Saturday 17 January 2015

Wartime memories - the V1 Rocket attack on Windsor

On the afternoon of Saturday, 1st July 1944, a flying bomb was seen and heard coming from the direction of Slough towards Windsor...

Within a very short time an explosion was heard as the bomb hit the chimney of the Windsor Corporation dust destructor in Kentons Lane. Many houses were damaged but there were no deaths, although many people were injured by flying glass. The blast shattered windows at Edward Woolhouse’s cycle shop in the Eton Wick.

Royal Navy Artificer, P.O. Frederick Lamb from Sunderland remembered the incident as follows:-
He was put with a draft from Portsmouth at 5 o'clock in the morning on June 6th 1944, not knowing whence they were bound. His thoughts at that time were of going across the channel with the invasion forces but they were told on reaching Waterloo Station that their destination was the Slough Government Training Centre, and they would be billeted in Windsor. H
e considered he was lucky, had they gone the other way, who knows what the outcome might have been. —

"After a hectic struggle to get across from Waterloo to the station for Windsor with all our gear we arrived on Saturday at Windsor. Another artificer and me had to go on our way to the Police Station to collect a double bunk bed and take it with us along with our kit bags, suit cases, hammocks and tool boxes.

Eventually we were dropped off at a house near to a Pub. The family with whom we were billeted, a husband and wife with young girls, had a small upstairs room for us. We carried our gear to the room and then assembled the double bunk bed. On the Monday morning we caught the train to Slough to work at the Government Training Centre on shifts from 2—10 one week, 6—2 the following week which brought us to July 1st.

The house was partially destroyed, roof windows etc... I think we were taken to a school, the lady there said they would put us up there for the time being and showed me to a mattress on the floor which was screened off. On wakening the next morning I could hear babies crying and women talking. Having dressed, I prepared to leave but at the door enquiries were made as to my relatives and I explained that I was only billeted in the house.

Arriving at the Training Centre the Chief Petty Officer said "You are adrift, Captain’s report" to be charged with absent without leave. Having explained my absence the charge was dismissed. Leave to find transport to Windsor and retrieve my gear. On arriving at the billet, it appeared the house was about to cave in any minute and I was faced with getting my gear out by myself as the driver was not going to risk his life. Having got my tools, hammock, cases etc. I then set about finding a fresh billet. I finished the course and went to H.M.S Wildfire."

Note: WRNS were also taught engineering trades such as welding, machining, wood working at the Slough Government Training Centre, passing out as ship mechanic (LC) for the repair of landing craft.

This memory was recorded as part of  the Eton Wick History Group's Recall 60 years on project to celebrate the 60th anniversary  of the ending of World War 2.

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