27 March, 2012

27 March 1945

No letter today. Just this:

Here are the photos Greg took around Bonn on the West side of the Rhine and Bad Godesburg on the East side of the Rhine, Germany on 26 March 1945.

The Cathedral at Bonn, Germany - March 1945

All that is left of the famous University at Bonn, Germany
March 1945

Typical GI Sign-Post on German Flak Gun - Bonn, Germany
March 1945

Fredrick William the Great - Bonn, Germany - March 1945
(Behind is shell of University)

Note painting on fence. See this all over Germany. They are pep talks.
This one says "Certainly we will win. There's no doubt about it!"
Bonn, Germany - March 1945

Camera didn't get beautiful facade on building.
Note Jayhawk Ferry sign - Our Corps Ferry

The Rhine - Below Bonn, Germany - March 1945
West Bank sign erected by Engineers and greets you as you head East.
And CBI = China-Burma-India Theater - which I hope I miss.

The Rhine looking South from Bonn

West Bank of Rhine Smoke Pot - Beginning of Smoke Screen
Bad Godesberg - March 1945

Looking East across Rhine at Bad Godesberg
March 1945

Civilians queuing up for questioning. Note Gerries in uniform.
Bad Godesberg - March 1945


about the Last V-2 Rocket Launched

From losser.vamp's Flicker photostream came the below photos with the following write-up:
Towards the end of March 1945 Allied forces were closing in on the two launch sites in Holland, crossing the Rhine on 21 March. The German rocket batteries had time for a few parting shots before moving out of Holland and putting Britain beyond the range of the two. On the afternoon of 27 March 1945 they launched two last rockets, one aimed at Antwerp (which killed 27 people) the other aimed at London. At 4:54pm the 1115th and final V-2 to land in England landed at Orpington in Kent (15 miles from the center of London) between Court Road and Kynaston Road, blasting a crater 40 feet across and 20 feet deep in the gardens that separated the two roads. People heard the explosion for miles around as buildings shook, windows and tiles were blown from houses and people dived for cover.

23 People from Court Road and Kynaston Road were seriously injured, including a married couple in their garden at No. 84 Kynaston Road, two old age pensioners at No. 86 Kynaston Road, the elderly occupants of No. 82 Kynaston Road, whose roof was lifted off in the blast and a police Inspector at No. 69 Court Road who was listening to a radio program about the war being over when the house fell on top of him! The owner of No. 63 Court Road heard the explosion while she was shopping in Petts Wood and returned to find her house gone. Two children playing in the garden of No. 96 Kynaston Road were saved as they were playing in the Anderson Shelter at the time.

Damage at Kynaston Road on 27 March 1945

34-year-old Mrs Ivy Millichamp of No. 88 Kynaston Road was in her kitchen when the rocket fell. She was pulled from the wreckage by her husband Eric but she had caught the full force of the blast and was already dead. Apparently she had just gone into the kitchen to boil a kettle; her husband, who had remained in the front room of the house, survived.

Ivy Millichamp

Ivy was part of a large family - her parents Mr and Mrs Benjamin Croughton had seven daughters and five sons in Tottenham before moving to Rayleigh in Essex. Ivy married engineer Eric Millichamp in 1938 and the couple moved into the bungalow in Kynaston Road as it was convenient for Eric's work. In January 1945 a V-1 flying bomb had landed in Court Road, killing 8 people, but that time Ivy and Eric escaped unharmed. Just over 2 months later they were less lucky and Ivy suffered the cruel fate of becoming the 60595th and last civilian to be killed in Britain. She was buried in All Saints Churchyard on April 3rd. The grave initially was not marked and the death certificate gave her address incorrectly as 86 Court Road. Thanks to the editor and authors of the book The Blitz: Then & Now Vol. 3 the certificate was corrected and a suitable headstone was erected. On Rememberance Sunday in 1989 a memorial service was held at the grave. Her headstone records the fact that she was the last person in Britain to be killed by enemy action.

Ivy's Grave

Although the days of the V2 attacks were over the V-1 attacks continued for 2 more days but with no further deaths. On March 29th anti-aircraft gunners in North Kent triumphantly claimed what was to be the last V-1 to land on British soil. It exploded in open countryside at Iwade near Sittingbourne.
88 Kynaston Road today

Here is an eyewitness account called "The Last V2 - Final Attack in Orpington, 1945" as written by Michael Delaney and posted on BBC's web site WW2 People's War
It was the morning of the 27th March 1945, Mum had gone to clean the library in Orpington High Street, it was one of the many jobs she did to feed her family of seven children which included a cousin who lived with us since her Mother died four years previously. We lived in Walnuts Road which ran parallel to the valley of Orpington High Street, and this particular morning we were getting ready for school while Dad was dressing the younger members of the family. Paddy was the eldest, he was ten, I was eight, then came my cousin Mary, seven, my two sisters Marion and Margaret five and four respectively,followed by two brothers, Desmond, two and Jack, one. I was passing the window at the rear of the living room when I felt a rush of wind, almost warm and then it was as though some giant had picked the house up and shook it like a matchbox, the windows trembled before cascading across the living room, showering Demond with tiny splinters, an almighty roar followed instantaneously and the house shook again before a silence descended followed by cries and shouts of fear and terror.My ears rang as though a thousand bells had entered my head and everything became slow motion.

Dad clasped the girls and tried to brush the particles of glass away from their hair, astonishingly none of us was hurt but the cold morning entered the house with nothing to bar its way. Dad calmed us, then in an even calmer voice he said to me and Paddy, "Go down to the library and look for Mum." We were only too glad to go, it meant that we might be able to see where the bomb had landed, so instead of making for the library at the top end of the High Street, we made for the centre where a scene of devastation met our eyes, every shop window in the centre of the high street lay in smithereens across the pavement and gutter, ragged garments hung from some open spaces where jagged frames hung crazily into the thoroughfare. A policeman wearing a black steel helmet was blowing a whistle and the A.R.P vehicles and ambulances were moving slowly up the street. Broken tiles were scattered in pieces having been blown from the roofs of the shops, two shop assistants were standing crying together outside what remained of their workplace. We picked our way up the high street towards the library and found it minus windows and door, of Mum there was no sign, we were nearer the scene of the explosion now, and only for the large Commodore cinema, the casualties would have been much higher, The explosion was caused by a V-2 and it had landed fifty yards or so behind the cinema which absorbed most of the blast. The V-2 was a rocket filled with high explosives and targeted to land in the areas in and around London, these were so sophisticated that you never heard them coming, the first you knew was the explosion, their predecessor, the V-1 had an unmistakeable sound, like a motor-bike without a silencer and you could hear the engine cut out and try to seek shelter. The V-2 was silent,deadly and dreaded. Assuming that Mum had been killed or wounded, we didn't bother to hurry home, but continued to survey the devastated high street.

Eventually we strolled home looking for shrapnel on the way, we found Mum at home, she had been cleaning the part of the library below ground level and was there when the rocket landed. We were delighted, not about Mum but about the fact that we didn't have to go to school that day. It seemed ironical that only nine months' earlier, we had been evacuated to Wales to escape the V-1s only to be hit by a V-2. This was in fact, the last V-2 to land on England. One person was killed whom I believe is buried in Orpington graveyard, around thirty or so were injured, and just two months later, the war was over. Even today if you stand near the was memorial in Orpington and look up to the sloping roofs above the street, you will be able to see the 'new' tiles that replaced the old ones blasted away in that last V-2 attack.

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