V1 Flying Bomb Site, Sowerby, West Yorkshire

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V1 Flying Bomb Site, Sowerby, West Yorkshire

For an overview of this air attack including map of where the V1s fell and links to other sites visited, please see here;
V1 Overview

On Christmas Eve 1944, at between 0500 and 0600, 45 Doodlebugs were launched from underneath adapted Heinkel He111 bombers flying over the North Sea. The Luftwaffe bombers released their V1s aimed at Manchester, then turned back to base. Many of the missiles landed harmlessly. The worst was at Abbey Hills Road in Oldham, where 27 people were killed.

One landed at the hamlet of Hubberton Green, Sowerby (near Halifax), just behind Little Toothill Farm. There were no immediate casualties, the farmer, Mr John Carter, was blown out of his bed and one end of the farm needed rebuilding. However his wife died some months later, her demise possibly brought on by the shock. (One source gives the name of the farmer at Little Toothill Farm as a Mr Bottomley. Please see October 2012 edit below which confirms the Carters were at Little Toothill at the time).

Below; Bomb damage to Little Toothill Farm.

Below; Across from Little Toothill Farm is Toothill End Farm, visible in my lead photo which was taken from the impact point of the V1.


The farmer, a Mr Booth, kindly showed me where the Doodlebug fell. The bomb left a crater 26 feet across and four deep, but it has long been filled in. He said it had recently been mentioned in the local press, but they got the wrong spot. His father had told him of the attack; he said the field had been ploughed which softened the blow, minimising damage and casualties and causing the earth to concertina back from the impact point. There was some damage to his farm, as well as the windows being blown out, all the slates on the roof were pushed up, stacked like decks of playing cards, he said.

Mr Booth also dug out a covering letter from the War Damage Commission dated December 28th 1944 and a claim form called a C1. The form should have been completed and returned for compensation but wasn’t, perhaps because it was up to the property owner to make good the repairs before any payout would be made, and that could take time.

Below; Detail of the War Damage Commission form C1.
It refers to “Blast from flying bomb in field” and underneath says “Crater in ploughed field – stretch of dry stone wall”

At the scene, German propaganda leaflets were scattered about and there were fragments of the bomb, painted red on the inside. Mr Booth said that the area was cordoned off as the remains were cleared. He recalled his father saying that one witness some miles to the south of this spot had seen the missile approach from the direction of Holmfirth (it was still dark at that time of morning, but they could see the glow from the pulsejet engine) before it disappeared from view. A few moments later they saw a flash, and then heard the noise of the explosion reverberate around the valley.

Below; 800 metres from the impact point, St Mary’s Church at Cottonstones was damaged. Reparations were made through the War Damage Commission, the money being used to re-point the tower.

I have received an e-mail from John Needham who has kindly provided the following details from the Halifax Courier of 28th April 1945 and from the same of 23rd June 1945;
At the time of the air attack, Little Toothill Farm was occupied by Mr John Carter and his wife. Mrs Mary Carter died the following June, a piece in the Courier entitled ‘Echo of V1 Bomb – Death of Woman who Suffered from Shock’ states that she “suffered from shock and never recovered”.

Update 22 May 2022. The name and further details about Mr and Mrs Carter are kindly provided by author Jan Gore. The couple married in 1888. They had two sons, one of whom died in Belgium in 1917. Mr Carter survived his wife and died aged 80, as Jan says, “having lost both his younger son and his wife to two world wars.”


Link below is to a sound file of a V1 Flying Bomb passing overhead before the engine cuts out and there’s the awful silence before the thing impacts.

Malcolm Bull’s Calderdale Companion (2011)
Soundfile source; timewitnesses.org/english/doodbug.html
B&W photo below from here;

26 comments on “V1 Flying Bomb Site, Sowerby, West Yorkshire
  1. Pleasureprinciple2012 says:

    That’s an excellent write up Ian, made all the better by the other photos which add more "flesh" to the story. I had a DVD film from the IWM that featured the doodlebugs flying overhead and then the deathly silence where everybody would rush indoors as soon as the engine cut out, knowing the impact was going to take place close by. Great stuff, the story that is, not the V1’s!

    (Still trying to remember the name of the propaganda film, think it was maybe called "Doodlebug Summer"??)

  2. mojo_black says:

    A great set of pictures, that farmer seems a very helpful chap.

  3. rob of rochdale says:

    Cracking stuff Ian and how great for the farmer to be so helpful.

    Love the pov even without the text. The cow looks totally bemused! 🙂

  4. **Hazel** says:

    An amazing series of shots Ian and the narration is really interesting!! Well done to the farmer!!!

    I hope you have a wonderful Easter Weekend!!!!!!:-)

  5. nondesigner59 says:

    Great Photos Thanks for sharing them.
    Seen in my contacts photos..

  6. Tech Owl says:

    You really are Mr Detective Ian! Great series of notes, images and reporting

  7. pasujoba says:

    This is amazing Ian , terrific research , there really is a big story about this night .
    My parents both long gone now told me of the sound of doodlebugs passing above ….they must have heard them this night !

  8. mick cooke says:

    brilliant ian my dad was in the r.a.f when on leave he used to go to the local pub , and sit in the blackout at night naming the planes coming over the valley to bomb rolls royce in derby , he said it got him many a free pint mum said he used to come home sozzled many a night these sort of stories are history, carry on with them there brilliant

  9. SolarScot. says:

    fascinating story Ian

  10. C J Paul (chris) says:

    brilliant work ian

  11. Ian D B says:


    Thanks everyone. With the internet we have the opportunity to record these tales our parents and grandparents told us without the hassle of going to a publisher. It’s just up to us to get ’em online before we forget the details altogether!

  12. cgullz says:

    love the peace abiding cow taking the stage. a great way to show off that all is not as it seems, that this cow and peacetime layer what must have been a shocking time for the locals. awesome effort here as always Ian.

    keeping history alive

    in: Traces of War

  13. Ian D B says:

    Thank you very much!

  14. same again ian, as with west hill pub, vaguely heard about it,very well done.

  15. Leonard Coles says:

    My Auntie took my brother and I to Field Farm Hubberton during the
    warso that we would be away from the bombing.We used to live just
    ouside London. My Aunt used to live there but married my mothers
    brother and moved down south. Her name was Ivy Hall,Her husdand was
    killed,and she decided to return with her young baby to her parents
    at Field Farm.I went to school at Sowerby Bridge in about 1942.My neice who lives near Morley wants to take me back in the summer of
    this year.

  16. Martyn Fearon says:

    Hi there, been trying to find info on something some of the older locals of my area have mentioned to me here in Dewsbury. They remember an “aircraft” coming down in a place just across the valley from here, in Briestfield. All those asked state it was a V-1 though it wasn’t publicised at the time. We’re none too far from Sowerby Bridge or as mentioned Holmfirth, most likely the same flight path. Will update if I find out anything further.

  17. Terry Reid says:

    Just discovered your site Ian, fascinating because I lived close by at the
    time,although as a nearly 6yr old I slept through the explosion! However my 11yr old brother took me to the see the crater 2 days later but we were chased away by the guards (local home guards) ? However my brother had found a small piece of shrapnel, which he later swapped for clay marbles!

    • Ian D B says:

      That’s brilliant Terry, great detail about your older brother trading marbles for a bit of V1 shrapnel!

  18. Andrew Trimbee says:

    My parents were lying in bed in their home in Savile Park, Halifax, and heard the doodlebug come over and its engine cut out. There was a long silence before a huge explosion. They heard later that it had crashed on field near Sowerby and killed some chickens!

  19. John Waddington says:

    I remember these events, I lived on the east side of the Calder valley at Luddenden Foot, an earth tremor in the late autumn caused the house to shake and I thought it was due to enemy action and was frightened. I’d heard of doodlebugs acting the London area and didn’t expect them to reach Halifax,but asleep in bed I heard the sound of the pulsa jet cease, the silence followed and then a loud explosion about 2 miles away. Being curious as an eleven year old I walked to Sowerby, found where the bomb had landed and was astonished at the huge crater, little damage to an adjacent building, but across the field the stone built farmhouse appeared to be badly damaged.The ground was frozen. I can remember the incendiary bomb damage to Warley Road junior school and the destruction of property in Hanson Lane, with the bath hanging out which I passed daily by ‘bus

  20. Peter Lammyman says:

    I was about 5 in 1943 and have a vivid memory of a V1 doodlebug passing over Sheffield about that time. My family were in a Anderson shelter in the “yard” of our house in Canada St Pitsmoor… right next to the steel works of the Don Valley. We had been evacuated to Derbyshire but returned very quickly when my mother found the conditions very poor. I remember the engine sound and everyone waiting for the engine to stop.
    I recently mentioned this to a friend and he said that V1 andV2 rockets were never dropped on Sheffield. Anyone out there who has further knowledge?

  21. Micheal Gordon says:

    Jack Lees told me in the 1960s about the loud noise of a doodlebug approaching hi hilltop house across the road from the Standard of Freedom Inn , Skircoat Green Halifax. The noise was coming from the direction of Elland and heading toward Sowerby Bridge. The engine cut out overhead and he heard an explosion about a 40 seconds later. He told me it damaged a church and a farm. Jack had a bomb shelter built after this and it was a playhouse for his son Tim and I when we were young .

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