The Doodlebugs

In June 1944 Newchurch ALG was tasked with the defence against the new threat of the V1 flying bomb, the Doodlebug. 

Launched from Northern France, these unmanned flying bombs were literally pointed in the direction of London, with just enough fuel to reach the city.

They flew at about 350mph at between 2500 and 3000ft. At the start, the new Hawker Tempest MkV was the only effective interception aircraft in service and then only 30 were available. These were gathered together to equip 2 Tempest squadrons; 3 (Fighter) and 486 (New Zealand) operating from Newchurch under the command of W/Cmr Roland Beamont. They were joined by the Tempests of the Fighter Interception Unit (501 Squadron) and assisted by the Spitfires and Typhoons of 56 Squadron, also at Newchurch, until they in turn were re-equipped with Tempests in July.

 

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Flight sergeant Rose who shot down the first flying bomb in daylight,
draws a sketch on the blackboard for the Intelligence Officer and other pilots IWM CH 13428

The Royal Airforce Film Production Unit made this film "In Defence of Britain" about the VI flying bomb and the measures taken to combat it including coastal guns, barrage balloons and fighter aircraft interception. It is just under 8 1/2 minutes long.

 

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Flight Lieutenant Jack Stafford
486 Squadron Royal New Zealand Airforce

Click here to read Jack's reminiscences
particularly the campaign against the V1 flying bombs.

audrey1.jpgAudrey Hammon was a school girl in Newchurch during WWII, here she recalls her memories of the Doodlebugs and the destruction of a local house. listen_button.png

 

This is an extract of the full film showing the Fighter Interception operations in the V1 campaign. Newchurch was the mainstay of the fighter effort and much of the footage was taken at the airfield. It is just under 2 minutes long.

Three pilots based at Newchurch each gave radio interviews about their experiences shooting down V1s.
To listen to them click here

In total about 9,250 V1's were fired at London but less than 2,500 reached their target. In the four months from June to September 1944, of the 1,954 V1's destroyed by aircraft, 638 were destroyed by aircraft from Newchurch. Squadron Leader Joseph Berry (FIU) shot down 62, Flt Lt Remy Van Lierde (3 Sqn), 44 and W/C Roland Beamont (3 Sqn), 31.  

You can see the final tally here