The Day My Fa­ther Raced a V1 Fly­ing Bomb

This England - - Contents - Adrian Cooper

Water­loo Bridge in Lon­don has been a sub­ject for poets and writ­ers for years. The scene of a lovers’ tryst, a car chase or a reg­i­ment of march­ing men —- the his­toric crossing point has seen it all.

My mem­ory of Water­loo Bridge is also dra­matic. Dur­ing the war I was boarded at a school out­side Lon­don and af­ter the hol­i­days my fa­ther would walk with me across the bridge to the sta­tion. Like the whole of Lon­don we were con­scious of the V1 (doo­dle­bug) threat: that sud­den fly­ing ob­ject some­where over­head with the recog­nis­able sound, then the en­gine cut­ting out, a si­lence, fol­lowed by an ex­plo­sion.

We were half­way across the bridge when there was a grow­ing “putt-putt” sound. The fly­ing bomb swooped over Water­loo Sta­tion, dipped, and headed straight for us. We were as­tounded. “Run!” my fa­ther shouted. For an in­stant the V1 mark­ings were clearly vis­i­ble, and then it was past us, over the Thames and head­ing for the Palace of West­min­ster. Mirac­u­lously, it lifted, cleared the build­ing, and dis­ap­peared. My fa­ther later wrote to me and told me that the fly­ing bomb crossed Lon­don and ex­ploded in open coun­try.

It was a fam­ily joke that fa­ther should wear run­ning spikes the next time he went over the bridge. I thought that he sprinted very well with a small boy in one hand, a suit­case in the other and a gas mask slung round his neck!

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