BUGS OVER KENT
beneath the corridor taken by the V1 “Doodlebugs” in
the final stages of the 2nd world war was often a thrill seeking
experience for young farmer Cyril Skinner.
I would see as many as five or six of these terrifying machines
roar across the landscape every day en-route for London."
It was on a clear warm day in early August 1944, after finishing
feeding a flock of pullets in the orchard just below the farm when
once again I heard the all too familiar drone of a V1. As I moved
to gain a clear view I was aware of the additional sound of two
radial engines. As an active member of the Observer Corps and a
keen aircraft enthusiast, I knew these could only belong to the
Hawker Tempest. With a top speed in excess of 400 mph the Tempest
Mk 11 was the only fighter at that time capable of matching and
engaging the V1's.
ten seconds or so, the trio had broken tree cover at about two hundred
feet. The Tempest's combined fire-power of eight 20mm cannon had
already taken their toll on the now ailing and headed my way V1.
I remember having a very nasty feeling its journey was about to
be cut short, and at this stage could only hope my life would not
share the same fate. Suddenly the drone of the ram jet stopped,
and the nose dipped, the fighters swiftly peeled away, within
a second it had almost silently covered the field I stood in and
disappeared into the wood a couple of hundred yards away. I stood
fascinated as leaves and branches were blasted high into the air,
and then quickly dropped to the ground lying as flat as possible.
After an earth shaking bang and shock-wave that rendered a dozen
or so pullets around me unconscious I stood and made my way to back
to the farmhouse.
blast had removed several large areas of roof tiles, but more noticeable
were the frail old leaded light windows, which had been blown in,
then almost sucked out. I suppose it was the local council,
who came in a very short time and covered the openings with a heavy
bitumised paper. After checking on the family I headed eagerly down
to the wood.
large area had been stripped clean and only the larger oaks albeit
shaved of bark remained. The hot twisted wreckage lay a few feet
from the crater, and I well remember pouring some warm water over
it, and watching the steam rise.
In the following days we lost three or four cows due to a high tensile
wire that was wound around the compressor of the V1, the explosion
fragmented this, showering the grass for hundreds of yards with
lethal short strands which were eaten by the poor unsuspecting beasts.