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DOODLE BUGS OVER KENT

Observer Corp

 

V1 Doodlebug

Living beneath the corridor taken by the V1 “Doodlebugs” in the final stages of the 2nd world war was often a thrill seeking experience for young farmer Cyril Skinner.

He recalled," I would see as many as five or six of these terrifying machines roar across the landscape every day en-route for London."

It was on a clear warm day in early August 1944, after finishing feeding a flock of pullets in the orchard just below the farm when once again I heard the all too familiar drone of a V1. As I moved to gain a clear view I was aware of the additional sound of two radial engines. As an active member of the Observer Corps and a keen aircraft enthusiast, I knew these could only belong to the Hawker Tempest. With a top speed in excess of 400 mph the Tempest Mk 11 was the only fighter at that time capable of matching and engaging the V1's.

Within ten seconds or so, the trio had broken tree cover at about two hundred feet. The Tempest's combined fire-power of eight 20mm cannon had already taken their toll on the now ailing and headed my way V1. I remember having a very nasty feeling its journey was about to be cut short, and at this stage could only hope my life would not share the same fate. Suddenly the drone of the ram jet stopped, and the nose dipped, the fighters swiftly peeled away,  within a second it had almost silently covered the field I stood in and disappeared into the wood a couple of hundred yards away. I stood fascinated as leaves and branches were blasted high into the air, and then quickly dropped to the ground lying as flat as possible. After an earth shaking bang and shock-wave that rendered a dozen or so pullets around me unconscious I stood and made my way to back to the farmhouse.

V1 “Doodlebug”

The blast had removed several large areas of roof tiles, but more noticeable were the frail old leaded light windows, which had been blown in, then almost sucked out. I suppose it was the local council,       who came in a very short time and covered the openings with a heavy bitumised paper. After checking on the family I headed eagerly down to the wood.

A large area had been stripped clean and only the larger oaks albeit shaved of bark remained. The hot twisted wreckage lay a few feet from the crater, and I well remember pouring some warm water over it, and watching the steam rise.

In the following days we lost three or four cows due to a high tensile wire that was wound around the compressor of the V1, the explosion fragmented this, showering the grass for hundreds of yards with lethal short strands which were eaten by the poor unsuspecting beasts.

 
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