|By September 1944 most of the Flying Bombs were being shot down before they reached London. On the 7th September
Minister of Works Duncan Sandys famously proclaimed that the "Battle of London" was over. One day later a huge explosion
blasted Staveley Road in Chiswick. There was no warning, no air raid siren. This was something new.
For a complete log of where every V2 fell visit the excellent WRS online the V2 Rocket.
also check out here for a complete map of all the V2 strikes
|On the 8th September 1944 a huge explosion rocked Staveley Road Chiswick in south west London.
There was no siren, no warning. This was the first ballistic missile, Hitler's much vaunted V2 Rocket. It weighed 13 tons and
arrived via the stratosphere at 3,000 miles an hour.
3 People died and 17 were seriously injured which reduced rows of houses to the appearance of a battle field.
Londoners for the first time heard the distinctive sound of the V2. Firstly the explosion,secondly the roar of the rocket
motors catching up (because the sound travelled slower than that of the supersonic Rocket) and lastly the noise of the sonic
boom from the upper atmosphere. The noise could be heard all over the capital.
A second V2 hit Epping at around the same time but fortunately in this case there were no casualties.
The V2 Rockets had been known about by British Intelligence for some time but it had been assumed that the launch sites
had been overrun by the Allied invasion of Normandy. A wave of optimism swept the country as it was assumed that
Germany would capitulate at any time. The V2 Attacks continued until the 18th September by which time about 14 had
fallen on the London area,when they abruptly stopped because of the Allied Operation Market Garden at Arnem. The V2
launch sites pulled back further and the missiles were only able to reach East Anglia
|On the 3rd October, the V2 attacks on London re-commenced, with the first one falling in Wanstead. The Nazi's were able to
do this because of the Allied failure at Arnhem and the subsequent opportunity for them to re- position their rocket units in the
Hague. It was not until 10th November that Churchill admitted that "we are under attack again" and the press were finally able
to give details
|The attacks continued at a steady rate until the last missile in March 1945.
The highest amount of V2's in the part of South London that I have studied was 12 in the week commencing
1st January 1945. In spite of the lower numbers of the V2's compared to the V1, it was a terrifying and
Because of the lack of warning the V2 delivered death from the sky without any chance of shelter or
protection. There was little point in using Anderson or Morrison shelters as the V2's penetrating capabilities
rendered them useless. Only the deepest tube stations or deep level shelters could be considered totally safe.
The V2, although less in number, was a much deadlier weapon than the V1. The Death rate per missile for the
V1 was 2.70 but for the V2 11.06 (figures for S.London area of Study)
This was a result of the missiles penetration and concentrated blast which caused much greater destruction at
the epicentre than the V1, as well as the lack of warning. The V2 made a crater sometimes ten feet deep. It
caused an earthquake effect which cracked washbasins a 1/4 of a mile away. Even a few miles away
floorboards shuddered,window frames shook and clouds of soot blew out of fireplaces
The brunt of the V1 attacks had been in South London. The focus now shifted and the East and North
Eastern side were the worst hit with Ilford recording the highest total (35) but South East London was still to
endure a considerable amount of V2's. This distribution of missiles was due to the launch being from the
Netherlands, from the East and short-falling Rockets therefore struck that side of London.
Londoners were blasted out of their homes in some cases time and time again during the Flying bomb period,
and now this new terror arrived. They were tired, weary and it was now cold. Tens of thousands of people
had no roofs, no windows, no running water. Repairs had been carried out at a vigorous pace after the V1
attacks but there was a massive back log and many waited months for glass in their windows or tiles on their
Large numbers fell ill with Flue and other Winter illnesses. During the Blitz there had been a sense of
community, a stoic attitude, Britain at its finest hour. The V2 attacks caused a different response. Londoners
were terrified. One contemporary report describes "Brixton women preying in the street for the war to stop."
The Rocket attacks, the final terror, continued until March 1945 when the allied advances into Europe
curtailed them. Up to the end a steady rate of missiles struck with a relentless death toll.
|This was the worst tragedy of the entire V weapon attacks- Contemporary reports from a number of witnesses indicate that
the V2 was seen in its last moments of flight, a line drawn across the grey November sky.
The store bulged outwards and then imploded and in the carnage 168 people were killed and 121 were seriously injured.
As the store exploded there was blinding flash of light and an enormous roar followed by a dense cloud of smoke and
powdered dust. Witnesses several hundred yards away felt the warm blast on their faces,some were physically pushed
backward by its force. The Co-Op Store next door also collapsed killing more people inside. The bodies of passers by were
flung for great distances, and an Army lorry was overturned and destroyed killing its occupants. A double decker bus was
spun round causing yet more deaths and injuries,its occupants were seen still sitting in their seats covered in dust..
There were piles of masonry and pieces of bodies all around, where Woolworth's had been was just an enormous gap.
The debris stretched from the Town Hall to New Cross Gate station and it was to take 3 days to clear this and to retrieve
all the bodies from the debris. Today the site has been totally re-developed but the extent of the damage area can be seen
from where the new buildings commence both in the New Cross Road and in surrounding streets. Lewisham council have
erected a blue plaque on the building to commemorate the tragedy.
|Hughes Mansions 30th March 1945
|This V2 at 07.20 in the Morning
was the last one to hit London
and also one of the most deadly.
It totally destroyed one of the
blocks at Hughes Mansion.
Residents were at home having
breakfast and the death toll was
134. The majority of the victims
|Below are the worst V2 incidents by death toll for the area I have analised : Croydon,
Beckenham, Lambeth,Lewisham, Penge, Southwark, Deptford,Bermondsey, Dulwich and
Camberwell, Wandsworth (old borough boundaries)