On this day - June 13th

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First V1 hits London

The Blitz between September 1940 and May 1941 had a huge impact on British morale, and on effectiveness, as civilian life, industry, and administration were all hit by the rain of German bombs. A further mini-Blitz was started in the early part of 1944, when it was increasingly obvious that the war could not be won by Germany, in an attempt to disrupt allied plans and to press the allied leaders to seek a peaceful end to the conflict.

This attack on British morale was intensified when the Germans began launching V1 flying bombs from sites in Northern France, the weapon proving to be both devastating and extremely difficult for the allies to counter.

The V1 was a pulse-jet powered drone aircraft, unmanned, with a simple but effective guidance system using gyroscopes and timers to bring the 2,000lb bomb to its target. Launched from ski-slope ramps by powered catapults, the V1 was a cheap weapon, reasonably easy to conceal, though the allies did target storage areas and the launch sites when identified.

Eight civilians were killed by the first V1 to land on London, in Grove Road in the Mile End district. This hit the capital in the early hours of June 13, 1944.

The V1 was a very difficult weapon for the allies to defend against — in the end the allied advance in France over-ran the launch sites in September 1944, putting London out of range.

By the time this happened almost 7,000 had been launched against London, with several thousand directed at other targets in the South East. About 3,500 were destroyed by fighter planes (including some tipping the V1's wings up causing it to plummet to earth early). More than 2,000 of the flying bombs reached the capital, and the death toll from them there exceeded 6,000.

What was the popular nickname given to the V1 ?

Click here for the answer

They were known as "doodlebugs"

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