 flying bombs being launched intensified; this was met with the constantly improving anti-aircraft fire and the pilots on patrol out over the Channel; these pilots had a week of almost perfect flying weather in which to select and destroy their foe.
ww2dbaseAir Marshall Roderick Hill seeing that most of the Diver activity was taking place at night, now came to a decision to counter this. On 10 Aug 1944 Squadron Leader Gary Barnett RNZAF and 20 pilots from 501 Squadron were posted to 274 Squadron, also at Manston, which was re-equipping with Tempest aircraft. Barnett was to take command when the incumbent, Squadron Leader James Edwards RCAF DFC DFM finished his tour. To replace Barnett at 501 Squadron, the recently promoted Squadron Leader Joe Berry arrived together with five more experienced Tempest pilots from the FIU, including an American, Flight Officer Bud Miller USAAF. One of the five, Flight Officer R. G. Lucas, contracted tuberculosis shortly after and had to be hospitalised. 501 Squadron now became a night fighter unit operating solely against the V-1 flying bombs. Air Marshall Hill later wrote:
ww2dbaseThe night of 11/12 Aug saw the renewal of sorties flown by the Heinkel aircraft of III/KG3 based at Rosi?res in northern France; 25 were flown with some pilots flying two, no planes were lost. The anti-aircraft batteries at Folkestone and Hythe accounted for eleven of the bombs and a further four were snared by the balloon barrage placed around Dartford. Bombs that got through the defences caused a lot of damage and two deaths in Nunhead in south-east London. Eight Squadrons were airborne and most of the successes were made by 501 Squadron flying the new Tempest V aircraft; eight V-1 flying bombs being shot down over the mid Channel area. The American Flying Officer, Bud Miller having only been with the units a short time doubled his score of kills by adding three more to the previous night's patrol.
ww2dbaseHowever 274 Squadron regarded these newly delivered Tempest aircraft with mixed feelings. The commanding officer, Squadron Leader James "Stocky" Edwards remembered:
ww2dbaseMeanwhile III/KG3 was pulling out all the stops, the night 12/13 Aug saw 36 sorties carried out with some crews making two missions again, their good fortune continued with all aircraft returning safely. One of the bombs they launched caused a serious incident at Norwood in south-east London where eight were killed and widespread damage made many homeless. One of the Divers made a wide turn northwards flying on over the county of Suffolk and coming down in the village of Cockfield near Bury St Edmunds. Strangely the bomb became hooked up in a tree and the warhead broke away and exploded, not harming the rest of the missile which was taken away to be examined.
ww2dbaseBy now the night fighter squadrons were operating much closer to the enemy coast and intercepting the V-1 flying bombs shortly after their launch and 418 Squadron RCAF brought down three bombs on enemy soil. However, the poor visibility over areas of southeast England caused 274 Squadron to lose their first Tempest and its pilot when 21-year old Flight Sergeant Royston Ryman from Cardiff was killed, flying into a hillside at Elham near Canterbury.
ww2dbaseThe Luftwaffe base at Rosi?res was now being evacuated as the Allied advance approached; their aircraft were flown to Venlo in the Netherlands on 14 Aug 1944 and the ground crews and other personnel followed. It would be almost a week before flights could resume. Operating over the English Channel were 96 Squadron's Mustang fighters together with those of the Canadians and Australians of 418 and 456 Squadrons; by now the pilots had learned how near to the English coast they could fly, Mosquito crews had to break away and see the Divers they had damaged slow down to become easy targets for the anti-aircraft fire. No. 96 Squadron lost another crew and Mosquito aircraft when, Flight Sergeant Leslie Read and his Navigator Warrant Officer Bill Gerret were killed when their aircraft suddenly veered off the runway whilst taking off at RAF Ford, the plane ploughed through a blister hanger and into a brick wall where it exploded. No reason could be found for this accident from the wreckage.
ww2dbaseThroughout the month, the anti-aircraft defence barrier had been growing in size and the confidence in their use of the equipment. A new unit, the US 127th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment had one battalion based at Dover. They accounted for over 50 bombs before the end of Aug 1944. It was always in the minds of the anti-aircraft gunners that a possible tragic event of a shot down Diver causing death and injury could happen and this was realised on 14 Aug. A Diver hit by the guns at Hythe fell hitting a house very near to the emplacements, the five people inside the house were killed and five gun anti-aircraft crew suffered blast injuries.
ww2dbaseThe danger these bombs presented to pilots was demonstrated yet again when Flight Officer Peter Graham of 41 Squadron dived down from 12,000 feet onto a Diver, his Spitfire aircraft was suddenly flipped onto its back by the bomb's slipstream. After a hair-raising battle to regain control he attempted to get onto its tail but from above. After firing a short burst his aircraft was again troubled in the turbulence and he broke off to try again whereupon the V-1 flying bomb entered the balloon barrage and escaped.
ww2dbaseThe Poles of 316 Squadron, having been stood down for a while from anti-Diver patrols got themselves involved in a Ranger operation during which Squadron Leader Bodhan Arct brought down a Bf 109 and Flight Officer Antoni Cholajda claimed a Fw 190 and a Bf 109 followed by Warrant Officer Józef Feruga claiming another Bf 109. On 26 Aug the squadron moved to RAF Coltishall and became part of the 12th Fighter Group. The Squadron ended the war with a fine record. In his book, Hitler's Revenge Weapons, the author says this about Squadron Leader Arct:
ww2dbaseThe Meteor Squadron, 616 lost one of their new young pilots when he crashed attempting to land at Great Chard ALG after an aborted attempt to fly the plane to High Halden from where he was to join the Readiness Section. He was the RAF's first jet fatality.
ww2dbaseAs the month of Aug 1944 entered its second half the number of bombs launched seemed to be constant, most now were being intercepted before getting to the London area. On 16 Aug Hythe anti-aircraft batteries brought down over 30 while Folkestone accounted for 17. One of the gunners recalled:
ww2dbaseYet there were still serious incidents, during the morning of 16 Aug a bomb, killed 17 in the High Street Walthamstow, east London and another, the seventh within a small area, struck Grove Street Dockyard killing seven. No 3 Squadron's pilot Flight Sergeant R. W. Cole caught up with a bomb and hit it, sending it spinning downwards only to see it fall on RAF West Malling below him. Luckily no injuries were caused by the blast but the station did not have many windows left intact. Although the method of killing the bombs by tipping the wing tips had been somewhat frowned upon by the Air Ministry some pilots, on using al their ammunition and given the chance to do the manoeuvre still attempted it. Flight Lieutenant John Malloy of 274 Squadron flying his Tempest aircraft saw a Diver get through the anti-aircraft fire west of Dover. He chased it over Rainham, opening fire but seeing no strikes, he closed in and tipped it neatly over and it sped downwards and blew up on the railway line out side the village. Another bomb landed not far away from this site and destroyed a row of cottages, the people had left them earlier to investigate the first explosion which may well have saved their lives.
ww2dbaseThe Poles of 315 Squadron, back after their spell of raiding across the English Channel were back to running up the unit's score card to the rear of the guns at Dymchurch and Hythe. The raid (Rodeo385) over Le Touquet had clashed with a large flight of enemy Fw 190 aircraft. The squadron shot down 16 of the German aircraft in what became the biggest number of enemy aircraft shot down by a single RAF squadron, in a single mission, in the whole of WWII.
ww2dbaseYet all through that third week of August the death toll in the London boroughs mounted; 51 fatalities on the 17th and a somewhat miraculous escape for many when a bomb exploded under the railway bridge at Newington in Kent. The bridge was completely blown apart right in front of the London to Margate Express. The locomotive and its tender jumped the gap but the first two carriages were sent down onto the roadway beneath. With 600 people on board the train only six were killed plus a Home Guard soldier who had taken shelter under the bridge. During an evening patrol Flight Officer R. Keating of 130 Squadron was struck by a Mustang aircraft that was climbing beneath him and although damaged, Keating managed to make an emergency landing, unhurt. The other pilot was not so fortunate, Flight Officer Feliks Migo?, a Pole from 306 Squadron, was killed in his crashing aircraft.
ww2dbaseThe three Polish Squadrons were all busy on the 19 Aug, 306 Squadron, operating behind the guns near Appledore brought down four during the early morning and another two during the evening patrols. 316 Squadron were over the English Channel near Dungeness. Flight Lieutenant Tadeusz Kwiakowski noticed, while bringing a Diver down near Captain Gris Nez, that some flying bombs were crashing into the sea after being launched. Warrant Officer Jósef Feruga and Flight Sergeant Zygfryd Narloch departed from RAF Friston on an afternoon anti-Diver patrol and succeeded in downing three, Narloch took the first ten miles north of Boulogne, two minutes later the second appeared and Feruga chased it towards Dungeness, finally shooting off a wing, and sending it spinning down. As the pilots linked up a few minutes later yet another Diver was seen, both pilots went after it and that one also crashed into the sea near the Dungeness beaches. Feruga, upon landing and refuelling decided to go up again and scored his third kill of the day.
ww2dbase306 returned to its tactical role over the continent in mid-Aug although sporadic V-1 patrols were flown. By 21 Sep the mission over France was completed, pilots compensated themselves for the lack of opposition in the air by attacking the enemy on the ground on every occasion.
ww2dbaseThe 19 Aug proved to be the best so far for the pilots of 616 Squadron, the Meteor jet pilots brought down four over the countryside near Ashford. Flight Sergeant Brian Cartmel came close to making the score five but the lighting on the gunsight failed after he opened fire, the damaged bomb was then finished off by a Tempest operating in the same area. 129 Squadron also on patrol in the area suffered the loss of one of their pilots; Plt Off John Bilodeau RCAF was seen to spin out of control after entering cloud.
ww2dbaseThe 24 Aug saw the liberation of Paris and the following days saw the British and Canadian troops move rapidly on the Pas-de-Calais area causing units of the Flakregiment 155(W) to withdraw after destroying the launching ramps. New ski-ramps had been prepared for them at sites in the Netherlands, but until they became operational on the new sites and received longer range bombs London was out of range from land launched bombs for a while. The day saw a Diver impact at East Barnet, north-east London it killed 33 people and injured another 212. Another bomb fell there the next day only 100 yards from the first, however it blew up in the centre of the sports field and caused no injuries but further damaged houses damaged earlier. The village church at Stradishall in Suffolk was badly damaged when a Diver glided down over the nearby RAF Station and impacted on the edge of the graveyard. All the medieval stained-glass windows were destroyed and the walls and mullions damaged, luckily only three people who were nearby were injured.
ww2dbaseAs Aug 1944 ended the efforts of the fighter squadrons and the anti-aircraft batteries together with the ever-enlarging balloon areas, brought a feeling that perhaps the worst of the campaign was drawing to a close. The Allies armies were now pushing through France and transportation to the launch sites were becoming more almost impossible during daylight hours. A woman living in Clapham, south London, wrote in her diary for 25 Aug: "No raid all day and a quiet night. Couldn't believe it." A thirteen-year old boy, staying with his grandfather and who had been watching the daily battles around the town of Rye also kept a diary:
29 August: Only 1 brought down in the night.
30 August: No bombs.
ww2dbaseOn 28 Aug, it was reported that only seven Divers out of a total of 97 launched, had got through the defences. As if to make a final statement, several waves of V-1 flying bombs were sent across the Channel on the 29 Aug. Almost all of them failed to reach London but the anti-aircraft gunners increased their ever-mounting tally of kills. Two of the bombs brought down that day contained German propaganda leaflets. 486 Squadron RNZAF finished the month with their final kill and the Unit's 241st. The good record was somewhat marred by the loss of three of their pilots killed and others badly injured. The 4th USSAF bomber Squadron got their only V-1 kill of the campaign when, returning from a raid in his B-24 named "Dynamite 'N- Dodo", a flying bomb was sighted and shot down by one of the gunners, Sergeant George W. Baldwin. The last V-1 to be dispatched from France was launched on 1 Sep.
ww2dbase"In many respects the fighters had a stiff task."
Air Chief Marshall Rodrick Hill, Air operationsin connection with the German Flying-bomb and Rocket offensive, 1944-45, 1948.
ww2dbaseThe people in London were war weary and London seemed a strange place with a large proportion of the population having evacuated. On 5 Sep 1944 the Air Ministry sent Air Marshall Hill a letter of warm congratulations on a very notable victory. Winston Churchill, who was in Italy sent a similar message to General Frederick Pile saying that the guns had achieved "all that was asked of them". A rumour started to sweep through the capital that Germany had capitulated. Although soon proved false there was now a growing feeling of optimism and cheerful confidence. One voice of warning was made in the ARP News publication saying that the robot bombs may continue by way of more air-launchings and that other Cities and areas may be soon under attack. And that was how it was going to be, the fighter squadrons would now become Heinkel hunters.
ww2dbaseMeanwhile, another threat had arrived; on 8 Sep at 1848 hours the first V-2 rocket fell from the sky at supersonic speed to explode in the borough of Chiswick in west London. The V-2 rocket assault would see a total of 1,115 fall on England, 517 fell on London, killing 2,754 people, 6,523 would be injured. The assault lasted for seven months and the last to fall on London did so on 25 Mar 1945, this rocket killed 127 people and wounded 423.
ww2dbaseAs the launch sites were overrun, the Luftwaffe re-organised its bombers; there were Stafflen based along the German/Danish border. III/KG3 continued to spearhead the launching operations, drawing crews from other Gruppen as and when required. Fourteen Heinkel aircraft took off from Varelbusch on 16 Sep with one crashing on take-off, killing the crew. They launched their bombs just before dawn, three of these were shot down into the sea by Royal Naval gunners and a Mosquito from 96 Squadron flown by Flight Lieutenant Ian Dobie, the American Flight Officer Bud Miller USAAF of 01 squadron killed another two, one exploding near RAF Castle Camps and the other blowing up in mid-air over Bradwell Bay. Sir Frederick Pile, in charge of the anti-aircraft defences remarked of the renewed assault:
ww2dbaseHeinkel aircraft flew over the North Sea on an almost nightly schedule from the 17 Sep 1944 onwards, a Mosquito aircraft was lost on 20 Sep, but Heinkel aircraft were being brought down, one such was 20 year-old Leutnant Helmut Denig's aircraft, operating from Handorf; his Heinkel aircraft exploded, damaging the Canadian Warrant Officer Len Fitchett's Mosquito aircraft forcing him to make a forced landing. The onset of the autumnal weather was now making night operations difficult; Flight Lieutenant Gordon "Snowy" Bonham DFC was killed when his Tempest aircraft crashed in the rain at Spitfield Farm in Essex, the New Zealander had flown against the Japanese and had five V-1 kills to his credit. There was no pattern as to where the air-launched bombs would fall, there had been explosions in Cambridge, Hertfordshire, Suffolk and Essex. Squadron Leader Miroslav Luskin, the commanding officer of the Czech 312 Squadron wrote:
ww2dbaseThe last days of Sep 1944 saw the number of air launched bombs drop; most of them that were launched seemed to head towards East Anglia. Once again, the diarist at the 100th BG UAASF at Thorpe Abbots in Norfolk was making entries:
ww2dbaseThat same day the US 8th Air Force was carrying out a 750 heavy bomber raids on airfields at Bielfeld, Hamm, Munster and Handorf. At Handorf 7/KG3's Staffelkapitan and Training Officer, Hauptmann Heinz Grünswald was killed. Records show that up till then a total of 177 V-1 flying bombs was launched under his command. The out put of V-1 flying bombs dropped considerably as new crews were trained and the servicing of aircraft was slow due to the lack of parts and the transport systems being constantly attacked. In England the Royal Navy's NFIU received the go ahead to participate in anti-Diver operations using Colishall in Norfolk to hold trials of the Firefly NFI against the bomb carrying Heinkel aircraft. Some units were now released from the patrols after Mosquitos that were flying "Heinkel Hunts" over the North Sea and the Netherlands were reporting very little action.
ww2dbaseThat situation changed on the 5 Oct 1944 when another "Mini Blitz" was instigated and a total of 62 V-1 flying bombs were launched by the enemy operating out of Varrelbusch. The attacks tailed off after 11 Oct leaving 36 people dead in the south London area. The Divisional Fire Officer at Wanstead where eight were killed. Recalled:
ww2dbaseThe sporadic V-1 flying bombs continued to arrive throughout the month of Oct 1944 and despite all the defences some continued to cause casualties. Naval frigate HMS Caicos fitted out as a floating radar station and control centre was now employed for duties in the North Sea to help detect the launching aircraft. The records show that a total of 282 V-1 flying bombs had been sent over in Oct.
ww2dbaseNov and Dec 1944 followed the same pattern as Oct with sorties flying out from the Dutch and German bases to launch the bombs but as the days went by the Luftwaffe were losing more planes to fighters and accidents. One such sortie flown on 18 Dec 1944 had seven out of 28 crews abort, two with engine failures were lost and another three bombs fell off the aircraft into the sea. Off the bombs launched not one reached land, all being brought down by fighters and anti-aircraft fire. Christmas Eve saw the last final effort by the Luftwaffe with 50 Heinkel aircraft from Stab I and III/KG53 setting out from various bases for a surprise attack on Manchester. Seven of the aircraft aborted or lost their bombs into the sea. In all 30 bombs reached the target area with 15 falling within Manchester. The first explosion was at Chorley at 0530 hours which only destroyed a chicken farm, the next however, killed 32 people when it destroyed a row of cottages in Oldham. Other explosions were scattered across the countryside. In total 42 people lost their lives and over 100 seriously injured, no military targets were hit. 103 Home Guard Battery in Alexandra Park in Manchester had recently been stood down, since any threat of enemy raids had passed. A member of the battery, Mr. Baskerville wrote in his diary:
ww2dbaseThe New Year saw hope growing in England that the end of the war would soon arrive, The V-1 flying bombs were now a rarity although the threat of the V-2 rockets of which there was no defence, was still a serious matter.
ww2dbaseDuring Jan 1945 a few sorties were launched, but a combination of bad weather, losses to the Operation Vapour aircraft saw only a few in the first week and the 14 Jan 1945 saw KG53's last sortie and the Unit was then disbanded; there was simply no fuel available to fly the aircraft. Most aircraft were destroyed by the Luftwaffe and at the war's end the airfields were in British hands. Divers continued to be launched through to the end of Mar 1945, the final ones crossing the coast on 29 Mar 1945. The honour of shooting down the very last fell to Royal Marine anti-aircraft gunners on the gun platform 12 miles off Felixstowe (Churchill Fort), the flying bomb crashed off Orfordness at 1243 hours on 30 Mar 1945.
ww2dbaseA total of 2,419 V-1 flying bombs had fallen on the London boroughs, killing 5,582 people including 207 service personnel. Croydon was the worst hit with no fewer than 142 incidents being recorded, while 19 more fell on the edge of the town. 211 residents had been killed, 697 seriously wounded and 1,277 having to have treatment. The borough of Wandsworth was a close second with 126 strikes, followed by Lewisham with 117. The county of Kent received 1,444 (152 fatalities, 1,716 injured). Sussex 886 (over 40 killed), Essex412 (over 60 killed). 295 came down in Surrey and many fell harmlessly into the sea or in rural areas including 93 in Suffolk and Norfolk. The final toll from the missiles was reckoned to be 6,184 killed and 17,981 seriously injured. In his subsequent dispatch Air Marshall Hill stated that a total of 3,957 bombs - out of the 9,251 plotted and reported (10,500 were actually fired) - were shot down by the fighters; 1,878 plus one shared by the guns; and 231 plus two shared by the balloons. As with most statistics, the AOC's are at variance with those calculated by other official sources, which state that the RAF destroyed 1,979 although some suggest an even higher figure. Approximately 40 were shot down bu USAAF pilots and these do not appear to be included in official figures.On 29 July 2007, some 62 years after the last Diver fell on England, the following appeared in a British Newspaper:
BRIAN CULL with BRUCE LANDER, Diver! Diver! Diver!, Grub Street, London, 2008.
BOB OGLEY, The battle of the Flying Bomb, Froglet Press, 1994.
CHRISTY CAMPBELL, Target London, Abacus , 2013.
D. G. COLLYER, Buzz Bomb Diary, Kent Aviation Historical Research Society, 1994.
GRAHAM A. THOMAS, Terror in the Sky: The Battle Against the Flying Bombs, Pen & Sword Books Ltd, 2008.
JOHN BENNETT, Fighter Nights, Banner Books, 1995.
NORMAN LONGMATE, The Doodlebugs, Arrow Books, 1986.
PETER HAINING, The Flying Bomb War, Robson Books, 2002.
ROY M. STANLEY, V-Weapons Hunt: Defeating German Secret Weapons, Barnsley: Pen and Sword, 2010.
Flying Bombs and Rockets; Peter Henden.
Twelve O'Clock High: Ray Horta.
RAF Commands; Ross McNeill.
V-Weapons Campaign Interactive Map
V-Weapons Campaign Timeline
|25 May 1943||In a conference in Berlin, Germany, Albert Speer recommended that the funding for military research be focused on the V-2 rocket program rather than being spread around a wide range of projects that included jets, heat-seeking missiles, sound-seeking torpedoes, and others. Ultimately this recommendation would be ignored.|
|26 May 1943||At Peenemünde, Germany, before Hermann Göring, Erhard Milch, and other top German leaders, an A-4 rocket and a flying bomb were tested. The A-4 rocket flew perfectly, while the flying bomb crashed only after a mile or two of flight.|
|22 Jun 1943||60 British Lancaster bombers attacked factories at Friedrichshafen in southern Germany. Planners of the attack though they were conducting a strike on a factory producing radar parts, but in actuality it was manufacturing parts for V-2 rockets.|
|7 Jul 1943||At the Wolfsschanze headquarters in Rastenburg, Germany, Werhner von Braun and Walter Dornberger presented Adolf Hitler a film of a V-2 rocket launch.|
|26 Aug 1943||Albert Speer called a meeting with Hans Kammler, Walter Dornberger, Gerhard Degenkolb, and Karl Otto Saur to negotiate the move of V-2 (A-4) rocket main production from Peenemünde Army Research Center on the Baltic Sea coast to an underground factory in the Harz mountains deeper inland.|
|7 Sep 1943||RAF aircraft bombed V-1 flying bomb launch sites on the French coast.|
|30 Dec 1943||10 Lancaster bombers of 617 Squadron RAF and 6 Mosquito aircraft attacked a German V-1 flying bomb launch site but failed to destroy it.|
|12 Mar 1944||An errant V-1 flying bomb landed in Swedish territory.|
|13 Jun 1944||An A4 rocket fired from Peenemünde to test radio-control gear for an anti-aircraft rocket veered off course and landed 200 miles away in neutral Sweden. Considerable amounts of the rocket were salvaged by the Swedish authorities and later passed on to the British.|
|13 Jun 1944||The first ten V-1 flying bombs were launched from France between 0330 and 1400 hours. Two blew up shortly after take off, two crashed into the English Channel, two landed and exploded in rural areas and another in a garden destroying the house and greenhouses. Only one reached the target, London, England, United Kingdom. It exploded at Bethnal Green on the railway bridge across Grove Road, killing six people, the first of 6,200 such fatalities that would be caused in the coming months.|
|16 Jun 1944||Admiral George Thompson, the British Chief Press Censor, ordered that the press should refuse to report the locations of any V-1 incidents, which were to be kept deliberately unspecific. In addition no mention was to be made regarding any enemy plane (either manned or unmanned) which was shot down over England, Air raid warnings over London were also not to be reported, and obituary notices about civilian deaths caused by German bombing were to be limited to no more than three per postal district.|
|16 Jun 1944||For two days after the first V-1 flying bomb exploded in London, none were fired, leading the defence and intelligence committees in the UK to believe that those of the 13 August 1944 had been rangefinders and experiments. To-day this idea was shattered by 224 being fired from their launch sites across the British Channel. The Germans did still have guidance and reliability problems but over twenty-two exploded in South London. Due to the nature of the bomb gliding down the blast damage was greater than bombs dropped at altitude by bombers. In Mayplace Avenue, Crayford, nine people were killed and many seriously injured and in Beckenham seven bombs hit within a couple of hours killing over ten, the worst incident at Maple Grove. In all the Borough had over 200 houses badly damaged, together with gas mains and electricity supplies cut. Other V-1 flying bombs exploded throughout the south-eastern counties. Some of the Germans called it "Day of Vengeance".|
|17 Jun 1944||Eighteen Lancaster bombers from British No. 617 Squadron attacked German V-1 launch sites on the coast of the English Channel.|
|18 Jun 1944||A V-1 flying bomb struck the Guards Chapel across from Buckingham Palace in London, England, United Kingdom during worship services, killing 119.|
|18 Jun 1944||Winston Churchill impressed on Dwight Eisenhower that there must be no change of plans as a result of the V-1 attacks; London and the South-east would endure the bombardment as long as was necessary.|
|20 Jun 1944||The airfield at Biggin Hill, south-east London, England, United Kingdom had now become the centre for the defence of South London. 700 balloon personnel including 170 WAAFs were stationed there. Early in the morning one of the recently raised balloons brought down a V-1 flying bomb that exploded in an orchard. Tempest V aircraft pilots from 3 Squadron at RAF Newchurch in Kent brought down 9 bombs and the New Zealand pilots of 486 squadron who shared the airfield brought down a further 3. An American pilot 1st Lieutenant D. W. Johnston of 356th Fighter Squadron of 358th Fighter Group USSAF flying a P-47 aircraft brought down one over the British Channel; he was returning to his base at High Halden, Kent from a fighter/bomber raid against rail traffic in occupied France.|
|21 Jun 1944||The southern boroughs of London, England, United Kingdom suffered multiple V-1 flying bomb strikes during the day. The bombs started to arrive at 0525 hours when one exploded in Bexley close to the river Thames; it killed four people and wrecked 7 houses. Bombs followed in Addington Road, West Wickham where 65 houses were damaged and Queens Road in Beckenham where 3 were killed. Pilot Officer N. P. Gibbs of 41 Squadron at RAF West Malling shot down his second in two days over Beachy Head on the Channel coast.|
|22 Jun 1944||V-1 flying bombs continued to fall on London, England, United Kingdom. A V-1 bomb killed 11 residents of Clapham in Stockwell Park Road, two hours later another impacted nearby killing one of the emergency workers. The worst incident was in Peckham killing 23 of the women working in an under garment factory in Nunhill Lane. 3 Squadron brought down another 9 bombs, one pilot was very upset when the bomb he shot down hit a cottage and killed the elderly couple living there. The New Zealanders of 486 Squadron were getting the hang of having to dive from high to get enough speed to catch up with the V-1 bombs; they brought down 9 in the sky above Hastings, Sussex.|
|23 Jun 1944||In Germany, Joseph Goebbels, German propaganda chief, went on radio in Germany to say that the continuous V-1 bombs landing in London was like a nagging toothache to the British. "It will continue day and night and drive them mad."|
|23 Jun 1944||Over southern England, United Kingdom, No. 3 Squadron RAF added a further 15 "kills" to their tally and 91 Squadron at ALG (Advance Landing Ground) Deanland accounted for a further 11. Flight Officer Ken Collier RAAF flying a Spitfire XIV aircraft became the first pilot to bring down a V-1 bomb by tipping it over using his wingtip. Pilots of the fighter Squadrons were now demanding that areas of defence be made as regards anti-aircraft batteries as some pilots had experienced friendly fire.|
|24 Jun 1944||During the morning, a V-1 flying bomb, shot down by a fighter, crashed on the Newlands Military Camp at Charing, near Ashford, Kent, England, United Kingdom. Forty-seven men were killed and twenty-eight seriously injured.|
|24 Jun 1944||The British government issued a statement saying 756 people had died and 2,697 badly injured since the V-1 flying bomb assault started.|
|25 Jun 1944||A V-1 bomb struck the eastern side of Victoria Station, London, England, United Kingdom as the train crews were arriving in the early morning; 17 were killed, including six men on fire watch. A further 8 Londoners were killed when V-1 bombs landed in Deptford and 7 fatalities occurred in Kepler Road, Clapham. A pub, The Freemason's Arms, and 50 houses were badly damaged in Camberwell. Nine V-1 bombs were shot down by 3 Squadron RAF and 10 by 486 Squadron (RNZAF). During the evening the flying bombs were aimed at Southampton, most landed on or around the Isle of Wight.|
|25 Jun 1944||US Naval Armed Guard Service vessel James B. Weaver had shot down two V-1 flying bombs off the French Normandie coast.|
|26 Jun 1944||The first V-1 bomb to drop on London, England, United Kingdom on this day hit Elfin Road in Camberwell at 0130 hours, killing three and demolishing 18 houses. The US Naval Armed Guard Service vessel William A. Jones brought down a bomb whilst on patrol off the French Normandie coast. One US Naval Officer said "We never could get used to those buzz bomb attacks. Kinda like an artillery shell: as long as you can hear them you know that you are OK. When the noise of the buzz bomb stopped you had an instant cure for haemorrhoids." The Mosquito XIII night fighters of 96 Squadron from RAF Ford were getting used to the method of attacking the bombs and brought down six between 0030 and 0334 hours.|
|27 Jun 1944||53 V-1 flying bombs were launched against the ports of Southampton and Portsmouth in southern Britain but had little effect and the order was rescinded the next day. One of the first V-1 bombs that failed to explode came down at a farm outside Newington providing information on its construction and propulsion. The worst impact of the day was at Gauden Road in Clapham, south London when at a few minutes into the day 11 people, asleep in their houses were killed.|
|28 Jun 1944||In Britain, damage to South London was severe due to V-1 bombs hitting four of the main railway stations and lines, parts of the Underground railway were also closed due to the damage. The Chiefs of Staff were forced to meet to discuss options to them. One idea raised was to guarantee the immunity of specified German cities from bombing if the bombardment was stopped. Another was to consider using napalm or poison gas against the launch sites. General Dwight Eisenhower promptly vetoed the ideas as did Chief of Imperial General Staff General Sir Alan Brooke.|
|29 Jun 1944||The borough of Penge in south-east London, England, United Kingdom received four V-1 flying bombs or "Divers" as they were now being called by the military. The first three explosions did considerable damage to houses but caused no casualties, the fourth however, fell behind an anti-aircraft gun site and killed a soldier and destroyed the Nissen huts where Z rockets were going to be stored. The afternoon and evening saw over seven explosions causing loss of life in the south London area. The Folkestone and Hythe anti-aircraft batteries brought down eight into the sea during the day.|
|30 Jun 1944||Weald House in Edenbridge, Kent, England, United Kingdom was being used by London County Council as a home for evacuated mothers and babies. In the early morning a V-1 was deflected by a tree and directly hit the house; twenty-two babies were killed outright or died in hospital, eight staff also died. The mothers at the rear of the building survived.|
|1 Jul 1944||V-1 flying bombs destroyed 60 houses and killed three residents in Brixton, south London, England, United Kingdom. Another 10 fatalities were caused during the morning in Gibbs Square, Upper Norwood and Lunham Road, Gypsy Hill, both also in London. In the afternoon the Colindale Hospital in Hendon was hit resulting in 5 airmen, 4 WAAFs and a civilian nurse being killed. The death toll rose in the afternoon with hits on the Goat public house, Bermondsey (18 killed) and over 250 seriously injured when the Corporation Refuse Destructor chimney was brought down on houses. A total of 61 people in South London perished during the day.|
|2 Jul 1944||The V-1 flying bomb assault on London, England and the south-eastern counties of the United Kingdom continued during the early hours with 30 deaths and much damaged property. The bombs continued to arrive throughout the morning, one bomb hitting a US Army camp. Sergeant Ed Bearefoot was trapped for over 3 days beneath the rubble, his two friends who had been in the room with him died shortly after the blast. Allied fighter aircraft were now getting to know how to dive onto the V-1 flying bombs in order to shoot them down. The speed of the bomb was faster than all but the latest Spitfire and Tempest fighters and the pilots had to dive from height in order to gain speed and get their shots in. New aircraft were being brought to the area and many anti-aircraft guns were taken to the coastal areas where the bombs passed overhead.|
|3 Jul 1944||64 US Army servicemen and 10 civilians were killed in their living quarters when, at 0747 hours, a V-1 bomb hit the building at Turk's Row in Chelsea, London, England, United Kingdom. A further 54 soldiers were seriously injured. Another V-1 bomb exploded in Sandling Park in East Kent, the bomb had been brought down by a fighter and exploded in the lines of the Canadian 6 Tank Regiment, six soldiers were wounded.|
|3 Jul 1944||Remy van Lierde, a Belgian pilot with No. 3 Squadron RAF, shot down a V-1 flying bomb over Beachy Head, East Sussex, England on the south coast of Britain. He would go on to shoot down 44 in total.|
|4 Jul 1944||American servicemen were again killed, and six women of US Army Women's Army Corps were wounded, by a V-1 flying bomb hitting their accommodation in Bexley, south-east London, England, United Kingdom.|
|4 Jul 1944||No. 3 Squadron RAF brought down 14 V-1 flying bombs over the coastal town of Hastings in southern England, United Kingdom; Belgian pilot Flight Lieutenant Remy Van Lierde, flying his Tempest V fighter (JN862/JF-Z), accounting for four in his two patrols. No. 486 Squadron RNZAF, also flying Tempest V fighters, brought down a further 14 over Tonbridge and the Kent coast.|
|5 Jul 1944||22 Heinkel bombers of German III/KG3 flew sorties during the night and launched V-1 flying bombs. The bomb all fell in the south London area in Britain, causing considerable damage to property and killing over fifteen residents. The British were seeing that more damage was caused by these flying bombs than by the bombs dropped by bombers. This was due to the fact that they often glided down in shallow dives and blew up on the ground, the blast of 1,870 pounds of Amatol or Trialen often destroyed over 20 houses and took the roofs off many more.|
|5 Jul 1944||Belgian pilot Flight Lieutenant Remy Van Lierde of No. 3 Squadron RAF, flying his Tempest V aircraft (JN862/JF-Z), shot down five V-1 flying bombs in two sorties.|
|6 Jul 1944||The Heinkel aircraft of German III/KG3 launched 8 V-1 flying bombs into England, United Kingdom during the night. This squadron lost two planes during take off from their base at Rosi?res, France when they collided on the runway, one crew member was killed. 418 Squadron RAF, flying Mosquito VI aircraft, brought down 12 flying bombs most of them over the cliffs of Beachy Head on the East Sussex coast, while further south after dark, 605 Squadron, flying the Mosquito VI night fighters, shot down 7. Night fighter pilots asked that the aircraft be fitted with dark glass visors as the explosion of the V-1 bomb in the air in front of the attacking aircraft was temporally blinding the pilot and navigator.|
|7 Jul 1944||German III/KG3 mounted a V-1 flying bomb assault on England, United Kingdom from their base in Rosières, France. Two of the Heinkel He.111 bombers collided on the runway during take off resulting in the death of one of the air crew. The night fighter Mosquito aircraft of 418 Squadron (RCAF) shot down 13 of the bombs mostly over the English Channel. One of the bombs that got through landed in Southampton, causing little damage. No. 91 Squadron RAF flying from their base at RAF Deanland shot down 12 flying bombs whilst No. 3 Squadron's Tempest V fighters brought down another.|
|8 Jul 1944||A V-1 bomb landed and exploded on Greenwich Police Station in London, England, United Kingdom; several people were trapped in the wreckage of the West London station, no deaths occurred. However, an early arriving bomb killed 6 people in Oakdale Road, Streatham, south west London. Polish pilot, Flying Officer Tadeusz Karnkowski, 316 (Polish) Squadron, after shooting down two V-1 bombs tried to tip over a third with his wing tips, the manoeuvre was successful but also damaged his Spitfire fighter and he was forced to crash land on the runway at RAF West Malling.|
|9 Jul 1944||The South Metropolitan Gas Company's gasholder in Kennington, south-east London, England, United Kingdom received a direct hit from a V-1 flying bomb causing a huge explosion and a large amount of damage to local houses.|
|10 Jul 1944||30 sorties were made by the Heinkel bombers of III/KG3 carrying V-1 flying bombs against Britain. A British naval anti-aircraft battery brought down one of the aircraft. The falling V-1 bombs caused deaths in the southern London boroughs of Battersea and Clapham where six people were killed in the Underground Station. The Royal navy Fleet Air Arm Pilot Sub Lieutenant D. P. Davies, whilst returning from an anti-shipping patrol in his Avenger Mk. 1 aircraft, saw a V-1 bomb and his TAG L/Airman Fred Shirmer brought it down at 700 yards, only firing 20 rounds; Shirmer received a mention in dispatches.|
|11 Jul 1944||London, England, United Kingdom received many V-1 bombs and over 38 deaths were reported. The worst incident, killing 14, was at Annerley Road in Crystal Palace, south-east London. At Public House, The Paxon's Arms was hit close by in Clapham, 11 people in the pub were killed. At Deptford, south-east London, 11 dock workers were killed, with cranes and workshops destroyed.|
|12 Jul 1944||A V-1 bomb hit "Beechmont House" in Sevenoaks, Kent in southern England, United Kingdom. The house was used as a billet for ATS girls that maintained army vehicles, fortunately most of the girls had left for work, nevertheless two girls were killed and 44 injured. The borough of Beckenham received two fatal hits from the flying bombs; the borough would soon become one of the hardest hit areas in South London.|
|13 Jul 1944||In the United Kingdom, General Frederick Pile and Air Marshal Roderic Hill held a meeting to discuss the best way for the British Royal Air Force and the anti-aircraft batteries to deal with incoming V-1 bombs. Two distinct areas for fighters were created, one over the sea in front of the guns and the other inland behind them. There were many fatal V-1 bomb impacts over south London during the day; the worse was when the Tiger's Head Inn in Lewisham was hit killing 16 and injuring 40. Five members of a family were killed in the Park Hotel in Bromley, they were due to be evacuated that afternoon.|
|14 Jul 1944||Heinkel aircraft of III/KG3 flew 23 sorties to launch V-1 bombs against Southampton, England, United Kingdom during the night. Most missed the City or were shot down but night fighters. However, one came down on Newcomen Road in Portsmouth killing 15 and another killed all members of a family that had fled London and were staying with friends in the small village of Goodworth Clatford.|
|15 Jul 1944||7 people were killed outside London Bridge railway station in London, England, United Kingdom by a V-1 bomb that also demolished a block of apartments. First Lieutenant Donald M. Raine of 412th Fighter Squadron of USAAF 373rd Fighter Group, flying his P-47 fighter, brought down the first of his squadron's V-1 bombs over the village of Kingsnorth in Kent. Pilots were becoming nervous about the bombs they shot down hitting houses and civilians. The Air Ministry put the defence of London as a priority.|
|16 Jul 1944||Three V-1 flying bombs impacted in quick succession in Brixton, London, England, United Kingdom, hitting Ramsey Road (5 killed), Brixton Road (2 killed) and at Lubbock Street in nearby Battersea (16 killed). The Church of St John in Bermondsey was hit; this church had been badly damaged during the Blitz of 1940 and repairs had been completed. The church was used as an emergency aid station; two workers were killed when the roof collapsed.|
|17 Jul 1944||A major incident was declared when at 0530 hours a V-1 bomb blew up in Suffield Road, Walworth, south-east London, England, United Kingdom; 17 residents were killed, 40 houses demolished and 150 damaged by the blast. Many houses were damaged beyond repair to the south west in Brixton when another V-1 bomb landed in the middle of Brassey Square. The new defence system announced earlier on in the week came into effect at dawn, it was welcomed by the fight pilots who had been troubled by friendly fire whilst diving on the bombs. 41 Squadron at RAF Lympne lost two of its pilots in a collision above the airfield.|
|18 Jul 1944||Heinkel aircraft of III/KG3 flew 14 sorties to launch V-1 flying bombs against London, England, United Kingdom; all aircraft returned safely. Meanwhile, another German squadron was working up to operational level at Gilze-Rijen. The borough of Beckenham in London was the scene of the worst bomb incident of the day when the bus station was hit; 18 were killed including 2 soldiers, the petrol supply tanks at the depot exploded adding to more damage and injuries to firemen.|
|19 Jul 1944||Over 45 V-1 flying bombs were shot down by fighters from the RAF squadrons situated in the Counties of Kent and Sussex in Britain, whilst more were shot down into the sea by coastal anti-aircraft batteries. Two Polish Squadrons (306 and 315) accounted for 14 of them, with Flight Sergeant J. Zaworski PAF (306 Squadron) scoring 3 kills within 2 patrols. However more damage was caused by bombs getting through the defences; Wandsworth in south west London and Peckham in the south east had bombs causing fatalities and over 50 houses were condemned after damage assessment.|
|20 Jul 1944||A farmer was surprised when a V-1 bomb impacted in woodland by his house in Gipping, Suffolk, England, United Kingdom. It was thought that the automatic pilot system had failed to make the bomb go so far off course.|
|21 Jul 1944||7 people were killed at 0654 hours when a V-1 flying bomb struck Blenheim Close, Penge, south-east London, England, United Kingdom; over 150 houses were badly damaged. Injured staff at the ice cream factory in Lambeth meant that the factory was unable to supply ice to hospitals. Another Mosquito aircraft was lost when 248 Squadron intercepted enemy aircraft whilst hunting V-1 flying bombs, three Dornier bombers were shot down but the aircraft of Flight Sergeant Walter Scott and his observer Flight Sergeant John Blackburn was hit by return fire and crashed into the sea.|
|22 Jul 1944||Pilot Officer Ken Foskett became a local hero after bringing down a V-1 flying bomb onto the railway lines near Ashford in Kent, England, United Kingdom. Seeing a train approaching the damaged track at speed, Fosket made low passes over the locomotive, lowering his wheels and dipping his wings. The engineers in the engine got the message and stopped the train.|
|23 Jul 1944||Tempest V fighters of No. 3 Squadron RAF based at RAF Newchurch in Kent, England, United Kingdom destroyed 13 V-1 flying bombs over the south eastern counties. At the same time further to the south the two Polish Squadrons were busy accounting for 8 more. One, shot down by Kasimierz Siwek PAF (315 Squadron) landed on the perimeter of RAF Kingsnorth, a prototype Advanced Landing Ground, narrowly missing aircraft parked there.|
|24 Jul 1944||In the early morning five aircraft-launched German V-1 flying bombs impacted on London, England, United Kingdom, the most serious being in Canterbury Terrace in the borough of Kilburn at 0440 hours, killing 16 residents. III KG/3 had launched 11 in total; the other six blew up in the counties of Essex and Hertfordshire. The Tempest V fighters of the Fighter Interception Unit (FIU) of the RAF brought down seven bombs after dark two of which fell onto the military camp at Offham in Mereworth Woods and Gravelly Bottom; No service personnel were hurt but damage to vehicles and offices was severe.|
|25 Jul 1944||An unarmed RAF Dakota aircraft took off from Italy for Zaborów, Poland, where it would pick up V-2 rocket parts captured by Polish partisan fighters.|
|25 Jul 1944||Sorties were flown by aircraft of III KG/3 again during the night, in all 18 aircraft took off to launch V-1 flying bombs on England, United Kingdom. One aircraft, Heinkel He 111 5K+GT of 9 Staffel flown by Unteroffizier Günter Rohne, hit a high communication mast near Eindhoven in the Netherlands and blew up; there were no survivors. London and the counties of Hertfordshire and Essex were again hit but only light casualties were reported. 96 Squadron RAF lost a Mosquito XIII aircraft and the crew when the aircraft failed to return to RAF Ford. It was thought that the plane was hit by friendly fire when returning from the anti-diver patrol.|
|26 Jul 1944||At dusk, Flight Lieutenant Remy van Lierde, a Belgian pilot with 3 Squadron RAF, shot down two V-1 flying bombs and shared a third over the Bexhill area on the coast of Sussex County in southern England, United Kingdom. Van Lierde would go on to shoot down 35 bombs during the V-1 assault. He flew a Tempest V fighter and had the Belgian national colours painted on the spinner tip.|
|26 Jul 1944||Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler made a speech to the Luftwaffe pilots of III KG/3 in which he exaggerated the damage done by the V-1 flying bombs that they were launching to London, England, United Kingdom and other targets. He finished his speech by saying that the German High Command had clear evidence of a weaking the power of the belligerent British Nation.|
|27 Jul 1944||24 people were killed when a V-1 flying bomb fell onto Church Road in Beckenham, London, England, United Kingdom; it impacted by the road and graveyard by the St George's Church and caused major damage and unearthing graves. Others fell in Norwood elsewhere in London, killing 6 and bringing down houses. A stray flying bomb impacted near the town of Mosstofta in Sweden, causing little damage and no casualties. It was unclear where this bomb was launched from; it could have been from a training flight by III KG/3 or from the research area at Peenemünde, Germany.|
|27 Jul 1944||Meteor F.Mk I jet fighters of No. 616 Squadron based at Manston in Kent, England, United Kingdom performed their first V-1 intercept mission.|
|28 Jul 1944||One of the worst V-1 flying bomb incidents happened at 0935 hours when a bomb hit the crowded shopping centre in Lewisham, London, England, United Kingdom. It landed on the roof of a street level shelter outside a Marks & Spencer department store. It caused major damage to the store and the Woolworths next to it. Many were killed in the Woolworth's basement restaurant area and passing buses were ripped apart. 51 people were killed instantly and others in hospital later. The blast zone of this bomb stretched for 600 yards in all directions. The day was made worse when another 45 were killed in Kensington High Street in central London.|
|29 Jul 1944||In south London, England, United Kingdom, two surface air raid shelters were partly destroyed when a V-1 flying bomb impacted at the junction of Hollyoak and Dante Roads in Elephant and Castle; twenty houses were rendered uninhabitable. There were no casualties with this bomb, however another exploded nearby killing five and damaging almost 200 houses. Further south a V-1 flying bomb crashed and blew up near the town of Sevenoaks in western Kent after being shot down by a fighter, as often happened in the countryside, after the explosion schoolboys took parts for souvenirs.|
|30 Jul 1944||In southern England, United Kingdom, the North Kent village of Swanscombe had a V-1 flying bomb explode in Taunton Road. It killed 11 and badly wounded 22 and the blast resulted in the complete destruction of 60 cottages making 160 people homeless. Flight Sergeant Gedfrey Tate of 1 Squadron was lost when his Spitfire fighter LFIXh crashed into the sea after he went into a dive chasing a V-1 flying bomb.|
|31 Jul 1944||91 Squadron RAF lost a veteran pilot when Flying Officer Paddy Schade's Spitfire XIV fighter was hit by a Tempest fighter flown by Flight Sergeant Archie Wilson RNZAF of 486 Squadron when Wilson emerged from cloud whilst chasing a V-1 flying bomb. The wing of the Tempest fighter tore off the Spitfire fighter's cockpit; both pilots were killed. Flight Sergeant Stan Rudowski of 306 Squadron (Polish) RAF was vectored onto a V-1 flying bomb approaching the town of Rye, Kent in southern England, United Kingdom, two miles west of the coastal town he attacked from below, the flying bomb slowed, looped and exploded in the sea just off the beach.|
|1 Aug 1944||On completing an anti-diver patrol against V-1 flying bombs, Flight Lieutenant F. Wiza's Yellow Section of 306 Squadron (Polish) RAF received a warning that they were 10 miles off the English coast and were vectored into a "safe lane" away from anti-aircraft batteries; as the Mustang III fighters crossed the coast they found themselves under intense fire; fortunately no aircraft were hit. 96 Squadron lost a Mosquito aircraft and crew whilst the night fighter was landing in bad weather and visibility; Flight Officer Ray Ball and his navigator Flight Officer Fred Saunders were both killed as was Leading Aircraftman Charlie Allen on the ground.|
|2 Aug 1944||A V-1 flying bomb caused the deaths of 12 residents of Pendle Road in the borough of Streatham, South-west London, at 0510 hours, a second bomb impacted on Gypsy Road in Upper Norwood, killing 3, one of whom was an elderly lady awaiting evacuation from the area.|
|2 Aug 1944||In France, III/KG 100 sent out 9 Do 217M aircraft with V-1 flying bombs attached to attack railways and roads around Pontaubault in Normandie in an attempt to stall the Allied break out of the area. Mosquito fighter from 488 Squadron (RNZAF) intercepted the Germans, shooting down 2 before they had launched their bombs. The other Dornier bombers aborted the mission.|
|3 Aug 1944||RAF Hendon north of London, England, United Kingdom was hit by a V-1 flying bomb in the early hours; it demolished a barrack block and 5 accommodation huts where 5 airmen were killed and over 25 wounded. The area around Maidstone in Kent in southern England received V-1 flying bombs throughout the morning, one of them fell after snagging the wires of a barrage balloon; it killed 5 workmen on the railway and another 7 had to be hospitalized. First Lieutenant Jack Robinson USAAF of 416th Fighter-Bomber Group flying a P-47 aircraft shot down a V-1 flying bomb; this episode was watched by civilians on the ground near Ashford, Kent who cheered as the bomb veered away and exploded in woodland.|
|4 Aug 1944||During the early hours of the morning the Tempest aircraft of the Fighter Interception Unit based at RAF Manson in Kent, England, United Kingdom brought down 11 V-1 flying bombs. The bombs all fell in the area around East Sutton and Thurnham. A church was badly damaged, and houses lost their roof tiles but only 8 people were treated for injury from the explosions.|
|4 Aug 1944||The USAAF launched two "babies" against V-1 sites. Both missions ended in failure. One went out off control and into a spin; the crew baled out but the pilot was killed. The second made it across the English Channel, but was lost during the descent and crashed some distance short of the target.|
|5 Aug 1944||A V-1 flying bomb brought down by a Tempest aircraft landed in Malling Road, Snodland in north Kent, England, United Kingdom; the explosion brought down 10 houses in the village and killed 12 people in them, a further 16 were badly injured; two doctors, both badly injured whose surgery facility was within one of the houses, carried on treating the casualties. Another serious incident happened in East Dulwich in south-east London when the Co-Operative department store in Lordship Lane was hit; 23 people died and many injured; a Salvation Army headquarters was damaged where 29 people were seriously injured when the roof fell in.|
|6 Aug 1944||A V-1 flying bomb caused massive damage when it exploded in Carrington Road in Dartford, London, England, United Kingdom; 20 homes were wrecked and another 700 houses needed repair; ten people died and 20 hospitalized. Balloons brought down four flying bombs around the town of Sevenoaks in Kent, England; the success was a testament to the skill of the balloon crews in placing them at the correct height and in areas that did not threaten dwellings if the bombs were brought down.|
|6 Aug 1944||Anti-aircraft batteries along the southern British coast were in action throughout the day, bringing down V-1 flying bombs; the beaches along the coast at Folkestone and Hythe, Kent, England, United Kingdom were becoming littered with wreckage from the bombs. The fighter squadrons were busy too with the Polish 316 squadron bringing down 9, mostly behind the coastal anti-aircraft guns near Hastings, Sussex. Flight Sergeant Don MacKerras RAAF was killed when his Tempest V fighter spun into the ground whilst he was on patrol; he had attempted to tip a flying bomb over with his wing tip but collided with the missile, losing his wing.|
|7 Aug 1944||A V-1 flying bomb blew up in Underhill Road, East Dulwich in south east London, England, United Kingdom, 4 residents were killed. Three V-1 bombs, brought down by fighters, crashed into the outskirts of Ashford, Kent, England causing damage and one death. The fighter pilots were now taking efforts to avoid their targets impacting on built up areas but the problem remained of the bombs flying erratically once hit. 316 Squadron (Polish) brought down 8 flying bombs, following on from the 9 kills made the previous day. Warrant Officer Czeslaw Bartlomiejczyk shot down four in the space of five minutes when he got behind the V-1 flying bombs flying in single file over the English Channel in his Mustang III fighter. Flight Officer Henry "Dixie" Dean flying the new RAF jet fighter, the Gloster Meteor, brought down a V-1 flying bomb over the village of Rorbertsbridge, east Sussex. 616 squadron now had a dozen of the jet fighters and 33 pilots training with them.|
|8 Aug 1944||German SS Lieutenant General Hans Kammler was named the Special Commissioner for the A-4 rocket program.|
|8 Aug 1944||He 111 aircraft flying from their base in Rozières in France flew 23 sorties during the night of 7-8 Aug 1944. One of the Heinkel bombers was shot down by Flight Officer John Smith (604 Squadron); the bomber crashed near Achmer, Lower Saxony, Germany attempting to reach base; Smith also brought down a Do 217 bomber during the patrol over the channel. A V-1 flying bomb launched by another He 111 bomber hit a hostel for agricultural workers near Benenden, Kent, England, United Kingdom, killing four and injuring 33. The balloons around Dartford brought down two flying bombs and another, shot down by a fighter over Bidborough, near Tonbridge Wells in Kent, was the first to be found to be carrying 24 1-kilogram incendiary bombs. Flight Lieutenant "Togs" Mellersh of FIU (fighter interception Unit) shot down four flying bombs on his single night patrol.|
|9 Aug 1944||A V-1 flying bomb exploded in the air above the town of Lamberhurst, Kent, England, United Kingdom after being shot at by a fighter, the bomb scattered 1-kilogram incendiary bombs. 91 squadron was officially taken off anti-V-1 operations and moved to RAF Hawkinge in Kent to re-equip with Spitfire LFIX fighters. The squadron had accounted for 184 of the bombs, and 2 more would be added whilst they trained in their new aircraft. The squadron's Spitfire XIV fighters were handed to 402 Squadron (RCAF) who commenced anti-V-1 operations three days later.|
|12 Aug 1944||No. 402 Squadron RCAF, flying Spitfire XIV fighters, began anti-V-1 flying bomb operations in Britain. The squadron was based at RAF Hawkinge in Kent, England, United Kingdom.|
|13 Aug 1944||There were 19 V-1 flying bombs launched against Britain by Heinkel aircraft from III/KG3 during the night, only half of the number launched by air the previous evening. The Gruppe were having to evacuate their base at Rozi?res, Picardy, France, as the Allied advance was approaching the area, they would fly to Venlo in the Netherlands but would not launch any further bombs for a week. Squadron 274 lost a pilot, Flight Sergeant Royston Ryman flew into a hilltop at Elham, Kent, whilst conducting an anti-Diver patrol. A further seventeen V-1 flying bombs were shot down by anti-aircraft fire, one of which fell and exploded near to Lydden Spout coastal battery at Dover, Kent where a serviceman was badly wounded and four others slightly injured.|
|14 Aug 1944||The US 127th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment became operational; at the end of the V-1 attacks the regiment had accounted for 56 of the flying bombs. A V-1 flying bomb brought down by British guns tragically fell on Twiss Road, Hythe in Kent in southern Britain. It destroyed houses and killed a family of 5 also injuring a further 17 some seriously. Flight Officer Peter Graham almost lost his life when diving down from 12,000 feet he levelled up too close to his target; the slip stream threw his Spitfire fighter over, but he managed to recover, only to see his target, a V-1 flying bomb, fly between the wires of the balloon defence.|
|16 Aug 1944||A V-1 flying bomb exploded in High Street of Walthamstow in east London, England, United Kingdom killing 17 and injuring 62. Nine more people were killed further south in Brockley. Deptford in south-east London received its 7th bomb which damaged houses that were already being repaired and killed 7. Officers and men of the squadrons based at RAF Dettling, north-east of Maidstone, Kent, southern England were not amused when a bomb was shot down and exploded not far from their control tower and sending three airmen to hospital.|
|17 Aug 1944||Anti-aircraft gunners at Folkestone, Kent, England, United Kingdom brought down 27 flying bombs during the day, all landing in the sea close to the beaches. The batteries at nearby Hythe accounted for a further 16. As usual the number of bombs being launched meant that some got through to the London area. One bomb landed only yards from where one exploded four days earlier killing another 3 residents. The worst incident was at Rotherhithe Street in Bermondsey where 17 were killed and more than 60 injured. Later in the afternoon 16 residents of Mossbury Road in Lavender Hill south London were killed.|
|18 Aug 1944||A V-1 bomb blew up and destroyed the railway bridge over Oak Lane in Newington, Kent, England, United Kingdom. This happened as an express train was approaching. The locomotive and tender jumped the gap, but the first two carriages crashed onto the road. Seven passengers and a railway worker who had run to the bridge for shelter were killed. Two days later the bridge was repaired, and traffic was as normal.|
|18 Aug 1944||Flight Lieutenant Brian Williams of 605 Squadron RAF flying his Mosquito VI fighter from RAF Manston brought down 2 V-1 flying bombs on his patrol bringing his total to 5 in just two weeks of action. A typically economic report entered by pilots on patrol was written by Flight Lieutenant K. A. Roediger of 456 squadron RAAF: "23.24hrs attacked Diver astern, height 1,200ft, speed 360 mph fired at range of 1,200 feet. Target dived straight in and exploded on ground."|
|19 Aug 1944||A V-1 flying bomb went astray and impacted in Norfolk, England, United Kingdom near RAF Thorpe Abbots, the base of the 100th Bomber Group (The bloody One Hundredth). The base diarist commented that, "The tannoy gave a red alert and two seconds later the buzz bomb blew". Three Polish squadrons (316, 315 and 306) were in action, shooting down 12 V-1 flying bombs between them, with Warrant officer Józef Feruga (316 Squadronn) taking down 3 of them over Dungeness, Kent.|
|20 Aug 1944||Three V-1 flying bombs caused 16 deaths in the area around Twickenham Road, Feltham and Studeley Road in Stockwell, both of London, England, United Kingdom. Pilot Officer John Bilodeau RCAF (129 Squadron) flying Mustang III FB395/DV-Y fighter appeared to spin out of low cloud and crash into the sea, this was the squadron's first loss of a pilot whilst combatting the flying bombs.|
|21 Aug 1944||Willesden in north-west London received its second V-1 flying bomb in two days, the latest impacting in College Road where 20 were killed and many injured another. 29 lives were lost and 58 hospitalized in Wharnecliffe Gardens, Marylebone in south-east London. The anti-aircraft battery in Dover had their best day, shooting down over 36 bombs over the sea and beaches.|
|22 Aug 1944||111/KG3 of the German Air Force launched 21 sorties during the early hours from their new base at Venlo in the south east of the Netherlands. All Heinkel bombers returned safely after launching their V-1 flying bombs. One of these impacted on just half a mile down Oak Lane, where the railway bridge had just been repaired. Another clipped some elm trees near some cottages and span into on of them killing a man and a woman, orphaning the two children who were dug out of the wreckage unhurt.|
|23 Aug 1944||At 0801 hours a V-1 flying bomb exploded at Oakleigh Road, Brunswick Park, East Barnet, London, England, United Kingdom, killing 33 and injuring a further 212 people. The bomb impacted on the Standard Telephone and Cable factory.|
|23 Aug 1944||Fifty-one V-1 flying bombs were brought down by anti-aircraft fire over the coast at Folkestone, Kent, southeastern England, United Kingdom; all but two crashed into the sea. The railway line out of Folkestone was damaged by another bomb shot down by a fighter of 315 Squadron (Polish) RAF. Thirteen more were brought down by the anti-aircraft batteries at Lydd, Kent, one of which exploded and scattered propaganda leaflets over the town. One V-1 flying bomb that made it to South London was brought down when it hit barrage balloon cables at Skeet Hill House, Orpington. A V-1 flying bomb hit Oakleigh Road in Brunswick Park, East Barnet, north of the river Thames, killing 33 as houses and shops collapsed with the blast. Another fell nearby in the centre of the football pitch which had been emptied. Yet another that made it through the defences badly damaged the village church near the perimeter of RAF Stradishall in Suffolk, shortly after it had been crowded with a harvest thanksgiving service.|
|24 Aug 1944||An heavy anti-aircraft gun position in Annerley road, Penge, London, England, United Kingdom took a direct hit from a V-1 flying bomb, killing all 7 of the gun crew. The anti-aircraft guns along the coast had another good day taking account of over 65 flying bombs, many before they reached the mainland. The spectacle of seeing the bombs get hit and explode had become somewhat of a daily routine along the coast, many of the impact sites were visited by curious boys on their cycles before any home guard unit got to them. Parts of the bombs were being collected as trophies, a spark plug being the big prize.|
|25 Aug 1944||The amount of V-1 flying bombs being sent over the English Channel was now noticeably decreasing as the Allied armies pushed into the Netherlands and captured and destroyed the launching sites. The German Air Force still were able to launch missiles with the Heinkel bombers of III /KG3 which had been moved east-wards to other airfields. Just before midnight a V-1 flying bomb came down in Carrington Road, Dartford, Kent, England, United Kingdom killing 12 people as they slept in their houses.|
|26 Aug 1944||Whilst engaged escorting RAF Marauder bombers on a mission Flight Officer Ted Topham (91 Squadron), flying his Spitfire LFIX fighter, sighted a V-1 flying bomb heading across the English Channel which he chased and brought down into the sea. This was his 10th kill and would be the squadron's 186th and final V-1 flying bomb brought down.|
|27 Aug 1944||A total of 18 V-1 flying bombs were brought down within an hour by the anti-aircraft batteries at Folkstone and Hythe in Kent, England, United Kingdom. Flight Lieutenant Francis "Togs" Mellersh of 96 Squadron flying out of RAF Ford shot down a V-1 flying bomb as it passed the anti-aircraft guns at Dungeness on the Kent coast; this bomb brought his score to 43 and the squadron's to 176. Flight Lieutenant Gordon Bonham RNZAF of 501 Squadron brought down 4 bombs on his patrol and found he had to land on a farm as his Tempest V fighter had run dry of fuel; the farmer's son watched him land and took him to have lunch at the farm after telephoning for fuel to be brought in; the process of refuelling was slow as 4-gallon drums had to be carried over the field; after taking off, Bonham treated the family to a show of aerobatics.|
|28 Aug 1944||Of 97 V-1 flying bombs launched this day from the Netherlands only 4 got through the anti-aircraft and fighter cordon, the fighters taking down 23 and the anti-aircraft guns 65 (Folkestone hitting 58), the remainder struck barrage balloon wires. Some of the bombs were found to be carrying propaganda leaflets. Only two serious casualties were reported during the day. Although 41 squadron had been stood down from V-1 patrols Flight Lieutenant Terry Spencer whilst carrying out tests in his Spitfire XII fighter saw a bomb passing over the town of Rye, Kent, England, United Kingdom he gave chase and brought it down in farmland; it was the Unit's 53rd and last victory.|
|29 Aug 1944||One of the last V-1 flying bombs to fall on south-east London, England, United Kingdom glided down in a shallow dive at 1440 hours, its wing collided with the steeple of Eltham's Parish Church; the subsequent blast killed 2 and injured 50 more. 200 houses were badly damaged by blast in the town of Lydd, a village on the Romney marshes in Kent in southern England. Flight Lieutenant D. F. Ruchwaldy, 129 Squadron RAF shot down 4 V-1 flying bombs as he crossed the English Channel; the first over Dungeness and two more in mid-Channel. As he approached the French coast he sighted a fourth and gave chase and opened fire, he then came under friendly fire from a Royal Navy vessel; the bomb blew up and he flew through the blast. Upon landing he claimed the last bomb, saying that the Navy's shooting was not up to much and the could not possibly have hit the thing.|
|31 Aug 1944||In the early morning hours between 0300 and 0630 hours, German Air Force III K/G3 launched twenty V-1 flying bombs with Gloucester, England, United Kingdom as the target. Only 8 got across and over the coast and 6 of these fell to earth in Suffolk and the other two in Essex. One of the bombs injured 7 people in Suffolk near to Harleston. One bomb brought down by a fighter near the coast impacted near Whitstable in Kent seriously injuring four people. One of the Heinkel bombers flown by Unteroffizier Lorenz Gruber crashed at Vossenberg in Belgium on the return flight, all the crew perished. This was the final operation of the of the month by the aircraft of III K/G3, they had flown 228 sorties for the loss of 3 aircraft, a better return from the previous month.|
|1 Sep 1944||Several waves of V-1 flying bombs were launched across the English Channel toward Britain, most failed to make their targets being brought down by coastal gunners; Folkestone batteries brought down 19 and saw 3 more destroyed by fighters behind them. Of the 19 brought down by batteries, Hythe got 9, while Dover brought down 6. The credit for the third of the 3 brought down by fighters was given to Warrant Officer Tommy Hetherington of 129 Squadron, brought down in the afternoon; this was his unit's 66th bomb to be destroyed; Hetherington had very little ammunition left and although seeing strikes he ran out flying around the bomb he managed to upset the bombs gyros with his slipstream, the bomb fell into the sea 5 miles from Dover on the British coast. One bomb that succeeded in getting through exploded close to the battery at Lyddon Spout beach, Dover. It wounded 4 soldiers on guard. The battery had been upgraded to Mark XXIV six-inch guns.|
|2 Sep 1944||A sortie was carried out by II/KG 101 of the German Air Force, the target being Allied shipping in the English Channel. The plans were to co-ordinate with bomb-carrying Fw 109 aircraft from 2/KG200 but it was not successful. A Ju 88 aircraft crashed at Warsop in Nottinghamshire in central England, United Kingdom, another was brought down at Hothfield, Kent, southern England. Following this unsuccessful attack, II/KG101 was disbanded and a new unit III/KG66 was formed commanded by Hauptmann Kurt Capesius flying from Burg airfield near Magdeburg, Germany.|
|2 Sep 1944||In Britain, a V-1 flying bomb landed on RAF Hawkinge destroying a Spitfire fighter of 350 squadron and wounding some airmen. Another fell on the perimeter of RAF Nacton in Ipswich, killing a RAF non-commissioned officer and destroying a house. Records later showed that by this date, the effective end of the V-1 assault from France, 8,617 bombs had been ground launched against the United Kingdom. German AIr Force unit III K/G3 had launched about 410, mostly against London, however the Germans still had more to send.|
|2 Sep 1944||The German V-2 weapon was declared operational.|
|3 Sep 1944||Heinkel aircraft of III/KG3 of the German Air Force made 23 sorties with V-1 flying bombs being launched against London, Portsmouth, Southampton, and Gloucester of England, United Kingdom. 3 of these bombs came down in East Anglia, at Hill Farm in Felixstowe on the Suffolk coast, Langham in the east midlands and Dedham, near Colchester in Essex, other bombs fell in various areas of the home counties but caused very little damage. A veteran Luftwaffe pilot, Horst Juventus, who had been posted to III/KG3 recalled that the pilots all felt that the Luftwaffe were finished and hated to fly the Heinkel aircraft with the flying bomb attached. "Some crews", he said, "just dumped the bombs as soon as possible in order to get home safely." Also on this date, in the early morning, the 4 remaining Mistel aircraft with II/KG101 again headed out to launch against London, the attack was to be co-ordinated with that of bomb carrying Fw 190 aircraft from 2/KG200, but it failed. 2 of the Ju 88 Mistel aircraft crossed the English coast, one of which crashed at Warsop in Nottinghamshire and the other only just made it over the coast to crash at Hothfield, Kent. Following this II/KG101 was disbanded and a new Mistel unit, III/KG66 came into being commanded by Hauptmann Kurt Cepesius at Burg airfield near Magdeburg, Germany.|
|4 Sep 1944||23 sorties of Heinkel bombers, carrying V-1 flying bombs, operated by German Air Force III/KG3 from Venlo, Netherlands took off against London, Portsmouth, and Gloucester in Britain. 3 came down in East Anglia and one reached Eyeworth in Bedfordshire. Veteran German pilot Horst Juventus had been posted to III/KG3 and recalled "They [V-1 flying bombs] were obviously a very indiscriminate weapon and really served no good purpose. But we had our orders. I flew from Gilze-Rijen over the North Sea for a distance before igniting the V-1s and launching them. These things were a positive menace as they did not fly true and we were in great danger with the contraption beneath us. I am sure some crews released them as soon as we were out of sight of land."|
|6 Sep 1944||The British government issued a communique after a meeting of the Chiefs of the Imperial Staff saying that the V-1 flying bombs to this date had killed 5,817 people, and with 22,870 slightly wounded another 17,086 hospitalised. It finished by adding that the enemy had been completely driven out of static launch sites and that a small-scale attempt was still being made to launch by aircraft. "Except possibly for a last few shots, the Battle of London is over-we have beaten Hitler's secret weapon, the V-1, which was to have terrorised Britain into making a negotiated peace."|
|7 Sep 1944||The first two German V-2 rockets were fired against the Allies by German 444 and 485 Mobile Artillery Detachments at 1030 and 1140 hours, respectively. They both targeted Paris, France, but both crashed immediately after launch.|
|8 Sep 1944||The third German V-2 rocket fired in anger became the first to successfully hit the intended target, hitting an area in the suburbs of Paris, France. The fourth and fifth rockets, aimed at London, England, United Kingdom, also found their targets. The fourth rocket fired at 1738 hours London time or 1838 hours German time landed in the Borough of Chiswick at 1843 hours London time; it landed on Staveley Road, collapsed three houses, killed 3 civilians and 1 off-duty Royal Engineers soldier, and made a crater 40 feet wide and between 10 and 20 feet deep. The fifth rocket landed 16 seconds later in Epping, which was 18 miles northeast of Whitehall and 20 miles from Chiswick; this rocket destroyed some wodden huts and made a crater 30 feet wide and 16 feet deep. The British government censored all these incidents in fear of potential demoralizing effects.|
|12 Sep 1944||One of the four German V-2 rockets launched on this date hit Chrysler vehicle works in Mortlake Road, Kew, southwestern London, England, United Kingdom. 8 were killed, 14 were wounded, and property damage was significant.|
|13 Sep 1944||One German V-2 rocket hit Britain.|
|14 Sep 1944||Three German V-2 rockets hit Britain. One of them hit the center of Walthamstow, London, England, United Kingdom at 0455 hours, killing six immediately and another one later from wounds. The resulting crater was 50 feet wide and 10 feet deep.|
|16 Sep 1944||13 He III bombers of I/KG53 of the German Air Force from Varelbusch, near Bremen, Germany took off to launch V-1 flying bombs, one crashed and exploded on take off killing the crew. 3 of the aircraft were intercepted and shot down over the sea. Royal Naval gunners hitting 2 and the other by a Mosquito aircraft of 96 Squadron flown by Lieutenant Ian Dobie. As they crossed the British coast 2 more were shot down by a Tempest aircraft flown by Flight Officer Bud Miller USAAF of 501 Squadron. Of the bombs launched, one hit a water tower at Saffron Walden, a market town in Essex. The tower was at the end of the runway of nearby Debden airfield and shook the men of 4th Fighter Group billet there. General Sir Fredrick Pile in charge of Britain's anti-aircraft defences noted that after an interval the attacks were being stepped up and he was having trouble shifting the guns into places where they could combat the bombs being launched by aircraft.|
|17 Sep 1944||A German Heinkel bomber was lost when 14 of them took off from Varrelbusch, near Bremen, Germany on a sortie to launch V-1 flying bombs over eastern England, United Kingdom. Unteroffizier Hans Jördens ditched into Lake Braassemermeer in southern Netherlands, the crew survived but the aircraft was written off; it had flown into friendly fire. 9 of the returning aircraft were also damaged by the flak around the Dutch coast. These messages were all picked up on Utlra intercepts. A Mosquito aircraft from 96 Squadron brought down a flying bomb after its launch over the Kent coast of southern England.|
|18 Sep 1944||Spitfire fighter pilot Flight Lieutenant D. A. J. Draper of 4 Squadron, flying a reconnaissance flight over Zoutkamp, Netherlands sighted what he thought was a Do 217 aircraft at 22,000 feet, as his aircraft was unarmed he went in to do a dummy attack and reported that the aircraft released a V-1 flying bomb before escaping. It was thought that only Heinkel bombers could carry the flying bombs but there was a certain amount of experimenting going on and Draper might well had been correct.|
|20 Sep 1944||German Air Force III/KG3 flew 21 sorties and 68 Squadron RAF was vectored to a position over the Dutch coastal Islands. A Mosquito aircraft flown by Flight Sergeant John Jenkins failed to return. It was presumed that the aircraft was brought down by the explosion of its target, which was a V-1 flying bomb. One of the V-1 flying bombs launched by the German bombers impacted on the beach next to the perimeter of the Experimental Radar Facility at Bawdsey Manor near Felixstowe eastern United Kingdom. One that fell in a farmer's field at Chediston in the County of Suffolk had the number 701422 and another that destroyed 3 houses at Hacheston near Ipswich in the same County was 701427. This numbering only appeared on the air launched bombs.|
|23 Sep 1944||A V-1 flying bomb over flew the town of Newmarket, Suffolk, England, United Kingdom and crashed near Burwell in Cambridgeshire. The pilot, at the rank of flight officer, of the 501 Squadron had been chasing the bomb and had reached overtaking speed when the engine of his Tempest aircraft seized up. He had seconds to gain a little height and turn to the west to avoid the marshlands and bale out. He saw the aircraft crash into a barn and explode whilst he landed in a cherry tree outside the Leather Bottle Inn. It was there that he was rescued by a Royal Engineer Officer before being held in a Police Station for 2 hours awaiting proper identification. The fault in the Tempest aircraft was traced to an air lock when fuel tanks were switched over.|
|25 Sep 1944||British 501 Squadron's Tempest aircraft continued to fly all weather patrols against the V-1 flying bombs. The American Flight Officer Bud Miller shot down his 9th and final bomb but Flight Lieutenant Gordon "Snowy" Bonham DFC was killed when his Tempest aircraft crashed in bad weather at Spitfield Farm in Essex, England, United Kingdom; the New Zealander had flown against the Japanese in Singapore in 1942, and had 5 flying bombs to his credit. Four flying bombs penetrated the defences, one falling in Chersey, Surrey, one in Essex and another at Hessett, 5 miles east of Bury St Edmunds, it exploded in the middle of Mellfield Woods, damaging the farm house.|
|28 Sep 1944||German Air Force III/KG3 flew 20 sorties and lost two of their aircraft. The only other contacts were with a Royal Navy Avenger aircraft that was intercepted by Flight Officer Henley and a Warwick recognised in good time by Squardon Leader Humphrey, he continued on his patrol and claimed his first flying bomb over The hague, The Netherlands. All 7 of the bombs that got through the defence fell in the East Anglia region of England, United Kingdom, most landed in farmland and there were no injuries caused.|
|30 Sep 1944||A V-1 flying bomb caused 5 deaths and many injuries when a row of houses was demolished at Ardleigh in Essex, England, United Kingdom. The USAAF base at Thorpe Abbots, home of the 100th Bomb Group ("The Bloody 100th") reported buzz bombs flying over the airfield at 150 feet before exploding in the farm fields surrounding the base. A US 8th Air Force 750-bomber raid on Munster and Handorf in Germany killed the Staffelkapitän and the training officer of German Air Force 7/KG3; records captured by the Allies showed that 177 flying bombs had been launched by the Staffel during 13 nights of sorties in Sep 1944.|
|3 Oct 1944||A German V-2 rocket hit the Hellesdon Golf Course near Norwich, England, United Kingdom at 1950 hours, injuring 1 person and damaging a glasshouse, 5 farm buildings/barns, several haystacks, and 1 acre of sugar beet.|
|3 Oct 1944||German Air Force III/KG 66 at Burg, near Magdeburg, Germany, reported an inventory of 13 Mistel unmanned glide bombs; of which 10 were serviceable. 5 of the aircraft took off on this night to attack the bridges at Nijmegen, the Netherlands. The weather conditions were poor and 3 of the aircraft crashed into the Teutoburger Wald; Oberst Horst Polster, the Staffelkapitän, was killed as were Unteroffizier Fritz Scheffler and Unteroffizier Paul Barinski. The other pilots could not find the target in the fog and yet another was brought down.|
|3 Oct 1944||The British Royal Navy's NFIU now received permission to participate in anti V-1 patrols; naval airmen operated from RAF Coltishall in Norfolk, England, United Kingdom to evaluate the Firefly NF.I aircraft against the V-1-carrying Heinkel bombers.|
|4 Oct 1944||A German V-2 rocket hit Rockland St Mary 6 miles southeast of Norwich, England, United Kingdom. It hit the village school directly, injuring 2 adults and 34 children, and the blast damaged 23 houses nearby. It was the worst attack on the Norwich region during the war.|
|5 Oct 1944||A German V-2 rocket hit Acle near Norwich, England, United Kingdom, temporarily causing blockage to a road. Another rocket hit Surlingham, downing several telephone lines.|
|6 Oct 1944||11 German Heinkel bombers carrying V-1 flying bombs took off on the evening and were met by British Mosquito aircraft from 25 Squadron, resulting in losses for both sides. HK256 aircraft crewed by British Flight Officer Jack Henderson and British Flight Officer Roland Nicholls crashed into the sea at the start of the attack; Henderson survived and became a prisoner of war but the navigator Nicholls was killed. The former Hurricane fighter pilot Flight Lieutenant Alf Marshall DFM, flying his first night mission brought down his 20th air victory in the fight which saw another He 111 bomber go down, victim of 68 Squadron pilot Flight Officer John Haskell.|
|6 Oct 1944||A German V-2 rocket hit Shotesham All Saints 5 miles south of Norwich, England, United Kingdom, slightly injuring 1 person while damaging 20 houses, 1 church, and 1 school.|
|7 Oct 1944||More German Heinkel bombers carrying V-1 flying bombs were shot down. One V-1 flying bomb escaped the fighters and anti-aircraft guns and flew into a balloon cable over the village of Fawkham near Gravesend, Kent, England, United Kingdom and demolished several houses. There were 17 fatalities and 54 injured, 20 of them seriously when another fell at the Park Road/Barrington Road.|
|11 Oct 1944||A German V-2 rocket hit Rockland St Mary 6 miles southeast of Norwich, England, United Kingdom, which was the second rocket to hit the village during the war (first being on 4 Oct 1944). It damaged 14 houses.|
|12 Oct 1944||A German V-2 rocket hit Ingworth 14 miles north of Norwich, England, United Kingdom, slightly injuring 2 people and causing damage to 20 houses and 1 school. This rocket was the 28th rocket to hit the Norwich region, and was to be the last of the current rocket campaign against Norwich. None of the 28 rockets targeted at this area killed anyone, and property damage was relatively light.|
|12 Oct 1944||The German 485 Mobile Artillery Detachment, responsible for launching V-2 rockets, began their move from Friesland to the Hague in the Netherlands. On the same day, Adolf Hitler ordered that London, England, United Kingdom was to be the only target for V-2 rockets in Britain; attacks on other continental cities such as Antwerp were to continue.|
|13 Oct 1944||In Britain, V-1 flying bomb fell on the Suffolk town of Southwold and caused major damage but surprisingly no serious injuries; in all 337 houses were damaged, 68 shops, three churches and the fire station were all reported as being victims in some way to the blast. Another impacted on RAF Raydon near Ipswich, the bomb narrowly missed the bomb dump concealed in woods next to the perimeter, at the time of the strike bombs were being loaded onto transport trucks.|
|14 Oct 1944||In Britain, a V-1 flying bomb landed in a field by the Suffolk village of Hopton and failed to explode. Bomb Disposal Officer Lieutenant C. H. Bassett was killed whilst removing one of the fuses. Flying Officer Lulu Deleuze of 501 Squadron shot down two V-1 flying bombs in his Tempest fighter, one of them came down by the Red Lion Public House injuring a number of customers.|
|15 Oct 1944||A total of 9 V-1 flying bombs were air launched over the East Anglian coast of Britain. One got through the defensive cordon and came down in the London Borough of Southwark at the junction of Athenlay Road and Fernholm Road killing 8 residents.|
|15 Oct 1944||German V-2 rocket hit Rettendon, Essex, England, United Kingdom. The village pub was damaged and two were slightly injured.|
|17 Oct 1944||Some 70 houses were damaged in the village of Kirby-le-Soken in Essex, England, United Kingdom when a V-1 came down. This date marked an increase in the number of flying bombs launched over the rest of the month. More night fighters were now sent up to the east coast.|
|20 Oct 1944||German V-2 rocket hit Croydon, London, England, United Kingdom, killing 6 and seriously injuring 14.|
|22 Oct 1944||The German 485 Mobile Artillery Detachment, responsible for launching V-2 rockets, arrived at the Hague, the Netherlands. It immediately began to set up their equipment for a renewed rocket campaign against London, England, United Kingdom.|
|22 Oct 1944||Two V-1 flying bombs were brought down by British pilot Flight Officer Johnny Johnson. Two people were killed and 69 were injured by the blast of a V-1 flying bomb exploded at the Orsett Road-Derby Road junction in Grays, Essex, England, United Kingdom.|
|26 Oct 1944||A German V-2 rocket hit Palmers Green Station in North London, England, United Kingdom at 1845 hours; detonating next to a stationary train, it seriously injured 15 people, while 38 suffered minor injuries. Elsewhere, another rocket hit Ilford, London, killing 8, seriously injuring 15, and lightly injuring 20.|
|26 Oct 1944||On attachment to 68 Squadron RAF for night fighter training, First Lieutenant Sam Peebles USN and his navigator Ensign Dock Grinndal USN chased three V-1 flying bombs that went into thick cloud but, sighting a fourth, they dived to follow and got to 200 yards range at only 400 feet above the sea. "We had reached 350 mph and gave it a short burst, the engine stopped, and it exploded and shook the Mosquito a little", he put in his report. A V-1 flying bomb that had evaded the defences came down on the railway line at Palmer's Green Station in Enfield in London, England, United Kingdom, causing the line to be closed for a day and slightly injuring some railway workers.|
|29 Oct 1944||German V-2 rocket hit the Beckton Gas Works in London, England, United Kingdom.|
|30 Oct 1944||German V-2 rocket hit the Royal Victoria Dock at Earlham Grove, West Ham, London, England, United Kingdom at 1200 hours.|
|31 Oct 1944||A German V-2 rocket hit Swedish Yard of Surrey Commercial Docks in Bermondsey, London at 0256 hours, damaging several wheat containers. Another rocket hit the Royal Victoria Dock at Earlham Grove, West Ham in the afternoon.|
|31 Oct 1944||V-1 flying bombs struck Britain. Fifteen people were killed in the south eastern counties and a further three were killed in West Ham, London. At 0650 hours a V-1 flying bomb struck the Marie Hotel at Coulsdon, London; the hotel was used as an old people's private hotel; seventeen of the residents were killed and ten more seriously injured.|
|1 Nov 1944||A German V-2 rocket hit Eglington Road in Woolwich, London, England, United Kingdom at 0210 hours, killing 7 people. At 0510 hours, another rocket hit Friern Road in Camberwell, London, killing 24 and injuring 17. A third rocket hit Shardeloes Road in Deptford, London at 1830 hours, killing 31, seriously injuring 62, and lightly injuring 90. Two other rockets hit London that day, though causing little damage.|
|2 Nov 1944||Four German V-2 rockets hit London, England, United Kingdom on this date. One of them hit outside of a mental hospital at Banstead, killing 3 and seriously injuring 11. Another hit Deptford, killing 31.|
|4 Nov 1944||Another mini-blitz of V-1 flying bombs started in the evening after some quiet days. 17 Heinkel bombers of III/KG3 started the assault; during the next seven nights, 12 of the Heinkels failed to return, half falling to the night fighters. A Beaufighter aircraft of the Fighter Interception Development Squadron (FIDS) from RAF Coltishall, flown by Squadron Leader P. J. Howard-Williams brought down one and as he was heading for home picked up another on his radar and shot it down. The evening proved disastrous for the crews of II/KG53, of the 14 aircraft that left Varrelbusch, 5 failed to return and another crashed upon landing. Six aircraft totally lost along with 23 aircrew.|
|4 Nov 1944||German V-2 rocket hit the golf course at Ilford, London, England, United Kingdom without causing any injuries.|
|5 Nov 1944||A German V-2 rocket hit Collier Row in Essex County near London (now a part of London), England, United Kingdom at 0035 hours. Another rocket hit Penhurst, Kent, southern England at 0130 hours. At 0745, a third rocket hit Tooting Bec Common in southwest London. A fourth rocket hit an iron bridge in Southwark Park Road, Bermundsey, London at 1045 hours, damaging 250 feet of railway. At 1713 hours, yet another rocket hit Grovedale Road, Islington, London, killing 31 and seriously injuring 84.|
|5 Nov 1944||Another disastrous night for the Luftwaffe with a further 5 Heinkel bombers launching V-1 flying bombs lost. Two were victims of 68 squadron's Mosquito aircraft and another being brought down by Squadron Leader Bill Maguire DFC (with Flight Officer W. D. Jones DFC) in their Beaufighter aircraft. 17 crews from German Luftwaffe 11/KG53 airborne that night was instructed to carry out attacks on Portsmouth in southern Britain; none of the bombs hit the town.|
|6 Nov 1944||A German V-2 rocket fired from the Hague, the Netherlands intended for London, England, United Kingdom went astray, hitting Biscot Road, Luton 32 miles north of London instead. It killed 19 people and injured 196, while destroying 17 houses and damaging 1,500 others.|
|8 Nov 1944||At 1419 hours, German radio revealed the on-going V-2 rocket campaign against Britain to the world for the first time. The message was picked up by the BBC in Britain shortly after.|
|8 Nov 1944||The second largest cinema in England, the Gaumont State Theatre in Holloway, north London, England, United Kingdom, was hit by a V-1 flying bomb. The cinema's frontage and restaurant were blown out, only the main walls and part of the foyer were left undamaged. However, the most serious incident of the day was at Rochester, North Kent, in which a V-1 flying bomb impacted at at 2045 hours on the junction of Grafton Avenue and Gerrard's Avenue, killing 8 and seriously wounding 17.|
|9 Nov 1944||25 Squadron RAF had success during the night over the North Sea. Mosquito aircraft MV521 crewed by Flight Lieutenants Jim Lomas and Norman Fleet shot down a Heinkel bomber off the coast near Clacton, Essex, England, United Kingdom. A V-1, damaged by a fighter, crashed at Brentwood in Essex, killing 3 and injuring 10 in Mount Crescent.|
|10 Nov 1944||A total of 29 V-1 flying bomb sorties were flown by Heinkel bomber crews, some flying twice during the night. The first flights took off from Varrelbusch, the Netherlands at 1758 hours and the last to return landed at 0515 hours on the next day. The night was a bad one again for KG53, two aircraft from 4 Staffel failing to return from the operation: A1+NM piloted by Oberfähnrich Walter Strump and A1+HM by Leutnant Günther Scholz plus another from 3 Staffel; there were no survivors from any of these losses.|
|10 Nov 1944||British government lifted the ban on reporting rocket attacks on Britain after Prime Minister Churchill announced to the Parliament that British cities had been under rocket attack "for the last few weeks"; German V-2 rocket attacks had in fact started on 8 Sep 1944, or more than two months prior to Churchill's announcement. On the same day, a V-2 rocket hit Goulson Street in Stepney, London, England United Kingdom, killing 19, seriously injuring 97, and lightly injuring 323.|
|11 Nov 1944||German V-2 rocket hit Shooters Hill, London, England, United Kingdom at 1830 hours, killing 24.|
|12 Nov 1944||German V-2 rocket hit the Bromley Gas Works in West Ham, London, England, United Kingdom.|
|14 Nov 1944||Mosquito aircraft HK289/WM-K of 68 Squadron took off from RAF Coltishall in Norfolk, England, United Kingdom at 1805 hours flown by on of the unit's American crews, Lieutenants Joe Black from Virginia and Tom Aiken from Pennsylvania both USN Reserve officers. The crew advised that they had a contact on their radar and were in pursuit. At 1909 hours, a V-1 flying bomb passed over the batteries at the village of Hopton, behind it was Black's Mosquito aircraft. The briefing to pilots in such situation was to lose speed and height and to circle at asset distance from the coast with navigation lights on. It was supposed that Black was so focused on the pursuit that they failed to notice they were in the batteries' area. Proximity shells burst all around the aircraft which crashed on Decoy Farm, Blundeston, Suffolk killing the Americans.|
|16 Nov 1944||German V-2 rocket hit Collier Row in Romford, Essex, England, United Kingdom, killing 12 and injuring 32.|
|19 Nov 1944||German V-2 rocket hit a car park at Southborough Lane, Bromley in southeast London, England, United Kingdom, across from a crowded pub, at 2115 hours. 23 were killed and 63 were injured.|
|22 Nov 1944||A Heinkel bomber of 1 Staffel, flying a V-1 flying bomb mission, crashed at Osterode near Bramsche, Germany; the pilot Fähnrich Wilhelm Wolfshol and his observer Unteroffizier Georg Grill were killed, the other three crew members were badly injured.|
|22 Nov 1944||German V-2 rocket hit Totty Street, Bethnal Green in the East End of London, England, United Kingdom. 25 were killed and 44 were injured.|
|23 Nov 1944||In Britain, the Suffolk and Essex coastal batteries, who were now in place and fully operational, brought down a total of 25 V-1 flying bombs between the previous night and this night.|
|24 Nov 1944||German V-2 rocket hit McCullum Road, Poplar in East End of London, England, United Kingdom at 2030 hours. 18 were killed and 53 were injured.|
|24 Nov 1944||In Britain, the batteries in Suffolk and Essex coastal areas brought down 11 V-1 flying bombs during the evening and another German He 111 aircraft was brought down by a Mosquito night fighter of 456 Squadron flown by Flight Officer Fred Stevens RAAF and Flight Officer Andy Kellett RAAF who had chased the German aircraft for 20 minutes. The Heinkel aircraft of 1/KG53, with its V-1 flying bomb still attached, fell into the sea ten miles off Egmond Aan Zee, the Netherlands. However, the Mosquito aircraft from the same Unit was posted missing, the reasons for the loss have never been found, it was thought at the time that it was lost due to damage sustained in its target's explosion.|
|25 Nov 1944||A German V-2 rocket hit near the intersection of High Holborn and Chancery Lane, Holborn, London, England, United Kingdom at 1115 hours, killing 6 and injuring 292. At 1225 hours, another V-2 rocket hit across the street from the Woolworths store in Deptford, London, destroying the store and many nearby building, killing 160 and injuring 199 (77 seriously).|
|26 Nov 1944||A German V-2 rocket hits a Woolworth's shop on New Cross High Street, London, England, United Kingdom, killing 168 shoppers.|
|26 Nov 1944||Germany began V-1 and V-2 rocket attacks on Antwerp, Belgium.|
|27 Nov 1944||A V-2 rocket impacted on Teniers Square, Antwerp, Belgium, as an Allied military convoy was passing through. The explosion killed 157 persons, including 29 Allied soldiers.|
|30 Nov 1944||German V-2 rocket at Shooters Hill, London, England, United Kingdom at 0100 hours, killing 23.|
|7 Dec 1944||German V-2 rocket hit Canley Road in Hackney, London, England, United Kingdom.|
|19 Dec 1944||German V-2 rocket hit Chelmsford, Essex, England, United Kingdom at 0130 hours. The war factory was hit, killing 39 and seriously injuring 33.|
|22 Dec 1944||German V-2 rocket hit Chelmsford, Essex, England, United Kingdom, seriously injuring one person.|
|26 Dec 1944||German V-2 rocket hit Islington, London, England, United Kingdom at 2126 hours, killing 68 and seriously injuring 99. The rocket left two craters, one 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep, the other 10 feet wide and 4 feet deep.|
|29 Dec 1944||German V-2 rocket hit a house on Croham Valley Road, Croydon, London, England, United Kingdom, killing all occupants.|
|31 Dec 1944||German V-2 rocket hit near the intersection of Stroud Green Road and Stapledon Hall Road in Crouch Hill, London, England, United Kingdom at 2340 hours, killing 15 and seriously injuring 34. 15 homes were destroyed by this attack. This rocket was the 382nd, and the last, rocket to hit England in 1944.|
|3 Jan 1945||German V-2 rocket hit the Royal Hospital in Chelsea, London, England, United Kingdom at 0850 hours, killing 5 and injuring 19.|
|4 Jan 1945||German V-2 rocket hit Woodland Street in Hackney, London, England, United Kingdom.|
|5 Jan 1945||German V-2 rocket hit the golf course at Croydon, London, England, United Kingdom, making a crater 40 feet wide.|
|8 Jan 1945||German V-2 rocket hit the junction of LMS and Met. railway lines behind 114 Iverson Road between West End Lane and Kilburn High Road in Hampstead, London, England, United Kingdom at 1630 hours. 2 were killed, 64 seriously injured, and 57 lightly injured. The rocket destroyed 14 houses, badly damaged 152 houses, and lightly damaged 1,600 houses.|
|12 Jan 1945||German V-2 rocket hit a row of cottages in Ilford, London, England, United Kingdom. 17 were killed and 60 were injured.|
|13 Jan 1945||German V-2 rocket hit West Ham, London, England, United Kingdom, destroying two trolley buses. 15 were killed and 35 were injured.|
|15 Jan 1945||German V-2 rocket hit Rainham, London, England, United Kingdom at about 2345, killing 14 and seriously injuring 4.|
|19 Jan 1945||German V-2 rocket hit Town Quay, Barking, London, England, United Kingdom at 2300 hours.|
|20 Jan 1945||Three German V-2 rocket hit London, England, United Kingdom. The first hit Potters Bar at 1100 hours, killing 21. The second hit Calton Road in East Barnet at 1315 hours, killing 12. The third hit Tottenham at 2000 hours, killing 23.|
|21 Jan 1945||Tasked with making a precision attack on V-1 launch sites in northern France, "Mickey" Martin of No. 617 Squadron (The "Old Lags" squadron because it was made up of experienced and skilled veterans who had volunteered to continue flying missions beyond the end of their normal tours) used a four-engine Lancaster bomber to dive-bomb the target in order to accurately position marker flares for the following aircraft. Pulling out of his dive at a mere 400 feet Martin so accurately placed the markers that a reconnaissance on the following day showed the target to have been completely demolished.|
|26 Jan 1945||An air burst from a German V-2 rocket over Cotswold Gardens, London, England, United Kingdom caused widespread damage. Another rocket hit Clapham, London at 1045 hours, seriously injuring 25 and lightly injuring 42. Another rocket hit Croydon, London in an open space without causing any injuries.|
|27 Jan 1945||German V-2 rocket hit the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich in southeastern London, United Kingdom at 2230 hours, killing 6 and injuring 17, causing some damage to machines.|
|2 Feb 1945||German V-2 rocket hit Deptford, London, England, United Kingdom, killing 24.|
|7 Feb 1945||German V-2 rocket hit the railway sidings near Barking Marches, London, England, United Kingdom.|
|8 Feb 1945||German V-2 rocket hit the Super Cinema in Ilford, London, England, United Kingdom at 1245 hours; 13 were killed and 64 were seriously injured, and 86 were lightly injured. Another rocket hit Tavistock Place in St Pancras, London at 1608 hours; 31 were killed and 54 were seriously injured; the Central London Opthalmic Hospital and the Medical School of the Royal Free Hospital were damaged.|
|10 Feb 1945||German V-2 rocket hit Silvertown in North Woolwich, London, England, United Kingdom just across the River Thames from the Harland and Wolff shipyard offices; many workers at Harland and Wolff were injured. Another rocket scored a direct hit on the Bascule Bridge in Woolwich at 1115 hours.|
|11 Feb 1945||German V-2 rocket hit the Glyco Works in West Ham, London, England, United Kingdom.|
|14 Feb 1945||German V-2 rocket hit the Chelmsford-to-London Road near the village of Mountnessing in Essex, England, United Kingdom at 1700 hours.|
|14 Feb 1945||German V-2 rocket hit Wormholt Road in Kensington, London, England, United Kingdom about 1 mile west of Sheperds Bush at 2200 hours, killing 29 and injuring 41.|
|16 Feb 1945||German V-2 rocket hit Crownford Road in Leyton, London, England, United Kingdom at 2345 hours, killing 25 and seriously injuring 10.|
|19 Feb 1945||German V-2 rocket hit Bawn's factory at Blackhorse Lane in Walthamstow, London, England, United Kingdom at 1420 hours. It wrecked 12 houses, damaged 500 houses, killed 18, seriously injured 53, and lightly injured 150.|
|20 Feb 1945||German V-2 rocket hit a factory Ilford, London, England, United Kingdom, killing 7 and injuring 94.|
|26 Feb 1945||German V-2 rocket hit the Northern Outfall Sewer in West Ham, London, England, United Kingdom at night.|
|27 Feb 1945||German V-2 rocket hit the Royal Albert Dock in London, England, United Kingdom in the morning.|
|6 Mar 1945||A German V-2 rocket hit Raveningham 13 miles southeast of Norwich, England, United Kingdom, causing little harm. It was the last rocket to hit the Norwich area in the war.|
|7 Mar 1945||German V-2 rocket hit Trundleys Road at Folkestone Gardens, London, England, United Kingdom at 0300 hours, killing 52 and seriously injuring 32. Two blocks of homes were destroyed.|
|11 Mar 1945||The first unexploded V-2 rocket landed in England, United Kingdom, but it was not retrieved and studied until 7 Apr, by that time other unexploded rockets had been found and many secrets of the rocket had already been uncovered.|
|15 Mar 1945||Two German V-2 rockets fell in the River Thames near the Ford factory in Dagenham, London, England, United Kingdom, causing no injuries.|
|16 Mar 1945||German V-2 rocket hit at Albert Road in Leyton, London, England, United Kingdom at 0638 hours, killing 23 and seriously injuring 18. Another rocket hit Willesden near Hampstead, London at 0230 hours, damaging 200 houses.|
|17 Mar 1945||German V-2 rocket hit 212 Finchley Road near Borough Central Library in Hampstead, London, England, United Kingdom. Aside from the library, 1,000 homes, the telephone exchange, the lighting station, Council's Work Depot, Warden's Post No. 16, and Women's Vountary Service offices were damaged. Another rocket hit the Rippleway sidings in Barking, London at 2230 hours.|
|18 Mar 1945||German V-2 rocket hit the Speaker's Corner at the edge of Hyde Park in London, England, United Kingdom at 0930 hours, killing 3 and seriously injuring 9.|
|21 Mar 1945||German V-2 rocket hit the Packard factory in London, England, United Kingdom at 0939 hours, destroying it and damaging 13 factories and 662 houses; it killed 32, seriously injured 100, and lightly injured 460. Another rocket hit Primrose Hill in St Pancras (though officially listed as in Hampstead), London, damaging the reservoir and injuring 14 people.|
|25 Mar 1945||German V-2 rocket hit Whitfield Street in St Pancras, London, England, United Kingdom in the late afternoon, killing 9 and seriously injuring 46. The Whitfield Memorial Chapel at Tottenham Court Road was badly damaged. In the evening, at 2300 hours, another rocket hit Broadfield Square in Enfield, London, killing 7 and seriously injuring 100.|
|26 Mar 1945||Two German V-2 rockets hit Romford, Essex, England, United Kingdom. The first struck Forest Road, destroying 16 buildings and killing 2. The second rocket destroyed one building named "Victory Hut" at Nook Hill.|
|27 Mar 1945||German V-2 rocket hit Ilford, London, England, United Kingdom. It was to be the last rocket to strike this suburban district of London. To date, 117 Ilford residents were killed by rockets, while 349 were seriously injured. A second V-2 rocket hit Hughes Mansions, Stepney, London, killing 134 and injuring 49.|
|30 Mar 1945||At 1243 hours, British Royal Marine anti-aircraft gunners on the gun platform 12 miles off Felixstowe (Churchill Fort) shot down the last V-1 flying bomb to be fired toward Britain.|
Did you enjoy this article? Please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 per month will go a long way! Thank you.
» Van Lierde, Remy
- » 1,044 biographies
- » 327 events
- » 35,867 timeline entries
- » 728 ships
- » 330 aircraft models
- » 184 vehicle models
- » 341 weapon models
- » 104 historical documents
- » 178 facilities
- » 458 book reviews
- » 25,147 photos
- » 289 maps
Winston Churchill, on the RAF