On the night of the 13th June 1944 Londoners heard a strange sound in the sky. The sound was later described as sounding like a motorbike without a silencer or a badly
maintained steam train going up hill. Some also saw, what they thought was a burning enemy aircraft crossing the sky with a sword of flame emanating from its tail. Others knew that this was the first of the Vengeance weapons code named “Diver ” by British Intelligence.
Eight civilians were killed by the first V1 to land on London, in Grove Road in the Mile End district. This hit the capital in the early hours of June 13, 1944.
The V1 was capable of killing large numbers of people at one go, inflicting terrible injuries and causing huge material damage to buildings and homes. The V1 constructed by the designer Werher von Braun in Peenemünde, caused lots of chaos and blast damage over a wide area. It exploded on the surface, and a huge blast wave
rippled out from the epicenter. As it did so it left a huge vacuum, which caused a second rush of air as the vacuum was filled..This caused a devastating pushing and pulling effect.
At the impact site houses or buildings were totally demolished and destroyed. In the inner London suburbs where terrace houses were packed together, sometimes up to 20 houses would totally collapse, just at one hit.Brick walls were pulverized into small fragments.
Further out from the epicenter walls, roofs and window frames were ripped out exposing the contents and innards of the house. Further out still, all the windows were blown out and roofing slates blown off. Every time a Doodlebug landed hundreds of houses were damaged. Ranging from total demolition to minor damage. This was a freezing, drenched summer and repairs would take several months. Londoners were de-housed in their tens of thousands or shivered in cold, damp and roofless houses. The blast area of a V1 extended across a radius of 400 -600 yards in each direction.
Anyone unlucky enough to be close to the impact site would be blown apart or suffer crush injuries from falling masonry. Others would be trapped below collapsed buildings and have to be dug out. Further away from the impact site awful injuries were inflicted by shards of flying glass.
During the course of the attacks the nature of the injuries changed somewhat. At the beginning people were caught unawares on the street and injuries from flying glass were widespread. Later on, people had understood the necessity of shelter in safe (er) areas of their home e.g. under the stairs. However, this had the effect of less flying glass injuries but more crush injuries from people being buried in the ruins of collapsed houses.
The toll of human suffering was appx. 6184 people killed by V1’s and 17981 seriously injured and maimed. Tens of thousands of others received lesser injuries. Countless more would suffer the pain of bereavement or from the loss of their home and treasured possessions.The suffering and grief endured by Londoner’s during this period must never be forgotten.