The V2 Rocket


From the v2rocket web site –

The V2 offensive lasted from September of 1944 until March of 1945. Close to 2,500 rockets were launched in this time period. The London area was hit by over 500 rockets and several hundred more dropped in surrounding  counties. At first London and Antwerp were the primary targets, but  rockets also fell around Ipswich and Norwich, and many Allied held  targets in France, Belgium and Holland, and even on Germany itself. (Quote courtesy of and used with the permission of Tracy Dungan

An estimated 2,754 civilians were killed in London by V2 attacks with  another 6,523 injured, which is two people killed per V2 rocket. However, this understates the potential of the V2, since many rockets were misdirected and exploded harmlessly. Accuracy increased greatly over the course of the war, particularly on batteries where  Leitstrahl-Guide Beam apparatus was installed, with V2s sometimes landing within meters of the target. Accurately targeted missiles were often devastating, causing large numbers of deaths 160 killed and 108  seriously injured (the worst loss of life in a single V2 attack), in one explosion on 25 November 1944 in mid-afternoon, striking a Woolworth’s department store in New Cross, south-east London and 567 deaths in a  cinema in Antwerp and significant damage in the critically important  Antwerp docks.Quote from the wikipedia web site.

The wikipedia web site also quotes a Channel 4 program “Blitz Street” claiming that as a result of such deadly targeting, British intelligence leaked falsified information implying that the rockets were over-shooting their London target by 10 to 20 miles. This tactic seems to have worked and for the remainder of the war most landed in Kent due to erroneous recalibration. Further a scientific reconstruction carried  out in 2010 for the “Blitz Street” program demonstrated that the V2 creates a crater 20m wide and 8m deep, throwing up around 3000 tons of  material into the air.

The v2rocket web site has a comprehensively researched list of the V2’s launched during the whole campaign but we could not find anything obvious for Sunday 14th January 1945 that might be the one launched that landed in Panmure Road so we contacted them requesting permission to use quotes from their site and to ask if they had any suggestions as to where we might further our research, they very kindly forwarded a copy of our request to one of their colleagues John Pridige who was able to provide us with the information regarding the time the rocket struck, the time and where it was launched and even the serial number of the rocket.

This to our mind this provides a perfect lesson of the undoubted benefits of taking the time and effort of contacting the owners of web sites and  requesting permission to use some of their information rather than just  “lifting” that information – you really have no idea what further information or resources they may have. We had been trying to find the impact time of the V2 for years and yet it was only a matter of a few hours from making initial contact to getting what to us is priceless information.

The next step we shall be taking, as suggested by John Pridige, is to consult the information in document HO 192/728 at the National Archives which contains a damage report on the incident.


V2 Rocket© Tracy Dungan

We  thought that this photograph gives a perfect indication of the size of a  V2 rocket and we thank Tracy Dungan for allowing us to use it.

 Posted by at 10:00 am

  14 Responses to “The V2 Rocket”

  1. I was chief mate on a Liberty ship called Zane Grey. We discharged cargo during January and February 1944 in Antwerp Docks. I was handed a piece of shrapnel that found it’s way into our #2 hold. For years I puzzled, how could a V-1 or V-2 carry the weight of anti- personnel metal. then I read about a multistage rocket called the Reinbott. Do you have anything on this little jem?

  2. Has anyone evidence of a V” strike on the Thames shoreline where workers were building shuttering for the Mulberry Harbour?

  3. The British actively encouraged the deployment and developement of the V2. The reason?? In the late 30’s the British had looked into the developement of a similar system but the economics [as was later proved] did not add up The damage /cost ratio of the V2 was that it cost much more than ONE HUNDRED times as much to produce than the damage it caused. For the price of ONE V2 probably a WING of LANCASTERS could be produced. To put it another way, A single LANCASTER carried a 12-22 thousand pound bombload whilst the V2 carried a 1000 to 2000 [approx] warhead. You do the maths!! During the last year of WW2 the combined RAF/USAAF dropped maybe as much as 1.5 million tons of bombs on Germany in reply and including V weapons the Germans dropped about SEVEN/EIGHT THOUSAND TONS. ONLY the other day on AMERICAN PBS I heard the commentator. say that between 40,000 and 50,000 causlties were cause by the V2 alone and that CHURCHILL considered the V2 could even at that late stager ‘win the war’ . This is at least ten times as much as the real number. All in all the V2 on a cost/benefit basis was a complete failure though the propaganda effect was huge. There was no guidance system for the V2 it was purely BALLISTIC. The V1 had a crude system that cut the engine over the target causing the V1 to crash. I CAN EVEN REMEMBER it. When I as a kid you could hear them coming and waited for the ‘cut”. I lived in East Sussex at the time – and called Doodle-Bug Alley. By the end ninety percent of V1 were either ‘turned’ or shot down!

    • My great aunt Dorothy had an alternative name for the doodlebug with which you are probably familiar though too polite to mention, the ‘flaming arsehole’

  4. My Mother Violet Clayton was seriously injured in Incident 229. She was working in the Canteen at the Erith Oil Works and at the time of the blast she had bent down to get something out of an oven. The Oven shielded her from the main force of the explosion but she was seriously injured by burns from the oven and flying glass and debris. Some of her brothers were working nearby and helped rescue her and others from the rubble. In the list of those killed there were listed people from the same Street she lived at. Such was the times they lived in that friends family and neighbours all worked in the same factories.

  5. I’m revering to the V2 that hit St Johns Way UpperHolloway, on Sunday around 4 pm, which ain’t as a school boy I had to walk through to get to my school on the Monday, which was the day after and it had been closed off by the police. I have a tale to tell. Mr Les HOARE.

    • The nearest incident we can find is Incident 154 on Sunday 5 November 1944 at Grovedale Road, Islington.

      Is this the incident you remember?

      • Hi there, Just for your info, there is a Facebook page called Archway Revisited. It is a History page on the Archway N.19. Area. There are many pages, photos, anecdotes and sadly, the names of the deceased, on the Grovedale/Boothby Rd V2 Rocket attack. The attack happened at around 5.25pm on Sunday, November 5th 1944. The rocket landed bang opposite my house on the Grovedale/Boothby Rd corner, leaving my family buried inside. Thankfully they all survived.
        As I say, there are pages upon pages of this incident on the Archway Revisited Facebook page for anybody wishing to delve deeper. Hope this helps.

    • I can also remember the V2 attack on St Johns Way, Upper Holloway. My family (Parents, brother and myself) were having afternoon tea at a friends house in Hornsey Rise and could see the plume of dust from their dining room window. I can remember going to school on the following day and finding a significant number of classmates missing (Duncombe Road School), including my table-mate Billy..

  6. Details requested for the V2 that incident at Cotton Street Poplar E.14 and the destruction of All Saints Church, might be incident no.516

  7. Mystery explosion – V2 or random bomb

    I remember a mystery explosion occured towards the latter end of WW2. I lived at 89 Sandhurst Drive, Ilford and we heard a large explosion (no air raid warning) which caused the garden rake propped up outside, against our fence, to fall over and crack our dining room window. The next day, on my tricycle, I found that the houses fronting Longbridge Road, between Sandhurst Drive and Capel Gardens had been demolished. All that was left standing was the end wall of the house nearest Sandhurst Drive and that of the house nearest Capel Gardens. We never found out what had caused this.

  8. V-2 rocket impact on 21/12/1944 16.12 hrs., the actual site of impact was in Basedale Road, at that time this was classified as in Dagenham Essex rather than Barking. This road is a crescent, and runs, in part, parallel to the Fenchurch St. to Tilbury line, and the District line to Upminster. The point of impact was on the corner, immediately adjacent to the steps leading up to Lodge Avenue, which passes over the rail line. Undoubtedly it was because of the steep incline of the slope, I am able to relate this information, as at that precise moment I was a few yards from the top of the steps, no more than 80 yards from the impact site. The vividness of that moment of time, has never been far from my thoughts throughout my life, as it was my ninth birthday, and myself and a friend were about to play with his football, on the flat area alongside the road close to the impact. Yes, I was injured, and I carry the scars , as well as metal fragments in my leg, but grateful to still be alive.

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