- Contributed by
- People in story:
- terry fitzpatrick
- Location of story:
- Greenford Middx.
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 08 December 2003
V1 on Greenford Middx.
Date -- 1945 Feb/March
Impact point -- Building 416 at north end of present-day Derby Road, Greenford, Ealing
Having been posted to the Greenford Army Depot in May 1944 the daily dose of flying bombs had become a 'normal' feature of life. We would hear them in the distance and were accustomed to the cut-out and then the crump of the explosion. One I remember interrupted the conversation, for a moment or two, in the bar-buffet on Waterloo Station - while waiting for a weekend leave train.
As far as we were affected in Greenford, most doodlebugs petered out well before we got too concerned. The rescue services used to reckon they would drive out along Western Avenue to watch them until they cutout and then track their glide path to the final location.
But eventually our day came. Air raid drill was to cower down beneath the solid timber benches on which we worked to repair/maintain telecomm apparatus [see personal note below]. When danger was not too close this sheltering was a not bad experience as I worked in a group with four ATS women !
On the day of the hit we took cover and waited. This time it got serious. We heard the famous duff motor bike noise -- and it cut out ! The whistling noise -- and then the loudest crashing bang and pressure shock. The roof of the workshop lifted bodily and fell back on its walls -- shooting years of dust and debris throughout the place.
We seemd to get ourselves together and all stumbled out into the open air without much but scratches, choking and shock.
Outside was chaos. It was a direct hit on the adjacent building -- walls blown out and roof demolished. Casualties were limited to the unlucky four or five who worked in this store building [ we would have suffered worse as there were some 40/50 in our workplace]. We did have one fatality however and this was poor old Paddy, our workshop handyman who had been on his usual shortcut past the back of the flattened store shed with the morning tea trolley -- not good.
The overall bombsite scene was quite surreal as the store had contained a large number of recoil springs for 25-pounder guns -- each spring being some 200mm diameter and about 1.5m long. They had dispersed everywhere, probably bouncing away after the upheaving. Perhaps the springs also saved us from some of the blast effects [one large spring lost its inertia in demolishing my bicycle] .
We all left the depot to recuperate for the rest of the day. I guess I was pretty disturbed by the event as, later in the day, I remember finding myself in Holy Cross church [ strange for a non-believer ].
As for chance, luck or whatever, I often wonder how much sidewind would have been needed to change the course of the V1 so that it landed just 30 metres to the north at the end of its 100-mile-plus trajectory -- to make the writing of these comments very unlikely !
Personal note -- at the time I was a REME Apprentice Tradesman, age 17. We had been evacuated from our training school in the Berkshire countryside as it was required as a D-Day hospital. Not many people were evacuated into London I guess !
We were also shunted from schooling into virtually unpaid factory-type work -- working a repeating schedule of a seven day week followed by a five day week -- then a bonus two days off. As I recall we were back to work the day after the incident to get things back to normal operation.
© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.