V1 Flying Bombs at Shoreham

It turns out that three past and present Shoreham residents Brian Bazen, Denis Turrell and I are linked in a surprising set of coincidences. Earlier this year I was looking through Bob Hill’s collection of Old Shoreham photographs (he wrote the booklets ‘Old Shoreham Village & Farms’) in Marlipins Museum and found one of a V1 flying bomb (they were known generally as doodlebugs) that was taken through a window.

Part of the Bob Hill Collection

That looked iffy for a start – how could anyone be ready with a camera at the very point in time that a V1 happened by and click the shutter quickly enough to capture it? It all seemed extremely suspect. Was the photo a hoax, had it been tampered with before being given to the Museum? With today’s sophisticated photo editing computer programmes it is not difficult to fake photographs but these were collected by a reputable author and historian many years ago when photo editing without computers was difficult.


I know that view of the rooftops well which is not Old Shoreham at all but in the town. It shows the roof of today’s car bodywork repair garage in Middle Street, beyond it the roofs of the Royal Sovereign pub (right) and its neighbour (then one house and now split into two properties). The latter is easily recognisable by its two distinctly dissimilar dormer windows.


The view in 1944 compared with today.


I could see that the photo was taken from the southernmost, rear window on the first floor of our old house in Church Street and shortly after we moved there some twenty years ago I was contacted by Denis Turrell, an earlier resident, who was able to give me information on the history of the occupants and the building. He was there during the 1930’s and 40’s and his bedroom was the same room that the V1 photo was taken from although I didn’t know that when I spoke to him and we have since lost contact. I found Denis to be a genuine chap and, if it was him that took the photo, I have no reason whatsoever to think he would have wanted, or even had the expertise necessary then, to alter it.


The only recorded instances I know of V1s actually impacting on the area (there were many that overflew on their way, presumably, towards London) was on 13th July 1944 near Lancing Chapel and the 5th November 1944 at the top of Eastern Avenue. The V1 in the photo is not falling (once their engines cut out the nose-heavy machines would plummet head first). Its sillhouette is unclear although this is to be expected as it was travelling at speed. V1’s normally had straight, level flying attitudes pointed towards London but this one seems to be banking and is in fact flying southwards, away from the capital!

The Original Photo


No convincing arguments in favour of a genuine photo there then, that is until the discovery of an article by Shoreham resident Brian Bazen of his wartime reminiscences in the Daily Telegraph’s ‘Britain at War’ series. The V1 that hit Eastern Avenue actually exploded on Brian’s allotment there which is coincidence enough but he also goes on to say on another occasion ‘I actually saw a doodlebug being nudged by the wing of a British fighter, and watched it turn back out to sea. I was disbelieved, but I actually saw it happen!’ Could this have been the Middle Street doodlebug and did Denis Turrell photograph it?


V1 engines had a noisy and distinctive sound that warned of their approach, add to that the fighter aircraft’s engine noise and the time it took to turn the missile then there may well have been sufficient warning for a photograph to be taken.


Some V1s that were ‘nudged’ off course didn’t always crash immmediately but, because their gyros were affected, would start circling and losing height. The Shoreham V1 is very low and looks to be banking in the same way, perhaps in a wide circle towards the sea.


The image has been checked by a photographic expert who confirms there is nothing in the image that suggests it is technically a fake and further examination revealed even more surprises. Compared with most photos of flying bombs, and unless there is some optical distortion, the silhouette indicates a slightly longer nose and tapered wings – there is a conflict of opinion on this, some hold that operational V1s never had tapered wings wheras others say they were used for a while only in the early stages of the attacks on London. Photos of V1s with tapered wings are scarce, if not completely non existent.


All in all, and if this is a genuine untouched photo, something of a rare discovery perhaps.


Roger Bateman

22nd July 2017


10 Replies to “V1 Flying Bombs at Shoreham”

  1. My grandfather often told the story of a flying bomb landing on his alotment at the back of Buckingham road school.

  2. Thanks Terry – if you’ve got more to add about your grandfather’s reminiscences of that flying bomb we’d be pleased to hear about it.

  3. This is a very interesting story… is it real, or is it a fake? If it is real – it is a truly amazing snatched frame – a window of opportunity that was perfectly framed to the second, without any pre-warning when it would appear.

    The V1 looks to be going southwards, and banking, and ascending… three positions that don’t tally with the norm – V1’s headed north, in a straight line, at a constant altitude until the approach to the target. If this was a legitimate image – and it looks very convincing photographically, then the V1 would have crashed soon afterwards having been de-stabilised and veering off course back over the sea or circling Shoreham. Is there any record of a V1 hitting Shoreham or Lancing? certainly this one is heading away from Eastern Avenue.. unless it did a full circle and came down going North again. If it was the Eastern Avenue V1 then this is a remarkable photograph.

    A real quandry.

    1. I lived at 94 Eastern Avenue and my husband lived at 81 when the doodlebug fell in the allotments. No. 81 is almost opposite where it fell. I was 7 and my husband was 8 at the time. We had no houses in front of us at 94 and the blast split our 2inch oak front door in half and blew it off and all the windows were blown in with glass embedded in the walls opposite and all over the beds. My husband was making a wooden toy using a hacksaw at the time and the hacksaw was never found. His back door was blown off and hit him on the head and pushed him from the kitchen up the hall. We still say how lucky we were and our families.

      1. An amazing reminiscence thank you Ann. What is generally forgotten is that greatest damage caused by V1s was the destruction caused by the blast as you relate.

  4. I remember well the V1 that crashed near Lancing college.
    i was a pupil at the Middle Road boys school and when the siren sounded had to run around the east end of the school and across the playing field to get to the air raid shelters at the west end of the field.
    The V1 was quite low and I remember the boys throwing themselves to the ground as it went overhead to the west.
    Once it had passed we carried on running to the shelters and despite the teachers shouting for us to get into the shelters a lot of us clambered on top (they were concrete shelters half under and half above ground), to watch the it fall and see the smoke from the explosion.
    The teachers were far from happy for ignoring them.

      1. I am somewhat puzzled by the reference to the V1 at Eastern Ave. on Nov.5th 1945. the war was over by then.

  5. My Father was on leave from the Navy and he was telling me about all the bonfire celebrations and fireworks that they used to have before the war on the 5th November. Suddenly we heard a stuccato noise approaching overhead,knowing what it was and with no time to go to the shelter we all dived under the Dining Room Table, the noise stopped as the engine cut out and there was a silence for about 5 seconds then a terrific explosion which blew in our French Doors breaking the lock but not the taped up glass. That was the biggest banger that I have ever heard on Guy Fawkes Day !

  6. It is interesting to read the claims as to whose allotment the VI bomb of 5 November 1944 (not 1945) paid a visit. I saw the crater and it was large enough to cover at least three allotments. It certainly hit my Uncle Les Scott’s. He had that morning just planted his cabbages and they, and the soil just disappeared.
    My uncle seemed to draw Herr Hitler’s rage because his house on Upper Shoreham Road was twice hit with bombs.

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