V1 Explosion, Woodland Lane, Shorne, 3rd August 1944

While I was working on the Oral History for SWAG I met a few of the older Shorne residents and was told about the V1 that landed on an army hut behind the houses, on the west side of Woodland Lane, killing two soldiers.

I tried to find out more information, without any success so decided that I’d contact the owner to ask whether I could go and have a look. I eventually traced the owner’s parents, who gave me their son’s telephone number so I was able to contact him and gain his permission.

When I visited the site, there were six concrete bases, five were intact and one that only half was left, so the story of a direct hit appeared to be true. I contacted the owner again to ask whether he would agree to an archaeological investigation being carried out and permission was granted and we started work.

Excavation took place between 6th November 2010 to 4th June 2011. We began by clearing the five intact bases, photographing and recording as we went. The site had been very well cleaned and very few artifacts were found. There was some metal work that had been buried and one piece turned out to be a wing spar from the V1. The only personal artefacts were a tin of Dubbin (a wax product for cleaning and water proofing leather, that was still in a useable condition after 67 years and a button stick, used to put behind buttons when polishing them, that had been broken and twisted by the explosion.

There are no clear photographs of the huts but this one from Google Earth 1940 (actually 1946) shows the buildings. There is a block of six buildings close together, moving from east to west, the first for buildings show as being white and the final two as grey.  

The building that was hit is at the top left-hand corner of the block and the building below also showed some damage.  When we started excavating, we soon found the crater by the pebbles that  were fragmented by the explosion. The crater was not more than 1.5 metres deep, which seems strange from a flying bomb with a tonne of explosives on board. On researching, I found that the V1 was designed as a blast weapon and this was proven to be the case as windows were blown out from houses 200 metres away and shrapnel embedded in trees up to 100 metres away.

I went to the National Records Office at Kew and found the ‘Bomb census’ of the incident, it happened at 3.50am on the 3rd August 1944, a V1 exploded on a Nissan hut, six military killed and minor damage to property was reported. After the war one property had to be demolished as it was so badly damaged. The story of two soldiers being killed was not true!

Further research enabled me to find the ‘War Diary’ that showed six Pioneer Corps soldiers were killed, who were stationed there, to support the mobile Anti-Aircraft guns, that were kept on lorries at the top of Woodlands Lane, ready to be called out when required.

The six buildings were within the area of – 69025E to 69073E and 70552N to 70524N.

(Trevor R. Bent, March 2021)

                            

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