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Kent's Doodlebug Summer: Malcolm Hodge interview

Malcolm Hodge was four when he saw a doodlebug which wrecked a street in Frindsbury.

He was having a paddle at The Strand, Gillingham, when he saw it come over.

He remembered: "There was a lot of noise and a doodlebug was coming over parallel over the river and I think there was a plane close to it."

Malcolm in summer 2018 (9070726)
Malcolm in summer 2018 (9070726)

Meanwhile, despite not being fit enough for national service, Malcolm's father Jack was working at Chatham Dockyard.

A printer by trade, his dad was sent there as he was "quite mechanical".

He spent six years refurbishing guns on warships.

Malcolm followed in his footsteps when he was old enough.

Malcolm's dad guessed the doodlebug may have landed close to the family home in Powlett Road and left work early.

"I didn't know where it had landed until I got home and the bus wouldn't go up Frindsbury Hill," said Malcolm.

"It had landed 150 yards from our house.

Malcolm with his father Jack in 1947 (9070711)
Malcolm with his father Jack in 1947 (9070711)

"We had to walk up the road to the house where our front door was hanging off.

"A nearby house was completely destroyed. The family who had lived there completely disappeared."

"The next day, there were people up on the roof relaying the tiles.

"They came and redecorated our house; in those days, people paid a special insurance for bomb damage, so I suppose the council redecorated it."

Adapting to the threat of air raids soon became child's play for Malcolm, who lived in Frindsbury with his parents and sister until he was nine, when the family moved to Gravesend.

The grandfather-of-three has lived in the town ever since wife Pam.

The 79-year-old recalls: "We used to watch them [the doodlebugs] and we knew that if the engine stopped we had to hide under the stairs or window."

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