The devastating and prolonged ‘last gasp’ of the air campaign against Britain has since spawned a wealth of curios and militaria relating to Hitler’s terror-inducing ‘vengeance weapons’
Often just a cursory endnote in war histories, it’s worth remembering that, far from being the last splutters of the dying Nazi beast, the V-weapon campaign against Britain lasted longer than the main 1940-41 Blitz. It was also the bloody birth of a technology that went on to herald space exploration and that continues to pose a threat.
Exactly a week after D-Day, on June 13, 1944, Londoners looked to the night sky and cheered. A long flame and sudden crash led them to believe they had just watched a German bomber being shot down. But this was not the case. They had, in fact, just witnessed the world’s first operational cruise missile making its devastating arrival in the capital, killing eight of their fellow Britons. In Civil Defence reports, it was labelled ‘fly’but, within weeks, the new weapon gained several new names: doodlebug, buzz bomb or, simply, flying bomb. The latter was technically accurate, as the weapon was the first unmanned winged weapon to attack Britain. Hitler also approved of its unofficial name, Vergeltungswaffe Eins (Vengeance Weapon 1/V1).