V2 Rocket (Wasp) Vowler Road 1944

By Nina Humphrey(née Burton)

There have been various mentions on this website of the V2 rocket that fell in Vowler Road in 1944.  The following information in italics was kindly supplied by archivist Denise Rowling:-

The "bomb" that fell was described as a "wasp", this is the V2.  The V1 was described as a "fly" before they knew what they were or gained the name "doodlebug".

Date:- 13.11.44.  Time - 22.22.  Reported - 23.38.  Location - Vowler Road, Langdon Hills. MR 123066.  Causative – WASP.

Details of Damage:-  Many casualties and widespread damage to properties.  5 Houses completely demolished, 6 seriously damaged, approx. 250 slightly damaged.  Damage to overhead electric cables and telephones.  Size of crater 38ft x 20ft.

Casualties:-  Killed – 1 woman.  Seriously Injured – 6 women, 1 man, 1 child.  Slightly Injured – 15 women, 13 men, 6 children.

Action Taken:- Mobile unit with Dr Campbell, Rescue Parties, Ambulances and SC cars attended.  IC appointed (in charge).  Trapped people released.  Casualties sent to hospital or FA Posts.  Rest Centre opened in Senior School Laindon.  Military assisted with searchlights.  Tea car and Mobile Canteen manned WVS.  Clerk and Public Utilities Services notified.  Homeless persons accommodated,  FA repair effected.  Other services on spot:  Warden, Police, Fire, Messengers.

The 1949 survey map for Vowler Road shows two new properties in the space where the rocket had fallen, named as Trivoli, Bolton or Ordeander (Plot Nos. 119 and 120 on the map.  Plot 118 is described as Waste Land).

Next door was the bungalow called ‘Hewfy’ (plot No. 121 on the map), where two women lived, apparently both school teachers.  (The 1929 Electoral Register names them as Edith Fyffe and Beatrice Hewett).  One of the women, Edith Fyffe was injured during the V2 incident and died the following day in Billericay Hospital.

The 1953 Electoral Register shows Beatrice Hewett was still living there but it seems this bungalow was at some point re-named ‘Ringwood’

The 1955 Electoral Register shows Ada & Edward Marchant living in Ordeander.  Muriel and Henry Cordwell living in ‘Lynton’ and Rose and Francis Blackford plus Alice Bonnett living in ‘Ringwood’.

The bungalow called ‘Shelagh’ that was situated in Berry Lane, north of ‘Hewfy’ is shown as Plot No. 96 on the map and was occupied by Grace and Ivan Emson.

Details of the names of other properties destroyed or damaged and those injured are not known at present.  Any information in this connection would be very much appreciated. 

Editor:  Click on the maps below to enlarge the images.

Photo:Map showing Plot numbers.

Map showing Plot numbers.

BDC 1949 Survey.

Photo:Names and descriptions of plots.

Names and descriptions of plots.

BDC 1949 Survey.

This page was added by Nina Humphrey(née Burton) on 12/05/2016.
Comments about this page (Add a comment about this page)

Bob, I do not know when your grandparents moved to Laindon but I would have thought it was 1939 or earlier. The reason being that I started at Langdon Hills Primary School in 1939 and Betty Lockett was in my class. The only other Lockett I remember was Betty's younger brother Kenny Lockett. We both played table tennis for the Laindon Youth Centre. A few years ago I heard that he was retired and living in the west country.

By Alan Davies
On 15/05/2016

A fascinating article with some interesting comments by Alan Davies. My Grandparents Albert and Elizabeth Lockett lived at "Stanley Villa" in Vowler Road with their ten children. Albert and Elizabeth were born and married in London. I don't know when they moved to Laindon but Alan Davies states the Locketts lived in "Stanley Villa" in the 1940's. I don't recall ever hearing mention of the V2 Rocket. Perhaps they moved in after 1944.

By Bob Connell
On 15/05/2016

A few further thoughts from the murky cellar of childhood memories. The last several plots on the south side of Vowler Road, possibly 113/13/15/16, were wasteland up to 1947 when we left the area. The first bungalow, heading east, was probably plot 112. Although I forget the name of the bungalow, it housed the Samson family. Running south, alongside the Samson property was a footpath through the hawthorn jungle which allowed access to and from Emanuel Road. Emanuel Road, at the time, did not run through to Berry Lane but was blocked by hawthorn too thick even for us young lads to crawl through.

Toward the High Road end of Vowler Road, probable plot 102 or 103 was a bungalow named "Col-Mar" or something approximating that. I never knew the residents but always stopped to admire the property. The house was painted white and garden, flowers, hedges, were always immaculate. Laindon was light years from being called a chocolate box village but "Col-Mar" was surely the most attractively maintained bungalow and garden in the area. I was back in the UK last year and took a walk along Vowler Road. "Col-Mar" is still there but no longer is attractive as it once was.

On last year's walk along Vowler Road, I stopped to chat with a man working in his front yard. It may have been "Stanley Villa" (where the Lockett family lived in the 1940's). I mentioned the V2 falling in November 1944. He was only vaguely aware of the event and, until I verified it as fact, had apparently categorized it among other old wives tales. So it would seem the event hardly happened as far as the present residents of Vowler Road are aware.

By Alan Davies
On 14/05/2016

I can only assume that the 1949 survey map used differs markedly from the reality in November 1944. Florence Road did not exist nor did any of the properties shown. Berry Lane is not shown, nor Beatrice Road nor Raglan Road. We lived in "Lowlands" Raglan Road which was "through the bushes" about fifty yards northeast of the Emson's in "Shelagh", plot 96. There were only two bungalows in Raglan Road which was not a road at all but a footpath through a field cum jungle of hawthorn. 

I was ten years old at the time. Every window in our bungalow was blown out, the roof lifted, turned about fifteen degrees and dropped back down. A tarpaulin was later thrown over the roof and pegged to the ground. The outside loo was blown on its side which made for some hilarious moments until my father managed to right it. The bungalow had asbestos ceilings. The ceiling above my youngest brother's cot split in pieces and two jagged pieces fell either side of his head. In effect making a steeple over him. He was six months old. My parents thought he was dead. Removing the pieces of asbestos, they found him sound asleep. The bungalow remained this way until we were awarded a new council house in January 1947 and moved to 2, King Edward Terrace.

I remember very well the WVS and their customized lorry dispensing free cups of tea. That lasted for two days! The Hayes family lived on the corner of Vowler Road and Berry Lane. This may be plot 118 on the survey map. Mr Hayes was the projectionist, later manager, of the Radion.

By Alan Davies
On 13/05/2016