|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" is 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 log of every V2 visit the excellent WRS online the V2
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, or 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 in the blast which reduced rows of houses to the
appearance of a battle field.
For the first time, people heard the distinctive sound of the V2. Firstly the explosion, then 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 there were no casualties.
The V2 Rockets had been known about by British Intelligence for some time but it had been
assumed the launch sites had been overrun after 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 at Arnhem. The V2 launch sites pulled
back further and the missiles were only able to reach East Anglia
|On the 5th October the V2 attacks started again on London 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
|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 destructive weapon.
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 were in South East 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, and short falling missiles tended to hit the east side.
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 were carried out at a vigorous pace after the
V1's but a massive back-log remained 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 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. Reports from a number of witnesses tell
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 rocket 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 spun round
causing yet more deaths and injuries,i ts occupants were seen, still sitting in their seats covered in
There were piles of masonry and pieces of bodies all around, where Woolworth's had been now an
enormous gap. The debris stretched from the town hall to New Cross Gate station and it took 3 days
to clear this and retrieve 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
|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 were Jewish
|Worst V2 incidents in part of South London studied