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1954: The V1 in hindsight

Updated: Jan 2, 2022

The codeword signified an attack by pilotless aircraft. Th« vanguard of the long-expactad robot armada had been sighted.

That first V1 fell harmlessly in open countryside at Swancombe, near Gravesend, at 0411 hours But three sister ships followed at intervals of a few minutes. The second and third caused slight damage at Cuckfield and Sevenoaks. The fourth was the killer…

Six people died. Nine others were gravely injured.

Two hours later a detailed report of the night's events lay on the desk of Air Chief Marshal Sir Roderic Hill, officer commmanding the Air Defence of Great Britain.

Britain had been preparing for the V1 onslaught since February. Agents behind the ‘robot curtain’ had sent back a mass of information, and comprehensive plans had been made to meet the new menace.

The Germans had begun their campaign on a surprisingly small scale.

Hill realised the immense responsibility which rested on him and on the pilots under his command. He took a sheet of paper from his drawer and began to write:

Order of the day. To all pilots A.D.GB. Engage pilotless aircraft on the same terms as ordinary aircraft …

But there was still a doubt in Sir Roderic’s mind. The report before him contained evidence that each of the first four missiles had attained a speed of about 400 mph towards the end of its flight almost 50 mph more than intelligence had predicted …

From 'Victory over the V-Bombs' Daily News, 13 September 1954

Contributed by Malcolm Davison.



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