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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;
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.
EDIT 10 OCTOBER 2012
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.
FLYING BOMBS OVER THE PENNINES by Peter J C Smith (1988)
Malcolm Bull’s Calderdale Companion (2011)
Soundfile source; timewitnesses.org/english/doodbug.html
B&W photo below from here;