6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Kent Life today CLICK HERE

Discover the heart of Kent

PUBLISHED: 15:41 21 May 2016 | UPDATED: 15:41 21 May 2016

V1 crash locations in Kent, 1944, courtesy of Kent Messenger Group

V1 crash locations in Kent, 1944, courtesy of Kent Messenger Group

Archant

In Kent Life’s sixth visit to the centre of our county in International Map Year, we discuss Doodle Bugs and look at V1 Crash Locations in Kent in 1944.

Kent’s location at the narrowest point of the English Channel means that it has been in the front line in many wars, from the Romans onwards. And 72 years ago this month the skies of Kent were filled with a new threat, in the form of the unmanned V1 Doodle Bug flying bomb. This is the basis of this month’s map.

Between September 1940 and May 1941, London, along with many other British cities, including Canterbury, was subjected to intense bombing by the German Luftwaffe.

Kent was in the front line, with the air battle raging overhead, and bombers dumping any unused bombs across our county as they 
returned from their raids. While London was the objective for much of this activity, parts of Kent were also targeted. Strategic locations such as Dover, the Medway towns and Ashford were attacked, but Canterbury was also hit badly, part of the infamous Baedeker Raids launched in retaliation for the RAF bombing of historically important cities such as Lübeck. These raids were aimed not at military nor strategic sites, but at cultural heritage and based on locations listed as three star in the Baedeker Guide.

In the summer of 1944, London was subjected to a second Blitz. But instead of conventional bombs, the weapons took the form of unmanned V1 Doodle Bug flying bombs, mainly launched from south of Calais and aimed at London.

They were fairly simple devices, being designed to fly in a set direction for a set distance before the engine would cut out, causing the machine to drop out of the sky onto whoever or whatever was below.

Surely the majority of Men of Kent and Kentish Men have heard stories of these devices droning overhead, or even have memories themselves.

One of my grandfathers was a member of the Herne Bay Home Guard and remembers one that was flying over the town when its engine cut out, indicating that it was about to drop.

As it started to descend the wind caught it and carried it into the fields beyond the town (possibly near what is now Thornden Close), where it crashed harmlessly. A very religious man, I remember him telling me that it was God who had saved the town from being hit.

In September 1944, as the Doodle Bug threat was being removed by the advance of the Allied armies in France, the Kent Messenger published a map showing where flying bombs had “crashed” in Kent (see kentmessenger.newsprints.co.uk/view/11072013/doodlebug map layers_jpg).

Some of these would have crashed due to a mechanical failure, but the majority would have been brought down by anti-aircraft guns, barrage balloons or RAF fighters, which would bravely fly up to the bombs and tip them with their own wing tips. As indicated on the map, so many bombs were brought down over Kent that the area was dubbed Bomb Alley.

However, after studying the old black and white print I wanted to try recreating it using modern, computerised, techniques to enhance it to give a more vivid impression of what was happening in Kent at this time.

The first step was to scan the paper map into the Geographical Information System program for creating maps on the computer. Once this had been done, I was able to copy each crash site as an individual point. The software was then able to generate a density, or Hot Spot map, which I have superimposed onto the original image. Red (Hot) areas have the greatest density of crash sites, while the blue areas have the lowest.

This map shows that Bomb Alley was not all of Kent, but the south and west of the county. Intriguingly, the Heart of Kent (shown on the map as a black dot), near Lenham, sits right on the cusp of the two areas with the areas to the north and east seeming to be relatively peaceful.

I must say that my grandfather always felt that he had done his bit, spending many freezing cold nights on patrol, waiting to meet a German invasion, seeing and hearing bombers, and even a Doodle Bug or two, coming and going.

However, I can’t help feeling that he was, in fact, just about as safe as someone could be in our battered county.

Pinpointing the centre

“Imagine cutting out a map of Kent and trying to balance it on a pin. When it is perfectly balanced, you would have found the county’s centre of gravity.

The centre is found at TQ 902 514 on the OS map, just to the south east of Lenham, and on the Stour Valley Walk. This is based on the map of Kent with Medway. Another option could be to calculate the centre Kent based on its population (which pulls the centre of gravity towards Medway), and results in a centre at TQ 868 596, close to Bicknor (south of Sittingbourne).”

Prof. Peter Vujakovic, Canterbury Christ Church

w

More from Out & About

Wed, 16:32

Enjoy a delicious lunch or a few cosy drinks after one of these countryside strolls. Here are five great pub walks in Kent

Read more

With high-speed rail links, a rejuvenated high street and £590m worth of investment in new developments, Ashford’s expansion continues

Read more
January 2019
Thursday, January 10, 2019

The elusive snowdrop can be hard to find and before you know it, they’re gone again, so we saved you the trouble and found some beautiful spots in Kent to go for a walk among the snowdrops

Read more

This scenic small town is regularly voted one of the best places to live in the country. Here’s why

Read more
January 2019
Tuesday, January 8, 2019

A series of special events and activities will run in 2019 to celebrate the 900th anniversary of ‘the loveliest castle in the world’

Read more
January 2019

It’s our county’s most popular tourist attraction and has our largest student population. Let’s take a look at the busy little city of Canterbury

Read more
December 2018

On the banks of the Medway and boasting great shopping, dining and cultural attractions, our county town is great to visit at any time of year

Read more
December 2018
Monday, December 10, 2018

In the final month of the 50th Anniversary of the Kent Downs AONB and 40th of the North Downs Way, we’ve chosen 25 places to visit and enjoy in the Kent Downs this winter

Read more
Monday, December 3, 2018

This walk is the best way to take in the majestic beauty of the Weald of Kent, linking the North Downs Way at Trottiscliffe with the South Downs Way near to Eastbourne

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Counteract all that festive over-indulgence with a winter walk through National Trust-owned Kentish countryside

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory
Kent Life Food & Drink awards 2016. Open for entries.

Latest Competitions & Offers

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search

Most Read

Latest from the Kent Life