Monthly Archives: March 2020


We’re taking part again this year in #Archive30 a social media campaign organised by the Archives and Records Association Scotland and taken up by archives and special collections around the world. This year’s campaign will be all the more poignant because we’re working from home, without access to our collections.

There is a daily theme for each day in April, highlighting various aspects of our wonderful collections

You can follow on Twitter using the hashtag #Archive30 and our Twitter feed is @BrunelSpecColl

75 years since last V1 flying bomb attacks

By Antonia Fernandes and Zoe Farace (special collections volunteers)

BURN 2:118 Burkin

The V1 flying bomb attacks took place from June 1944 – 29th March 1945. The V1’s were a bomb of German design, distinctive for the sound they made hence giving them the name ‘doodlebugs’ (sometimes also known as ‘buzz bombs’). The V1’s were an unmanned gyro-guided plane which delivered high grade explosives to the intended target.

In a BBC recollections post, a writer who wished to remain anonymous spoke of his experience with the V1 attacks. He recalls how he

“cannot forgive Winston Churchill […] for saying the V1 was just a random terror weapon, an inaccurate missile tossed randomly at London without much regard for its accuracy”

as he was caught up in several near misses and knew of many who had perished in the deadly firebombs. He also referred to the noise of the V1, describing how one would hear the bomb closely approaching, a moment of silence then a deafening explosion. He describes the terror of this moment, potentially in-between life and death and how

“If one lived to hear the explosion there was such gratitude to The Almighty”.

Several of the autobiographies in our Burnett Archive recall the terror of the flying bombs. This account, by Kay Garrett, talks about the uncertainty of what was happening, and how it resulted in local children being evacuated.

BURN 2:305 Garrett

May Rainer remembers her daughter’s terror of the bombs, and having to sit important school exams at the same time.

BURN 2:644 Rainer

Charles Sanderson recalls how they had to take cover when they heard the sound of the ‘buzz bomb’ engine cutting out.

BURN 2:688 Sanderson

As they were unmanned rockets, the V1’s were often launched from the coast of France or strapped alongside German planes such as the Luftwaffe Heinkel, however only a small number of such bomb carrying planes were produced. The last V1 bomb struck on the 29th March 1945 in Swanscombe, Kent.  

Although our reading room is currently closed, much of the Burnett Archive has been digitised and is available. Please contact us if you are interested in this. An index is available on the collection’s webpage.