Doodlebug dug up 75 years later

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Colin Welch, Kent based archaeologist, cleans debris of a V1 rocket bomb (Doodlebug)

A German V1 flying bomb, shot down by fighters from airfields at Brenzett and Newchurch in August 1944, was uncovered near Bromley Green on Tuesday exactly 75 years to the day after it crashed. Kent based archaeologists Colin and Sean Welch, whose company Research Resource, specialise in military research and recovery operations, have co-ordinated the dig.

F/Sgt Jozef Donocik

The official 1944 combat report states: Flight Sergeant Donocik of 315 Squadron, flying a Mustang III, claims a half ‘kill’ of a flying bomb intercepted over Dymchurch at 2,500ft. A Tempest aircraft fired from 700 yards as Mustang closed. Mustang fired from 300 yards line astern. Jet unit blew up and flying bomb crashed in woods three miles SSW Ashford. Time of combat 07.52.

The world’s first cruise missiles, the V1 flying bombs were launched from ramps in German-occupied Europe and aimed largely at targets in London and the south-east.

Colin Welch, with brother Sean, comprise Research Resource, and specialise in the accountable archaeology of the German V-weapons offensive of 1944-45. They have excavated numerous sites but Sean says this one is particularly interesting. “F/Sgt. Donicik was flying a Mustang with 315 ‘City of Deblin’ Polish Squadron based at Brenzett and armed with machine guns. The Tempest, flown by a pilot called West, was based at Newchurch and armed with heavier calibre cannons. Both claimed to have shot the flying bomb down but there’s no conclusive proof for either of them. The interesting thing is, the bullet holes in the propulsion unit appear to be larger than those made by a machine gun round – they look more likely to have been made by cannon shells.”

F/Sgt. Donicik is already known to Colin and Sean. “He shot down another V1 earlier in August 1944,” said Colin, “and we excavated the site of that particular one earlier this year at Packing Wood, near Ham Street.”

Any remains uncovered from the site will be used in future displays and exhibits, part of a larger project by Research Resource to record the V-weapon campaign against the UK.

Mustangs of 315 ‘City of Deblin’ Polish Squadron, lined up at ALG Brenzett, 1944.

Image Credits: Chris Lawson .

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