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15 October 2014
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V1 on Greenfordicon for Recommended story

by tfitzp

Contributed by 
tfitzp
People in story: 
terry fitzpatrick
Location of story: 
Greenford Middx.
Background to story: 
Army
Article ID: 
A2117855
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.

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These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - V1

Posted on: 09 December 2003 by paul gill - WW2 Site Helper

Thanks for your story.
There are quite a few V1 stories on site and all very interesting. There's only one other very near miss though!

I particularly liked the story of a gunner who was refused a drink in the local pub in Lamberhurst for shooting them down in their area!

A2102086

Hopefully we won't see anything like it again.
I don't know how repeatable the V1 trajectory was. If I remember rightly they do calculate accuracy as a circle where there is a 50% chance of the missile or shell landing. Someone on the general research desk may be able to advise.

Things which are so obvious to people like yourself are a surprise to me, ..evidence of a culture change and that's why these stories are important. I learned that some people worked a 7 day week then 5 days.
I'd also assumed that the V1 engine cut out immediately. Did it splutter?

School leavers don't get much pay even now. Do you think they got a smaller percentage of adult pay than say after the war or now?

best wishes

paul

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