Wednesday, September 08, 2004

a screaming comes across the sky

V2 launching from Pennemuende

John Clarke was six years old when the first V-2 rocket to hit London landed outside his house in Chiswick in the west of the capital. "The best way of describing it is television with the sound off. You're deafened, that's what it boils down to. Seeing an airing cupboard crumple in front of you without a sound is an eerie experience," he says. John's sister, Rosemary Ann, was killed that Friday in 1944. She was three. "There wasn't a mark on Rosemary. The blast goes up and comes down in a mushroom or umbrella shape," Mr Clarke explains. "But in the process of that, my sister's lungs collapsed. She was deprived of air." Rosemary had been in the front upstairs bedroom of the Clarke family residence at 1, Staveley Road, when the explosion ripped their house apart. John was in the bathroom, upstairs at the rear of the house. "I got a piece of the bomb casing in the back of my hand which has created a scar. But I still have full use of my hand - I was very fortunate. The bathroom upstairs didn't collapse. But one of the bedrooms next to it did, which I found very strange as a boy."

....In all, over 1,300 V-2s were fired at England, killing 2,724 people. Germany struck Antwerp in Belgium with 1,265 V-2s and Paris with hundreds more. An accurate count of casualties on the continent is not available.
...from: V-2: Hitler's last weapon of terror, a BBC News story about the V2 attacks on London 60 years ago this week.