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Kent's Doodlebug Summer: Bernard Crowhurst interview

Bernard Crowhurst, of Kirby Road, Stone, was nine during the doodlebug summer, and recalled watching the first wave of flying bombs come over his childhood home in Hill Rise, Darenth.

"I'm 84 so I lived through the Second World War," he said.

"I witnessed doodlebugs and a V2 rocket that came down. I think I had a fuel pump out of it.

Bernard Crowhurst of Stone, memories of the Doodlebug summer.Picture: Chris Davey. (9642121)
Bernard Crowhurst of Stone, memories of the Doodlebug summer.Picture: Chris Davey. (9642121)

"I remember the first time the doodlebugs came down. I can remember being down my next-door neighbours' shelter. "We had our own shelter but for company we would go to theirs or they would come to ours.

"There was a raid on and I was down the shelter. I think it was the first time the doodlebugs came over.

"My father and Mr Gear, the man next door, were outside with their tin hats on watching the war going on and I remember my father saying 'look the bug has got its arse alight'.

"They thought it was an aeroplane that had been hit, but it was doodlebug, which usually expelled flames from its engine."

Soon after, Mr Crowhurst was evacuated to Axminster in Devon, but hated it so much his father brought him home, and he went to stay with his grandmother in Dartford.

It was there he witnessed another doodlebug raid - but one with an unusual conclusion.

"We went down the shelter. The engine cut out and we knew it was going to come pretty close because of the noise it made.

"We were waiting for the explosion but it never came.

"I think it came down in the Thames or the marshes and never went off.

Doodlebug summer, Bernard Crowhurst of Stone as a teenager.Picture: Chris Davey. (9641932)
Doodlebug summer, Bernard Crowhurst of Stone as a teenager.Picture: Chris Davey. (9641932)

"I remember that very well. It's a long time ago but obviously we were in fear of it coming down in close proximity."

Later Mr Crowhurst had another close-call - this time with the more advanced V2 rocket - the follow-up to the V1 bomb, and the world's first long-range guided ballistic missile.

"I remember the V2 coming down," he said.

"I went to Darenth Infant School - we lived nearby so I used to come home at lunchtime, and I was walking back with my friend Leonard Hemsley.

"We heard an enormous explosion - it was in the air.

"When we looked up there was a big cloud in the sky, but that was followed by an even bigger explosion.

"The rocket came down near the White Hart Pub in Green Street Green, Longfield - it came down in a field nearby and made two big craters.

"My father worked at Littlebrook Power Station. He knew it had come down near the village so he got on his push bike and pedalled back home.

"He found where it had come down and picked up an object which I think was a fuel pump; it was brass, about 9ins tall and 3ins square and had a lot of what looked like jets in it.

"I worked in engineering all my life so I think it was fuel pump."

Bernard Crowhurst of Stone, memories of the Doodlebug summer.Picture: Chris Davey. (9642090)
Bernard Crowhurst of Stone, memories of the Doodlebug summer.Picture: Chris Davey. (9642090)

"That was my prime exhibit for years - I used to have a shelf with bombs and bullet straps."


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