Towards the end of the war, Germany unleashed another secret weapon in the form
of the V2. This was a very different device. It was "rocket powered" and had a faster,
higher and steeper approach than the V1. This made defence measures impossible
and there was no real warning.
Brian Smith has provided some background for this later and potentially more
Background to the V2
At 6.40pm on 8th September 1944, the first V2 to hit any part of
Kent landed in Orpington (part of Kent in London). Ironically, the last rocket to hit Britain also fell in the
Orpington area on the 27th March 1945.
A total of 67 V2 rockets fell in the part of Kent outside London. Whitstable’s share was 2.
Flying faster than the speed of
sound, the explosion on impact preceded the sound of the rockets approach
– not unlike an express steam train.
The sole defence against the V2
was prevention by eliminating the launch sites. However, they were easily launched from mobile platforms which,
apart from their mobility, were small and difficult to detect.
The super sonic nature of the V2 caused some
unusual effects and memories for those who survived an attack. Geoff Kemp
|The scary thing about the V-2 was that the noise
of its arrival followed the local explosion so we all thought another
one was en route!
Conversely, those who died probably never knew
anything about the attack.
We understand that there were only two
strikes on Whitstable. The most well known was the device that fell in London's Field between Seymour Avenue
and the old Whitstable-Canterbury railway line.
Fortunately, it didn't land directly on houses. However,
there were casualties and nearby
residences suffered damage including my grandparents home in Railway Avenue
which faced the field on the other side of the rail track. The house lost all
So large was the explosion that it's impact was
felt across town. It even caused considerable disquiet a quarter of a mile away at several local
Regarding Bill Dancer's
account of V1 (some say it was a V2, it was late in the war) in
I lived in Thurston Park, but I was at the St. Alphege Infants
School (Mrs. Cooks?) next to the railway bridge.
I must have been about 6 years old at the time. I remember we used
to practice, on command , diving under our desks. On that day, we got
the command and dived under our desks. There was a loud noise, the world
shook and a large piece of plaster fell from the ceiling onto our desks.
The thing that often puzzles me is how I got home. I used to walk
to school. They must have said ‘you had better go home’ .
So I must have walked home. When I got home, all the windows had
been blown out and half the roof was missing.
|I was in Mr McKenna's class when that V2 arrived. My
ruler jumped about a foot high as my desk shot forward. The desk
returned, the ruler fell back in place, the ceiling fell in as we all
dived under our desks. I recall a white powder coated McKenna still
standing before us looking rather surprised). That V2 was reputedly only
|On another subject, Stan mentioned the day the V2 fell in Londons
Field at the back of Seymour Avenue. I was in Mrs.Holman's class at
Frank Newsome's school at the time and part of the ceiling fell in.
We lived in Old Bridge Road during the war
& I was only a baby but my Mum told me I was asleep in my cot when a
bomb fell nearby & when she dashed upstairs all the windows had
smashed but the curtains had been closed & had protected me from the
Jackie Perry nee Giani
|I can’t remember the exact date the V-2 hit but I was at school
and like one of your other contributors, I remember being hustled under
the desks at Westmeads.
I remember the V2 very clearly. My mother was expecting and I
was sent out for the day in the care of a dentist's wife. There was a
huge explosion and the road was full of bricks and tiles - and, then, I
got the good news. My sister had been born.
So I remember the date 15 January but my knowledge of biology
remained a bit shaky for many years.
|"I remember the V2 rocket which fell behind Downs Avenue
and Douglas Avenue houses. I believe it may have been on a
Monday morning. I was working in Woolworths at the time and
when the V2 came down, Woolworths plate glass windows remained
intact but the blast shattered the windows of Reeves Estate Agents
The Woolworth staff who lived in Douglas
and Downs Avenue were allowed to go home to see if their families
My mother, Harriet Miles, was
hanging out her washing at 23 Belmont Road and the blast swung her
round the clothes post.
Mollie Fallon (nee Miles)
London - formerly Whitstable
The effects were even felt a considerable distance inland..... as far away as South Street....
pieces of the V2 that landed in Jack London's field were actually
heard falling near South Street Railway Crossing by my mother and
retrieved by me after school.
The explosion caused some debate in our Visitors Book.... on the
subject of whether it was a V1 or V2.
In the 'Wartime'
material, there are 3 postings
referring to the London Field V2 as a V1. They are, Brian Elsey's,
mine and Bill Dancer's.
Both Bill & I have referred to it elsewhere
as a V2 which was officially confirmed. The thought, by some, that it
may have been a V1 possibly stemmed from the low level of both the
explosion and damage done.
That was officially credited to the smaller than
usual amount of explosive used - it was commonly said to have been
only 'half charged' as a result of Germany running out of explosive.
Quite some years ago, I read that the low charge
was most likely a result of sabotage - by the crews responsible
for loading the charge due (some claim) to a growing belief that
the War was lost.
Thus, Whitstable sampled the range of civilian horrors
but without the intensity or the massive casualties of more significant
targets. In this respect, it provided local residents with a window on
the war and sufficient evidence to ponder wider issues.
As far as the V2 was concerned, there was much to
ponder. Here, we had the forerunner of the inter-continental
ballistic weapon... and one that gave no warning and no opportunity
for defensive measures. It's sheer power meant that it could cause
widespread damage when "half charged" and dropped in a field
of a small town.
It is also relevant to consider that WWII scientists
were engaged in a race to produce the first atomic weapon. Such a device
combined with rocket powered delivery would have provided Hitler with
the means for victory.
Fortunately, the V2 came at the end of the war and
Germany failed to produce an atomic device. However, it is worth
considering that some scientists who worked on the nuclear project in the
United States were probably Jewish people who had fled Europe. It is a
touch of irony and justice that they were forced there by a man whose
prejudice and warped views meant that he placed no value on them. In
effect, his own evil curbed his ambitions. There is an irony and a sense
of justice in that.
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