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The Rocket - a schoolboy's memory:

by mrBarnabus

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
mrBarnabus
People in story: 
Mr Barnabus and his brother
Location of story: 
Acle, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A7607135
Contributed on: 
07 December 2005

I have always been a bit mystified by a particular incident in my young life,the which, although it is true had no particular significance, or indeed had any lasting effect upon me, has, nevertheless left me wondering if it really happened at all, or was this perhaps only something my youthful imagination had dreamed up.

After all, as far as I can remember,this event took place during a time when so many exciting things were actually taking place in the real world, that it places this particular recollection, now so distant in time, that sometimes I feel it could well merge into the background, and could become no more than part of the fabric of those exciting days.

That is until a few days ago, I picked up a copy of the *EDP'Sunday'(25th Sept 2004) recounting the advent of Hitler's V2's, in the autumn of 1944, in this part of our own beloved country. Then with mounting interest I read of the details of this monstous weapon, its origin, subsequent developement and use. What I had long considered as being as much of my immagination as anything was suddenly being stated as fact. So, after all, there had been a German V2 rocket which had landed just short of Acle, near Great Yarmouth in East Anglia, and it was a V2 rocket that was responsible for the enormous crater which we as boys gazed at in wonder all those years ago.

As I remember it, my brother and I had set out on what,I at least,considered to be a rather daring cycle ride from Yarmouth to the city of Norwich twenty miles distant.

However,having taken the old Filby road out of Yarmouth, thus avoiding the more direct, but boring, straight road to Acle, and having stopped more than once to explore items of interest along the way, it seemed time and distance overcame our original aim, and we eventually considered it would be a better plan to turn at Acle and take the usually considered, on cycle without gears! the formidable 'Acle straight' home again. This was a good eight miles, running virtually straight across marsh land, but we would have the advantage of a westerly wind on our backs, and, that, I believe, finally clinched our decision.

What was our suprise, soon after leaving Acle, ahead of us we could make out some large lorries and a crowd of workmen, then, getting closer, adjacent to a short belt of trees, we realised they were busy filling in, what I seem to remember as an absolutely enormous hole, which, having removed a section of the roadway,it continued into the field beyond. Quite facinated by this huge crater, we knew, somehow, that this was something different to what the usual bombs accomplished, having seen at close hand a lot of the local Yarmouth bomb and incendiary damage.
And also the areas of damage that the V1's were shown to make, when they landed.

Probably the appearence of two schoolboys turning up on well-worn bicycles came as a bit of a diversion, for we were promptly surrounded by a number of grave faced workmen and supervisors who informed us we had no right to be there in the first place, and in any case, it was quite impossible to get by at all, and therefore we would have to go back.

This of course was seen as a challenge, however, as was usual in the circumstances, we humbly agreed and turned around to cycle back again as sensibly advised . . .
After a few yards, seeing they had lost interest in us, at my brothers sugestion, we moved quietly sideways into the cover on the northern side of the road, aforded by some foliage and trees, pushed our bicycles through and circumvented the crater area without to much trouble.

I believe some one called out to us, as soon as we managed to get back to the road. However, by this time we had passed the hole with its accompaying activity, therefore jumped back on our bicycles and cycled like mad, till we felt ourselves safe from any possible pursuit.

When we reached home and recounted all this to our parents, and any others who would listen to our tale, not a soul accepted that this crater was made by anything more than the usual V1's, the 'Doodle-bug', which, of course, every one knew about. Most people, at that stage, were not yet aware of the existence of the V2's.

My brother, at fourteen being two years older, and somewhat more worldly wise, knew this was far to large a hole for a V1; it was just to vast altogether.
Yet we never had anyone accept our account, or ever heard anyone mention this event occuring so close to Acle, well, that is until picking up the *EDP'Sunday' a few days ago.

It now occurs to me, has any good soul ever researched the even lesser known V3?
Now that really was quite incredible, and we can thank the good Lord, (and a certain Barnes Wallace) that the V3 was destroyed before they were able to wreak havoc on our country.
* EDP - Eastern Daily Press
Footnote

I have worked out the location, as recollected, and as related to the above narrative, viz: 'the cover on the northern side of the road, created by some foliage and trees'and I estimate this to be at Grid Ref. TG408103. I remember the road, with its huge crater, lying adjacent to this area of small trees and bushes, these giving us sufficient cover to work through, before they petered out beyond the damaged roadway in the Yarmouth direction. This location places the impact less than a half mile out of Acle.

Having checked with my brother, he remembers the occasion quite well, confirming his impression of this having to be a V2. He placed the actual point of impact slightly more to the south of the road,and the number of people present at 40.

Incidentally, on checking with the OS maps, I found that this green area - 'the cover on the northern side of the road, created by some foliage and trees' - is not marked on OS 'Landranger Series of Great Britain' Scale: 1:50 000 (1 & 1/4 inches to mile).

But later, found this to be clearly marked on the larger scale; OS 'Pathfinder Series of Great Britain' Scale: 1:25 000 (2 & 1/2 inches to mile) Ref:TG 41/51.

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