If the Nazis could have chosen a target none would have been better than the Guards Chapel.
It was the home of the  Royal Guardsmen based at the Wellington Barracks.
The church was packed that morning with Guardsmen, and their families and friends. Just past 11.00  a.m.  Just after the
service started, the congregation heard a distant buzzing. It gradually grew louder and turned into a roar overhead which
drowned out the hymn singing. The engine cut out and the V1 glided down and exploded on the roof of the chapel
The Guards Chapel Tragedy
The attack resumed with full force on the 15th June, but this time with a much increased launch rate. What had been a joke
"Hitler's secret weapon " was now generating fear and terror in Londoners. By the weekend of the 17th -18th June up to 60
V1's a day were reaching the capital.  Over the weekend of 17th and 18th June 45 V1's were to strike in the South London
area  that I have researched  killing 200 people.
Serious incidents were occurring in all London boroughs although, as would be the case throughout the campaign South and
South East London took the brunt of the attack.
On Sunday 18th June a flying bomb hit one side of Hungerford rail bridge demolishing some of  the tracks. This was the
500th V1 launched. Later that morning a further bomb
impacted in Rutherford Street Westminster killing 10 people, and
demolishing two blocks of flats But far worse was to come later that morning.
If the Luftwaffe could have chosen a target none would have been better than the Guards Chapel.
It stood in
Bird Cage Walk, St James and was the home of the  Royal Guardsmen based at the Wellington Barracks.
The church was packed that morning with Guardsmen, their families and friends. Just past 11.00  a.m.  Not long after the
service started, the congregation heard a distant buzzing. It gradually grew louder and turned into a roar overhead which
drowned out the hymn singing. The engine cut out and the V1 glided down and hit the roof of the chapel. This was made of
concrete, having been rebuilt after damage by incendiary bombs in the blitz. The V1 exploded on impact and the whole roof
collapsed on the congregation. Rubble was piled up to 10 foot deep in parts.
121 military and civilians were killed and 141 seriously injured. Only the Bishop of Maidstone, who was conducting the
service was totally unhurt. The altar from which he was conducting the service was covered by a portico which sheltered
him from the blast.
Legend has it that after the explosion the alter candles were still burning.
It took 2 days to dig the dead and injured out of the devastation. News of this awful tragedy was suppressed at the time
although rumours of the disaster soon spread across London. It was a graphic illustration at an early stage of the attacks
what a V1 could do and ,in terms of lives lost was the worst V1 disaster. You can visit the poignant guards chapel today
which was re-built in the 1960's to a 1950's design. The portico which sheltered the Bishop of Maidstone survived and
forms part of the re-built structure.
The Guards chapel 18th June 1944
Next  : Read about The Aldwych disaster
Next  : Read about The
Aldwych disaster