Last Updated: 25 Feb 2019 10:16am
At 7.13pm on 12 July 1944 a V-1 Flying Bomb, also known as a ‘Doodlebug’, impacted Tonbridge Sportsground. The resulting explosion damaged 500 shops and houses in Tonbridge High Street and Barden Road area. This was one of 12 Doodlebugs which landed in Tonbridge during the Second World War.
Seventy five years on and visitors to Tonbridge Sportsground can now see for themselves the details of the bombing and how it impacted the area, as Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council and Tonbridge Town Wardens unveil an information board in the immediate location of where the bomb hit to commemorate this significant event in the town’s history.
On Thursday 14 February, Members of Tonbridge Town Wardens, David Davis and Eddie Prescott unveiled the information panel. They were joined by Tonbridge resident Harry Elliott, who witnessed one of the Doodlebugs impacting at the sportsground.
Harry Elliott says: “Seeing a V1 weapon hurtling above my head and then watching it hit the ground; seeing the billowing black and red explosion and not knowing at the time that it had killed one of my friends; was a life-changing event.
“We called them doodlebugs – the thing was that you could hear and see them coming, they whipped along at about 300 miles an hour and they made a noise like a tractor engine and when that stopped you had about 15 seconds to find cover. My doodlebug was a lot different; flying alongside of it was a Spitfire and I believe the pilot used his wing to tip the thing over. It hit the ground on Tinker’s Island, exploded and killed my friend Michael. You can’t blame the pilot; he wasn’t to know it was our ‘hide and seek’ playground.”
Cabinet Member for Community Services Cllr Maria Heslop says: “I am excited that this episode in the history of Tonbridge has been brought to life for all to see on this interesting information board. I hope it sparks the curiosity of residents and visitors so that they go on to delve further into the fascinating past of our town for themselves.”
David Davis, from Tonbridge Town Wardens says: “In addition to our other charitable work around the town, we are pleased to have this opportunity to bring an historic moment to the notice of Tonbridge residents with the installation of this information panel. We hope it will be of interest to both older and younger generations.”