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Dig for Nazi V2 rocket from the Second World War in Yalding is open to the public

A team of archaeologists are preparing to uncover a bit of history from the Second World War - and you can watch them in action.

On November 6, 1944, a German V2 rocket came down in a field in Yalding.

It exploded, injuring one person seriously, and five others slightly. One hundred homes in the village were damaged.

Now, starting on Monday, August 15, experts from Research Resource Archaeology will be on site to see what fragments they can unearth of one of Hitler's deadliest weapons - and they are inviting the public to go along and watch.

This particular V2 was launched from The Hague in Holland, then in German hands. The team have mapped out the rocket's trajectory on the ground.

The first step will be to cut a shallow trench at right angles to the rocket's path in order to determine the size of the original crater, which today only appears as a slight dip in the ground.

Then the team will dig out probably only one quadrant of the crater.

Part of a V2 recovered from a previous dig in Platt
Part of a V2 recovered from a previous dig in Platt

The dig will take four days on site, and probably many months afterwards as they painstakingly clean, identify and record any parts they find, before a report is made to the Kent Historical Environment records manager at KCC.

Colin and Sean Welch, the brothers who run Research Resource Archaeology, which specialises in digs on Second World War sites, said the Yalding V2 was particularly intriguing, because wartime records measured the crater it left at 20m in diameter.

Colin Welch said in their experience that's almost twice as big as usual.

He said that in the many other V2 digs they had carried out, only one had a similarly large crater - that was at Lynsted, near Sittingbourne.

There they discovered many identifiable parts of the rocket in much larger pieces and better condition than usual - normally the rocket is pretty much destroyed in its own explosion.

The location of the Yalding V2
The location of the Yalding V2
The field in Yalding where a V2 rocket landed in 1944. The flags set out the lines of a planned archaeological dig by Research Resource Archaeology (58417980)
The field in Yalding where a V2 rocket landed in 1944. The flags set out the lines of a planned archaeological dig by Research Resource Archaeology (58417980)

They are hoping for similar success in Yalding. An electronic survey of the site has revealed there are items waiting to be found beneath the surface, but Colin Welch said: "What we can't be sure of is that they are not just bits of old rubbish."

Mr Welch said: "Too many people go treasure hunting on sites like this with their metal detectors, then sell their finds on e-Bay. That is irresponsible, and just means that knowledge is lost."

The dig is being sponsored by HE Services, and the muscle-power is being provided by Pearson TQ, a construction training company that trains Royal Engineer Sappers.

Read all about Kent's Doodlebug summer

Usually, Research Resource Archaeology provide a direct video link from the dig to local schools, so children can follow the progress and use it as a history lesson.

The team conducted a dig for a V2 at St Mary's Platt last September, it created great excitement among the children at Platt Primary, Borough Green Primary and Balgowan Primary in Beckenham, who watched live broadcasts every day, but this dig is happening during the school holidays.

So instead, everyone is invited to pop in and see what is going on.

Colin Welch of Research Resource Archaeology
Colin Welch of Research Resource Archaeology

Mr Welch said: "We'd be happy to see villagers calling in - after all its their history!"

There will be Health and Safety restrictions in place. The site is in the rear garden of Beultside, Lees Road, Yalding, the home of Mr and Mrs Sean Matthews, who have given permission for the dig to go ahead. The post-code is ME18 6HB.

The V2 was an unmanned rocket, so fortunately there is no possibility of unearthing any human remains.

It was the world’s first long-range guided ballistic missile.

Travelling at speeds above 2,700mph - three and a half-times the speed of sound - there was no warning of its arrival: the civilian population simply experienced a sudden enormous explosion.

A V2 rocket on a mobile launching pad
A V2 rocket on a mobile launching pad

There was no defence against the missiles - Allied aircraft and anti-aircraft fire were far too slow to keep up.

The Germans made 5,200 of the deadly rockets, and launched 1,402 of them against England - targetting London.

They are believed to have killed 2,754 civilians and injured another 6,523.

Ivy Millichamp, 34, of Kynaston Road, Orpington, in Kent, who was the last English civilian to be killed on home soil during the war, was killed by a V2 landing on her home.

The Yalding V2 thankfully came down in a field some distance from any housing.

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