Day doodlebug hit Calderdale

I HAVE been thinking about my boyhood memories of growing up in Sowerby during the war – specifically of Hitler’s “Christmas present” in 1944 – a V1 doodlebug.

On Christmas Eve the sirens went and we went into the cellar, except Father, who stood at the door and looked out over the valley.

We hadn’t experienced any Luftwaffe activity for years and thought that this was probably a false alarm.

But then we heard a sound unlike anything we had heard before. It was like a very loud, raucous, slow-revving two-stroke engine.

My brother, Gavin, and I knew the identity of every aircraft by its sound and we were yelling to father to come into the cellar as it was a doodlebug.

It came right over the house and then the engine stopped so we knew it was on the way down. Soon there was a tremendous bang and everything shook, though there was no damage.

The following mor-ning we went for our customary walk while mum prepared the goose for Christmas dinner. On the road from Hubberton to Cottonstones we saw a group of people in a field further up the hill so we went to join them.

The doodlebug had fallen in the corner of a field, creating an extensive crater. After all, it carried a ton of high explosive.

The farm at the other end of the field must have been damaged but what I remember is a number of women plucking some geese which had been killed.

It was all quite exciting and we collected some of the many bits of metal which were lying around and took them home as souvenirs. The only damage was some broken windows in Cottonstones and an old lady died of delayed shock several months later.

The doodlebug had been launched from an aircraft which had carried it to the Yorkshire coast. The object was to clobber poor old Manchester and I believe that one did actually get that far.

I have studied carefully Google maps in satellite mode, and come to the following conclusion. Of course it is all based on a 10-year-old’s memory of 66 years ago.

Go on to Google maps, satellite mode, and home in on the road from Hubberton to Cottonstones. You then go up Kennel Lane, where there is a farm on the right hand side, just before reaching Poverty Lane.

If you enlarge the view and look in the corner of a field about one to two hundred yards from the farm, on the Hubberton side, you can see a definite crater.

The layout of these elements matches my memory, though it would be truly remarkable if, after all these years, this is the crater made by the doodlebug. It does fit in with my memory that windows were broken in Cottonstones, which is quite near, but I didn’t hear of damage in Hubberton.

If anyone was to investigate what looks like a crater which could have been made by the doodlebug I would be interested to know of their findings. After all, if it is where the missile landed a metal detector might unearth a few more fragments.