Where the rockets fell


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Via Northwest History, Londonist has started plotting London's V2 strikes in Google Maps. Where available, the pop-up has the date, casualties, photos and links. It's incomplete, but updates are promised. See also the Flickr set of LCC bomb damage maps on which it is based, and a tool to find the five closest impact sites to a given address. All very cool. I see that a V2 hit a St Pancras church on 9 February 1945, killing 34 -- a spot I walked past often when I was staying in Bloomsbury (yet another thing I missed). Though I suppose I'm not particularly enlightened by knowing that the closest a V2 came to hitting Melbourne was Romford ...

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9 thoughts on “Where the rockets fell

  1. Lester

    As impressive as it is sad. They even have a Google point for the V2 which hit a school a few hundred yards from where I now live. No info on it, though; maybe I should mail them. I can still see where it struck by the parts of the school buildings that are still cheap ’50s low-rise.

    The LCC bomb damage maps are even more fascinating. Sometimes you can tell from the street how much postwar repair was necessary, sometimes not. My house itself you couldn’t tell, but is down as orange; from the state it’s in I would guess that “General blast damage, minor in nature” describes a level of damage which would nowadays be thought of as quite serious. One quarter is seriously askew and has badly repaired ceilings where all the plaster was blown out. Most other things have been replaced since then so it’s hard to tell exactly how bad. The cellar bomb shelter actually can’t be removed because the blast settled the house onto it so hard; the floor above it is visibly distorted where the shelter beams are propping it up. And this in a house owned by a skilled builder, who was able to get his hands on the materials to sort things out quickly! Others must have been a lot worse.

    Thank you so much for posting the links to these, which I wasn’t aware were in the public domain.

  2. Post author

    Yes, the LCC maps are great — it’s a shame they aren’t slightly higher resolution, but they have enough to be useful. I’m fascinated to hear that you still have a bomb shelter in your cellar! Was it custom-built or a commercial design? Is it still usable? :)

    It’s definitely worth adding any further info you have in the comments at Londonist.

  3. Lester

    More resolution would be awesome, but one can hardly complain!

    Custom-built, I think. It’s not like any of the standard ones (Anderson etc). It has a corrugated steel roof, but also uses big steel beams running across the width of the cellar onto the cellar walls. They look stronger than anything else in the house and could probably support its entire weight in the event of collapse. If I remember correctly (it’s dark down there and there’s a lot of clutter) they are supported by big screw jacks to take some load off the cellar walls. (The cellar is narrower than the house and right under the middle; the cellar walls are left over from an earlier structure and don’t reach all the way up to the house floor, which sits on timbers over a 6-10″ air gap – it’s a bit of an odd construction). The shelter is seriously overbuilt, the kind of thing a builder might construct for themselves if they had access to rather more resources than the government would approve of.

    The sheltered area is only just long enough to cover a bed, I think. There’s nothing like that down there now, though. It would still work as designed, although the junk down there would make it very uncomfortable. However, the escape plan seems to be “push up the coal hole cover and shout for help”, which sounds dicey to me (what if it was blocked with rubble?). All very sobering to think about.

    I have for a while now aspired to clean it out, find one of those old wire beds and stock up on appropriate paraphernalia from eBay… but I doubt it will ever happen. Last summer I went down there to get some stuff out of storage, hit my head on one of the steel beams and put myself out of action for several days with concussion. That rather drained my enthusiasm.

    I’ll dig out my local history books for the Londonist as soon as I can.

  4. Post author

    Thanks for that! Very interesting; I wonder when, precisely, it was built. (If it could be done, tracking the numbers of private shelters built would be one way of measuring the fear of the bomber.) It would be fun to have a fully-kitted out shelter in your cellar, but a concussion is no joke and I can see why it might put you off the idea. But if you change your mind, don’t forget to stock up on appropriate reading material.

  5. Lester

    Sorry – I wrote a long comment reply but it seems to have been lost (probably my fault at work). I shall try again soon.

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  7. Hi, I’m the flickrite with the unofficial LCC maps which I photographed at the London Metropolitan Archives, where they can be seen in better resolution. They were also published a few years back (ISBN 0 902087 51 7), but the book is out of print and very difficult to get hold of. I think larger London libraries will have it, but that wouldn’t be much help to an Australian, I guess.

    Interesting stuff on the cellar shelter. We had quite a lot of discussion about the consistency of damage annotation here (http://www.flickr.com/photos/yersinia/3048546424/), and on some of the other maps.

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