Sunday, 3 May 2009

DoodleBugs, V2 Rockets and the Anderson Shelter

Back home in Hathaway Road, Croydon and a new phase in the war: the terror weapons.

Adolf was now changing tack. He wants to scare we Brits into submission with his new V-weapons: V for Vengeance weapons. Night after night the sirens would wail and we all scuttle out of our warm(ish) beds into the dark and chill night, heading for the Anderson shelter, dug into our back garden by Dad and neighbours. Frequently, the earth floor of the shelter would have a couple of inches of water on it and the canvas bunk beds were damp and uncomfortable. Seldom would we actually go to sleep in these corrugated steel hovels; their main comfort was our faith that we were safer in them than in our house. I wonder if it would have made much difference had one of those V1s had hit our place? Had a V2 struck the house then the Anderson shelter would have also been blown to kingdom come!

After a while we gave up our scampering into the dank environs of the garden shelter and simply cowered in our beds. Listening to the staccato or spluttering jet engine of the doodlebug, knowing we were safe as long as the engine didn't cut out. If it did, as frequently happened, we just hoped it would not drop on our house!

One night we had our closest shave with death and disaster: a V2 rocket had hit Spurgeons Bridge, about a thousand yards from our house. The frightening blast of this monstrous weapon shook us - physically and mentally. You got no warning that these deadly rockets were coming. The first you knew was when they exploded like an earthquake, shaking the foundations of everything nearby the point of impact. Terror weapons par excellence, no doubt about that!

Croydon had more V1 hits than any other town or city in England. Fortunately, the RAF spitfires and also the heavy artillery guns destroyed a good number of these flying bombs before they got too far inland otherwise I might not now be tapping out this blog!

This was Hitler's final throw of the dice; his vengeance weapons lasted a relatively short time and soon the war would be over. But it would still be a hard life for some years to come.

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