An account of when my house was almost hit by a Nazi rocket in WW2

Over the last week or two I have been reading old magazines of histories and memories of my village, rather similar to some of the ones I write myself. A lady by the name of Mollie Thomas strikes particularly close to home as though in her 80’s, writes about her time growing up here in the 1930’s. She writes about the man who would light the gas lamp just near my house, the cows in the field. Playing in the woods and commons, everyone having to get off the bus if it was full and couldn’t get up the hill (the bus still only just makes it) and all sorts of mischief.

Anyway I remember in the summer finding this structure under my back garden and wondering if it was an air-raid shelter… I will investigate one day 🙂 but she wrote an account of when an actual V1 rocket hit and damaged her house.

It literally must have either just cleared my roof or passed over the back garden.She used the same bus as me and the same bus stop and I remember moaning minnie (the air raid siren) though luckily it was mostly mothballed by the 80’s.

It’s a fascinating little read and I’ve found 4 more V1 and V2 hits in the village so will go and poke my nose around once I have found the exact spots. I love the comment at the end about the Cricket Pitch, no excuse for that 🙂

For those that don’t know V1 rockets were known as doodlebugs and buzz bombs. If you could hear them you were ok and nobody bothered about them but as soon as they ran out of fuel you’d hear the chugging and they would literally drop out of the sky in seconds so everyone knew what that meant!

“I remember the flying-bomb incident very well: perhaps it is one of my most vivid wartime memories, although the night abomber crashed on Bentley Priory when my father was on duty with the Air Ministry Constabulary, comes a close second.We did not know whether or not he had survived until his shift ended the following morning and he came cycling down the lane on his rickety old bike, wanting his breakfast.

To return to the flying-bomb: I was in the Lower VIth at Watford Girls’ Grammar School, and we had been dismissed after the mid-morning Assembly, as was the custom at the start of a half-term holiday. Several of us boarded a 142 bus in the High Street, all very cheerful at the prospect of a few days freedom. Some got off at Melbourne Road in Bushey, and I got off at Windmill Lane in Bushey Heath and walked down The Rutts.There was no air raid alert at the time and one certainly could not have missed the sound of Moaning Minnie, which was on the roof of Bushey Police Station. But as I walked down The Rutts and turned into the lane by the Guide Hut where our cottage was, I was aware of an unmistakeable noise, and as I looked up, I saw the flying bomb.

I still get the 142 bus and alight at Windmill Lane just like Molly would do 80 years ago!

The chugging suddenly stopped: I knew what that meant!I was still too far from our cottage to reach it safely, and in any case I knew the door would be locked as my mother would be out at work. I threw myself and my satchel into the hedge, covered my head with my hands and waited. I cannot adequately describe what happened next, but the memory never leaves me. At last I got up, dusted myself down, rescued my satchel and school beret and staggered towards our cottage.I found the key in its usual place, went indoors and crawled into the Morrison shelter which had dominated our front room for several months.

A typical Morrison Shelter, designed to offer just a measure of protection should your home be hit by a WW2 bomb or rocket. Definitely less re-assuring than an Anderson Shelter, I’d say.

After the pandemonium, silence, and I became aware that pictures and ornaments had fallen from walls and shelves. I did not know that a bedroom ceiling had also fallen down. At last my mother came home.We looked at each other and asked the same question: ‘Are you all right? ’Then she began to cook the dinner and I unpacked my satchel.That was war; we were safe, and life went on: no time for histrionics. Sadly my father had died of cancer in a London hospital a few weeks earlier, during a flying bomb raid. And my friends in Bushey? They were furious that their cricket pitch had been utterly destroyed”.

This account was taken from https://busheymuseum.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Journal-16-2019.pdf and if you click the link you can read lots more about some other memories which people have where I live.

There is every chance that others including my own were also affected by this blast but sadly only Mollie is now around to remember those terrible yet incredible days.

The child hood home of Mollie is the house with the four chimney pots. I don’t think the large house in between was around back then.

Anyway I can see Mollies old house and the roof that was damaged right from my writing desk and now you can see it too.

About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including a #1 seller, I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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