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Second World War V2 rocket excavation takes place at Chattenden Woods in Cliffe Woods near Rochester


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A site near Rochester where a wartime missile landed in woods will be excavated this weekend.

The Second World War V2 rocket was created by the Nazis to wreak havoc and destruction on Britain towards the end of the conflict.

A V2 rocket launched in the summer of 1943. Picture: German Federal Archive/Wikipedia
A V2 rocket launched in the summer of 1943. Picture: German Federal Archive/Wikipedia

Archaeologists will be digging in the Great Chattenden Woods near Cliffe Woods to find out why this rocket created a considerably smaller crater than they usually did.

Colin Welch, from the Research Resource team which investigates the science behind the German weapons, is leading the dig.

He said: "The site is interesting because the average crater size is around 35ft wide, and 10ft deep – recorded at the time of impact.

"But we have looked at even bigger.

"However, this one is 27ft at its widest point, but only 5ft deep.

Colin Welch has been involved in several digs investigating V2 rocket technology including an excavation in Lynsted near Sittingbourne in 2018. Picture: John Westhrop
Colin Welch has been involved in several digs investigating V2 rocket technology including an excavation in Lynsted near Sittingbourne in 2018. Picture: John Westhrop

"Our aim is to discover why this is and to find if our correlation between crater size and finds depth means that the finds are not very deep."

The rocket impacted on November 11, 1944 at about 3.40pm – one of thousands to fall on south east England and London in the second half of the war.

Its target would almost certainly have been either Lodge Hill or Chattenden military depots, which had been used to store explosives. Both are nearby.

According to reports, it did not cause any loss of life but "destroyed trees for a radius of 55ft".

Mr Welch added: "I would anticipate that we should begin to find the rocket around lunchtime to the afternoon on the first day, with the first object being to record the crater shape by scraping back the topsoil, and then record it again in the various stages of excavation.

"We are developing a very good understanding of what goes on in terms of the physics of an impact, the missile and its manufacture."

"As we work through our excavations as a whole, we are developing a very good understanding of what goes on in terms of the physics of an impact, and the finds and finds conservation is telling us a great deal about the missile and its manufacture."

His team will be using laser digital technology and has previously worked on another much larger V2 rocket site in Lynsted near Sittingbourne which was 60ft wide by 18ft deep.

The V2 - the successor to the infamous V1 rockets known as Doodlebugs because of the humming noise before their deathly descent – were far larger and had a longer range than the V1s.

They were the world's first guided ballistic missiles and were used extensively by the German military against civilian targets in Britain and against troops following D-Day and the liberation of Europe.

Many of the scientists who worked on the projects for Adolf Hitler's regime were captured by American and Russian troops to gather intelligence on rocket technology which fuelled the space race between the two countries during the Cold War.

An estimated 9,000 civilians were killed by V2 attacks and 12,000 labourers and concentration camp prisoners died as a result of being forced to help with production of the weapons.

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