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Kent's Doodlebug Summer

Marden received more than its fair share of doodlebugs during the war.

The Weald village found itself in the middle of "bomb alley" - the route favoured by German bombers and the V1 rockets as they headed towards London.

A total of 15 fell around the village, not because Marden was the Nazis' target, but because they either ran out of fuel or were shot down.

Marden.Picture: KM FILE.. (10441635)
Marden.Picture: KM FILE.. (10441635)

Most did little harm, but one gave the village its biggest wartime tragedy.

It fell at 3am on the morning of July 3, 1944 - a Monday.

It dropped by chance on the temporary army camp in Pattenden Lane.

Ten members of the Royal Army Service Corps and one of the Army Catering Corps were killed and another eight soldiers were seriously injured.

The memorial plaque (10438102)
The memorial plaque (10438102)

Colin Whittle, of the Marden History Group (MHG), said: "It's not clear whether it came down of its own volition or was shot down, but it caused the village's worst loss of life."

The fallen servicemen are buried in Marden Cemetery, where their graves are looked after by the War Graves Commission.

This July will mark the 75th anniversary of their deaths, and to mark the occasion, MHG has had a blue plaque made listing all the names of the victims.

The society is planning a ceremony of remembrance on July 3, when the plaque will be fixed to the fence of GG Tomkinson, the transport firm, whose premises currently occupy the site of the tragedy.

Among those attending will be Major Wally Vincent, the secretary of the Army Catering Corps Association, and the history group is also doing its best to track down descendants of the fallen servicemen to invite them to the ceremony.

Mr Whittle said: "It's not an easy task because they came from across the country - one was even from Cork in Ireland."

The graves in Marden Cemetery (10440632)
The graves in Marden Cemetery (10440632)

In September of the same year, Marden residents Mike and Robin Judd remembered another V1 with flames streaming out of the back swooping down on the village.

It passed low over Turnpike House, pursued by a RAF Mustang.

The boys, their mother and grandmother, flung themselves to the ground.

It too crashed to rest in Pattenden Lane, in a pond which it emptied, making a crater three times the size of the original pond.

The Judds, who had minutes before got off the bus from Maidstone in Pattenden Lane, considered themselves to have had a very lucky escape.

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