The mystery of the doodlebug

Doodlebug and doll


My great grandmother – known to my sister and I as ‘Nanny Doll’ – defined herself through her ‘apparent’ eccentricity. She had many scatty traits. Selections of cutlery lurked behind the sofa; Jellybeans would end up in the microwave; elastic bands would always be found in her toaster. However, she was also very good at storytelling.


Nanny Doll told very elaborate stories. Often, they were not believed. They would be, at times, taken as ‘false’, simply because of her eccentric characteristics. Nobody really knew if they were true or not, unless verified by a relative who was there at the time. This was the case with ‘The Doodlebug Tale’. For a long time, people wouldn’t believe her that a Doodlebug, or V-1 bomb, had fallen nearby when she had been visiting her sister Maud.


V-1’s were capable of massive damage.


Throughout the war years, Nanny Doll lived at Mile End in London. She would have been visiting her sister, Maud, between 1944 and 1945. Maud had lived in Dagenham, near the Heathway. Online a wealth of information is available concerning the V1s. The ‘family story’ – repeated a lot to my father – was meanwhile still not believed to be true.


My father would later recall that during the 1990s recent files were shown on the TV. The declassified files showed that my great grandmother, Nanny Doll, had been right all along. Having been subject to the 50-year-rule, the files had only then been made available to the public. This year marks 70 years since the start of World War Two; the Doodlebug would have been out of service for the exact same amount of time.


Residents of both Dagenham and Barking remember the terrifying time of the Doodlebug. There are many memoirs available about the V1s; clearly, it will take a lot for them to ever be fully forgotten. Schoolchildren would watch for the buzz bomb, launched from the Luftwaffe. Built under the name of ‘Cherry Stone’, the Doodlebug was however anything but harmless.


Of all the V1s launched at Southeast England, it has been estimated that there was 9,521 in total; later, they would be used in Belgium. My dear great grandmother had been telling the truth all along; the files and documents that assert and confirm her story have since been made public. Anyone wanting to read about V1s can now do so, and the tales of eccentric relatives can easily be confirmed.”


Annette Stevens

History blogger


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