One letter from reader John Goose, who asked whether Mullard's factory in Hackbridge was bombed by a V1 rocket during the Second World War, has prompted a wealth of correspondence. So much so in fact, that readers' letters and tales of damage the bombing caused will be run on the Heritage page over the next two weeks.

First is MR N Goody, from Surrey Grove, Sutton. He has confirmed the bombing took place but says the rocket might not have been a V1.

In response to John Goose's request for information on the bombing of Mullards (Heritage page Guardian December 20), I can tell him that Mullards was hit by a conventional dumb' bomb.

The bomb was small and believed to be 200 or 500lbs (total weight not explosive material weight). The attack was made before the V1 flying bomb (not rocket) appeared. The bomb hit the north-west corner of a building.

Having visited restored V1 launching sites in the Dieppe and Calais regions in France, a V1 flying bomb would have hit a different part of the building if an attack had taken place.

All the launch sites were in north-east France or Belgium. The V1s were guided by gyroscopes to magnetic compasses.

The flight direction was set at take off and the V1 flew in a straight line and could only go off course due to malfunction or weather.

The Mullard factory was alongside the Wandle river in a SSE-NNW line. All the V1s were launched in a NNW-NW direction, so a V1 would have hit the southern end or the east side of the building.

As a 12-year-old boy living in Arlington Drive, I saw several V1s and these all came from the south-east. The V1s were set to dive at a shallow angle to get the maximum blast on impact, with their one ton (1000kg) explosive warheads, combined with the help of the aircraft's own weight crashing at over 400mph (650kph).

There still seems to be some confusion in the difference between the V1 and the V2. The V1 was a pilotless aircraft powered by a small pulse jet engine. It was the peculiar sound the engine made which led to its nickname Doodlebug. Its speed was around 650kph.

The V2 was the world's first intercontinental ballistic missile. It was a sub-orbital rocket which reached a height of 50 miles (80km) and crashed vertically at around 3000mph.

At five times the speed of sound, the victims never heard it coming.

I was four when my family moved to Arlington Drive, Carshalton, in 1935. This probably saved our lives. The house we had moved from was destroyed in the early years of the war by a parachute mine.

To my knowledge, there were only two V1 flying bombs to hit the Carshalton and Wallington area one that crashed at the Orchard Way, Erskine Road junction where the Butterchurn pub now stands, and the second crashed in the Grange, Beddington Park, alongside Wallington County Grammar School. Both V1s crashed in June.

This led to a large number of us being evacuated to south Wales. However, by Christmas we were all homesick and had returned home and to our school at the height of the V2 rocket attacks.

We heard them after they crashed but none landed in the Sutton region.

The River Wandle and the surrounding woods were our adventure playground. We used to get involved in the Sunday morning Home Guard manoeuvres. Captain Mainwaring would not have been amused!

Wallington County School had been hit by a bomb the previous year to the flying bomb attack. We were told that a German bomber which had been hit was trying to escape and dropped its bombs to get away.

One hit the front of the school, one destroyed the historic Inigo Jones' (a famous architect) house at Wallington Green. Another destroyed the Kings Head in Carshalton High Street (now the site of a supermarket) and a very old open-fronted, marble-slabbed butchers on the site of the present car park.

Reynolds Close and the surrounding area was still orchards when we moved to Carshalton. The area now occupied by Durand flats was a watercress bed.

The whole area was owned by the Mizzen family, whose 'island' mansion became a home for children refugees from the Spanish Civil War.

In later years, after RAF service, I worked at Mullards. My job included the development and design of thermionic miniature valves for guidance systems for missiles and other classified military projects. My future wife worked in the laboratory which tested the products.

This lab was on the top floor of a building which had been badly damaged by the bomb. The slightly uneven floor where the restored section joined the old could be clearly seen.


January 11, 2002 10:30