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Kent's Doodlebug Summer: Alan Bignell interview

By Alan Smith

"A doodlebug gave me one of my least finest moments," recalls Alan Bignell, of Woodleas, Barming.

"I lived close to Tonbridge station and when I heard the distinctive sound of the ‘buzz-bomb’ approaching, I went out into the narrow backyard to look up into the slot of sky visible between our house and the adjoining one.

"I saw the V1 directly above me and I saw, too, its nose dip into its final dive as the sound ceased abruptly.

Alan Bignell has been sharing his doodlebug memories, pictured at his home in Barming, with a book showing the locations in Kent where they fell.Picture: Sean Aidan (10538031)
Alan Bignell has been sharing his doodlebug memories, pictured at his home in Barming, with a book showing the locations in Kent where they fell.Picture: Sean Aidan (10538031)

"I turned, bolted indoors and flung myself under the Morrison steel table shelter that almost filled the living room, leaving my baby sister asleep in her pram and my mother in another room.

"The bomb exploded on Tinker’s Island, a river-girt far corner of the sports ground, where it rattled windows but did little damage.

"I emerged, feeling very ashamed that self-preservation had driven me to leave my mother and sister to whatever fate intended, while I cowered in the relative safety of the shelter, convinced the bomb was coming down, if not in our back yard, certainly in the garden just beyond it.

"I was, after all, the man of the family. I was almost 16-years-old.

Alan Bignell has been sharing his doodlebug memories, pictured at his home in Barming, with a book showing the locations in Kent where they fell.Picture: Sean AidanAlans map of Kent, the black dots show ehere they fell. (10538040)
Alan Bignell has been sharing his doodlebug memories, pictured at his home in Barming, with a book showing the locations in Kent where they fell.Picture: Sean AidanAlans map of Kent, the black dots show ehere they fell. (10538040)

"My mother, incidentally, came out of the front room, duster in hand, saw me crawling out and laughed.

‘You all right?’ she asked. ‘I hope that didn’t wake your sister up.’

"It didn’t."

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