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Author Topic: True Stories?  (Read 23165 times)

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Offline Stewie

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Re: True Stories?
« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2009, 13:24:08 »
Peter

The following is in no way intended as a slight against yourself, but rather as an alternative view to your original thread and perhaps open to further discussion. Please do not be offended!

Whilst I agree with your sentiments concerning this testimony, I think a note of caution is also called for because the account of a memory from 60+ years ago can also be distorted by variables other than memory. Assuming that the author has not set out to deliberately mislead, then their account may have been embroidered by the reporter who recorded the statement (if this was the case) and also the use of grammar and context could distort the meaning.

For example, the memory of a bombing raid at the Luton Arches. To me the writer does not state that the raid was targeting the Arches only that a device(s) fell in the vicinity. I would imagine that if you were under an air raid with the sirens sounding, it would be very difficult to identify the actual target but you would remember a localised explosion.  Your comment concerning new buildings in this area is valid although the layout around the Arches has been significantly redeveloped since the war, and a device may not have destroyed a building. My mother told me of Bomb striking Henry Street which is nearby, if you witnessed this would it not be logical that you would assume the target was something more strategically important than a domestic dwelling?
Consider also of "stray" or opportunist bombs jettisoned by aborted raids or damaged aircratft.

The reported incident in Rainham to me does not necessarily refer to a repetition of incidents, and whilst accepting that some shot guns were held by the local farmers if I was in a field I would grab any weapon to hand if I was asked to locate an enemy pilot.
The incident in Downsview I would agree seems a bit strange if this is where they meant, and the recall of being deliberately "strafed" with that level of detail seems to have been enhanced. The reference to 'Butterfly' bombs, is perhaps a memeory of collecting lumps of shell casoing and shrapnel after the raids which is something my father claims to have done.

My point is that there may be some background to these events which with some research may be able to be back up the statements. Eye witness accounts by untrained observers will always be unreliable and if you want proof listen to a pair of football match reports given by supporters of opposing sides.
 :)

Offline Paul

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Re: True Stories?
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2009, 11:25:14 »
I know the V1s were mainly aimed at East London,Westminster and Buckingham Palace.
The Double Agents gave reports that they were overshooting and falling too far to the east.
So the settings were changed and thats why SE London got most of them.
They hit my Great Grandads favorite pub?
There was a bloke and his dog who used to shelter in the Cellar the bodies were never recovered?
The piece of land was never built on for years.Now its houses....

This may be of interest to people that moved to Kent from SE London  http://www.flyingbombsandrockets.com/V1_summary.html
Maybe it's big horse I'm a Londoner. :{

Offline peterchall

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Re: True Stories?
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2009, 10:52:41 »
Hi Paul,

It's true that many V1s coming down in Kent were shot down, but there was more to it than that. See my posting in Maidstone - WW2 Bombing. For convenience I've copied in part of it here:

"What is thought provoking is that SE England was deliberately sacrificed during the V1 (flying bomb) period. False information was fed to the Germans by captured "turned-round" agents, stating that V1s were overshooting London. This caused them to set the V1s for a shorter range, so that they fell in the more open countryside of Kent and Sussex. Good wartime tactics perhaps, but what effect would it have had on those of us living there had we known"?

As for the effect of shooting them down, here's another bit of my posting:

"A probable 'own goal' caused one of the most poignant incidents of WW2 in Kent on 30th June 1944. A flying bomb, believed shot down by AA guns, crashed on Weald House, Westerham at 3.37am, when it was occupied by 30 sleeping children all aged under 5, and 11 adults. They had been evacuated from a London County Council school that was destroyed by incendiary bombs. 22 children and 8 adults were killed, and all the rest, except for 1 adult, were injured. It was Kent's biggest loss of life from a single incident in the whole of the war".

Your comments about the German's attitude to the war are right. Leaving aside the atrocities of the Nazi regime, the German armed forces were certainly enemies to be respected and admired.

For the blitz on London the Germans didn't need to be particularly accurate; it was a big target with no particular aiming point, and the Thames and docks were unmissable guides. From the first "provincial" raid on Coventry on 14th November 1940 they used very sophisticated radio systems, and I think details of those deserve a separate posting. When I've sorted out the info I've got, I'll do that.

Re your last sentence: For God's sake don't pull the chain!
It's no use getting old if you don't get artful

Offline Paul

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Re: True Stories?
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2009, 22:41:02 »
I agree :)

To see the pilots goggles he would have to be very low and would leave himself open to small arms fire as well as AA and machine gun.No pilot would take this risk.

Most of the V1s were aimed at London the ones that hit Kent were shot down(damaged) or mailfunctioned.

German bombing was very accurate it was kept secret how accurate it was.
If they bombed Luton arches then they would have hit them.
Surely the Docks and Rochester road and rail bridges would be a better target.It would have the same effect and be harder to repair.

And Farmers had shot guns since the German pilots were armed why would they take a pitch fork.(one of the scenes in the Battle of Britan film)
The German pilots were fighting a war as far as i know they fought by choice.And were proud to do so.
As regards black parachutes only special forces were issued with them for night drops as they would have to be dyed black.

The Butterfly Bombs were designed to cause disruption and panic the theory was that a lot of small UXBs would put a strain on the sevices.
I dont think many people were killed by them once they were brought to the publics attention.

And i think ive got one in my toilet sytern :)
Maybe it's big horse I'm a Londoner. :{

Offline peterchall

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Re: True Stories?
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2009, 21:59:22 »
Thanks Chatham Girl,

I didn't realise that no flying bombs fell in Chatham. What are the odds on that, because 3 fell in Gillingham and 5 in Rochester? But there was definitely no specific raid on Luton Arches.

Regarding going to the shelters:
During the day raids of the Battle of Britain, there could be several alerts in one day, and we still had to work, go to school, etc, so spending all that time in shelters was not practical.

During the night blitz from September 1940 to May 1941 air-raid alerts would last from nightfall to dawn on most nights, so again life had to go on and we still went to the cinema and the pub. Above all, factories on night work still had to keep going - they had their own lookouts who sounded a hooter if danger threatened, when workers would seek whatever cover they could find near their workplace. Unfortunately these lookouts didn't always get it right, with tragic results! Anderson shelters were cold, damp places to sleep in the winter and many people felt this was a bigger health risk than a German bomb.

Even in London, which was the target for much of the time, people still sought places of entertainment. There was a big death toll at a dance hall - I think it was the Hammersmith Palais de Dance, and there were cases of hits on crowded restaurants. The Windmill Theatre in central London never closed except for a couple of weeks in September 1939, when the government closed all places of entertainment in the country.

If a smaller town such as Medway was attacked the bombing was much more concentrated, starting with incendiaries to light up the target, and there was no doubt about what was happening. Even then, it was DIY for putting out small fires - a single bomber could carry about 1000 incendiary bombs, beyond the capacity of the fire brigade to handle. This did happen to us one night, but fortunately something went wrong for the Germans and a big raid didn't develop.

The flying bombs came in a continuous stream on most days and air-raid warnings were pointless. But this didn't stop the sirens being sounded, nor would it stop the all-clear sounding while a flying bomb was going over!


It's no use getting old if you don't get artful

Chatham_Girl85

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Re: True Stories?
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2009, 19:38:34 »
RE the flying bomb landing in Downsview road, i agree that this is made up because in the whole of the war NOT ONE doodlebug fell on chatham.
and the bombing raid on luton arches, surely the air raid siren would've sounded and everyone should have been in a shelter


im very scepitcal about these 'memories'

seafordpete

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Re: True Stories?
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2009, 19:15:31 »
Hi Peter I agree with your comments, we have a lot of similar  dubious recollections in Newhaven. Re Butterfly bombs, after they were "starring" on the TV programme "Danger UXB" an old dear  walked into a Police Staion in Medway with one. It seems her husband had picked it up and she had kept it ever since. When released the 2 curved side  panels sprung open  and created a parachute to slow the fall, the 2 round end panels opened at opposite angles so as to create a propellor . The whole assembly slid up the stem until it reached the squared area at the end and locked. The stem then rotated arming the bomb. For some reason the one found had not fully rotated and he folded the covers back and took it home- Lucky is not the word...

Offline peterchall

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True Stories?
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2009, 17:19:03 »
I've been browsing at random through some archives and came across these memories from a Medway towns 8-year old boy. I just cannot help commenting!

QUOTE: "One time when we were walking around Gillingham, by the Avenue Nightclub, the Germans swept down with a machine gun just along the wall, the pilot was only playing with us. He had motorcycle goggles on - (they go round the side of your head - I've got some at home like that.) We waved at him."

So this lad was able to tell that the German pilot was just playing, presumably because he was near enough to see his goggles. Just to show what great fun it all was with the bullets flying around, he stayed calm enough to wave to the pilot. I can well imagine a German pilot coming low enough to play with a child, over one of the most heavily defended areas of the country!

QUOTE: "Then the most terrifying thing of all was the bombing raid at the Luton Arches, (Chatham.) - they were all around us. Several of my friends got killed; about half of them round there got killed by that one. We had two or three flying bomb attacks. I remember one that crashed in a house in Downsview Road, Chatham - we went down to see it".

If there was a bombing raid at Luton Arches (note the precision of the attack) that killed half the people round there one would expect to see some modern buildings in place of those destroyed. My wife lived in Luton during the war and can't remember it - and surely such an event would have been specifically recorded. As for the flying bomb on "Downsview" (not "Downsview Road"), it must have been circling round for a long time, because Downsview houses weren't built till 1965.

QUOTE: "I remember when the Germans were shot down over Rainham - they used to come down in black parachutes and all the farmers used to go for their pitchforks - you used a pitchfork in those days. Then they (the Germans) would say they didn't want to fight but if they didn't fight then their family was executed."

Sounds like Germans parachuting over Rainham and the farmers with their pitchforks was a regular event and, being German, the parachutes would have to be black of course. A German bomber crashed in Boundary Road on the afternoon of 15th September 1940 and I watched the crew bale-out in white parachutes.

QUOTE: "We used to have a butterfly bomb. They were dangerous. Some of my friends used to get them - I don't know where they got them from, they had them for years - I don't know whether they've still got them".

These were the original cluster bombs, recorded as first being dropped on Ipswich on 28 October 1940, and at Grimsby and Cleethorpes in 1943, and thereafter in the Middle East. They weighed 2kg and were fitted with a mixture of impact fuses, up to 30-minute delay fuses, and anti-handling fuses. This was only discovered after a dud one was recovered. After that no attempt was made to de-fuse them; they were dealt with by keeping clear of them for at least 30-minutes, then exploding them with a small charge, carefully hooking them with a piece of string and jerking it from a safe distance, or by rifle fire.
So if he or his friends had them, or even still have them, they are the luckiest people alive - someone was killed by disturbing one in Malta as late as 1981. An 11-year old boy in Malta found one as recently as 29th October this year, but fortunately he didn't touch it.

I'm aware that it's easy to substitute imagination for memory when telling a story from your dim and distant past, but I think this is going too far and the Archive keepers should check carefully, because this sort of thing casts doubt on the credibility of other accounts.

SD2 Bomblet

                                            
These may still be found today. Should you find one of these evil little devices today PLEASE leave it alone, do not allow anyone near it and call the Police on 999 who will call the nearest Bomb Disposal Experts to deal with it. If one of these caught in a tree, merely swinging in the breeze could set it off, and it will kill at up to 25 metres.
It's no use getting old if you don't get artful

 

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