The German Night Raid on the Maidenhead / Bray Area
February 22-23, 1944.
The 564 (M) HAA. Troop stationed on Dorney Common
The retaliation air raid on west London shortly after midnight of 22nd/23rd February 1944 by the German Luftwaffe was carried out by 155 aircraft made up of Dornier 217 M’s, Ju 188’s and Me 410 A’s.
This resulted in bombs being dropped on the Maidenhead area - probably the largest bombing attack on this area during the entire war.
At about midnight clusters of flares had been dropped over the Thames and drifted southwest towards the Weybridge area. About this time 15 Messerschmitt Me 410 A’s took off from France. They were quickly picked up by Radar and Mosquito aircraft of 96 Squadron and night fighter action started near the South coast and continued over the Slough, Maidenhead Bray area.
As the raid continued, the Do 217’s joined the Me 410’s and possibly to elude their pursuers jettisoned their bombs on St. Leonards farm, south east of Oakley Green and Bray. Bombs also fell between Bray Police Station and the 8th Fairway of Maidenhead Golf Course. As the attack continued other bombs fell in the Maidenhead / Bray area, one falling in a field leaving a crater 12ft by 5ft diameter and damaging 50 houses. It is thought that this device could have been dropped by the Me 410 engaged by the guns of 564 Battery stationed on SM7 Site, Dorney Common.
The 564 (M) HAA. Troop, stationed on Dorney Common with four 3.72" AA Guns, engaged the Me 410 at 11,800 ft with CS type fire using 42 rounds of ammunition. The battery return states, An Me 410, after engagement by site SM7, banked sharply, jettisoned bombs and flares close by and crashed in flames at Radnage, near High Wycombe.
A witness who happened to see the crash said, "It approached from the south at very high speed, the engines screaming at full throttle, leaving an extremely long trail of flame. Indeed as the aircraft hit the ground, this flame set fire to a nearby hedge".
Battery commander Major Haines sent a guard party to the crash site. They returned to Dorney Camp with one of the plane propellers, a trophy of their victory. A celebration party by the Battery followed their success as Major Haines ordered the NAAFI canteen to be opened.