Such was Hugh Martyr’s foreboding introduction to the history of the World War 2 doodlebugs that devastated parts of London and the South East between June and October 1944, when he spoke to Pershore Rotary.

The first strike on London in June 1944 hit a railway bridge in Bethnal Green and killed 6 people. There followed 9,521 launches of V-1 bombs against England – resulting in 6,184 civilian deaths and £millions of damage to property and businesses, with Croydon and Beckenham, known locally a ‘doodlebug alley’, being the most damaged areas of London.

V-1 bombs were launched from ramps sited along the French coastline, from Caen to Calais, and could be moved from site to site to avoid detection. Flying at 340mph, between 1,000 and 3,000 ft, some 200 to 300 were launched every day. The RAF and US Airforce retaliated with Spitfires, Mosquitos, Mustangs, Tempests and Typhoons in order to destroy the V-1s in the air. Some pilots managed to change the bomb’s trajectory by ‘flipping’ the bomb with the aircraft’s wing. Sadly, many pilots were killed when V-1s exploded in mid-air. Later, the faster Gloster Meteor F1s were used to knock out the V-1s.

Eventually, with the Allied Forces advancing through Europe many of the V-1 sites were captured and destroyed. Germany often used the flying bombs to carry propaganda leaflets.

However, these were countered by cartoons in the UK press.

Conflict and violence displace millions of people each year with half of those killed in conflict being children and 90 per cent being civilians. Rotarians refuse to accept conflict as a way of life. Rotary projects provide training that fosters understanding and provides communities with the skills to resolve conflicts. If you would like to know more about Rotary in the Pershore area contact Bob Marchant at or on 07850 996732.