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15 October 2014
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The First V1 bomb

by Rutland Memories

Contributed by 
Rutland Memories
People in story: 
Iris Hay
Location of story: 
Grove Road, Bow, London E3
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A3641492
Contributed on: 
09 February 2005

The Germans’ Second World War V1s, pilotless planes designed to explode on impact, and nicknamed ‘doodle-bugs’, first fell in London on Grove Road, Bow, London about half-past four in the morning of 13th June 1944.

Herbert Morrison, Minister for Home Security, forbade any immediate mention of the bombs in the Press lest the Germans realized how much damage they had caused. Their arrival meant that Britain’s Air defence was useless.

I was at home asleep but rudely awakened by the explosion when this incident happened, my Mum and Dad also. After shaking off the soot from chimneys and plaster from ceilings, and patching up the shattered windows, we went to see what had happened. Resting on the damaged railway bridge was the ‘plane’, and the ARP and Civil Defence etc were all searching for the missing pilot! Then it was off to another day’s work.

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Message 1 -

Posted on: 09 February 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Iris

This is a very interesting recollection, and your memory is indeed of the very first V1 to strike London.

However, the V1 was the first rudimentary guided missile, not a pilot-less plane. After the impact and explosion you say that "Resting on the damaged railway bridge was the ‘plane’, and the ARP and Civil Defence etc were all searching for the missing pilot". What you term the 'plane' was in fact the body of the guided missile, parts of which would vaporise the remaining fragments being scattered over a wide area, just like a conventional high-explosive bomb.

The Germans were well aware of the damage which would be caused, tests easily determined that. The reason for not divulging information, augmented by feeding back false information, was to make the Germans believe that they had not got the range right. Because of this effective misinformation (and air defensive measures) of the 9,250 V1's fired against London, less than 2,500 reached their target.

You also say that "Their arrival meant that Britain’s Air defence was useless". This was far from being the case, Britain's air defences were very effective against the V1: about 2,000 were destroyed by anti-aircraft gunfire, 2,000 by fighter planes, and almost 300 by barrage balloons. Against the V2, however, there was absolutely no defence.

Kind regards,

Peter

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V-1s and V-2s Category
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