V2 Rocket (Wasp) Vowler Road 1944

There have been various mentions on this website of the V2 rocket that fell in Vowler Road in 1944.  The following information in italics was kindly supplied by archivist Denise Rowling:-

The “bomb” that fell was described as a “wasp”, this is the V2.  The V1 was described as a “fly” before they knew what they were or gained the name “doodlebug”.

Date:- 13.11.44.  Time – 22.22.  Reported – 23.38.  Location – Vowler Road, Langdon Hills. MR 123066.  Causative – WASP.

Details of Damage:-  Many casualties and widespread damage to properties.  5 Houses completely demolished, 6 seriously damaged, approx. 250 slightly damaged.  Damage to overhead electric cables and telephones.  Size of crater 38ft x 20ft.

Casualties:-  Killed – 1 woman.  Seriously Injured – 6 women, 1 man, 1 child.  Slightly Injured – 15 women, 13 men, 6 children.

Action Taken:- Mobile unit with Dr Campbell, Rescue Parties, Ambulances and SC cars attended.  IC appointed (in charge).  Trapped people released.  Casualties sent to hospital or FA Posts.  Rest Centre opened in Senior School Laindon.  Military assisted with searchlights.  Tea car and Mobile Canteen manned WVS.  Clerk and Public Utilities Services notified.  Homeless persons accommodated,  FA repair effected.  Other services on spot:  Warden, Police, Fire, Messengers.

The 1949 survey map for Vowler Road shows two new properties in the space where the rocket had fallen, named as Trivoli, Bolton or Ordeander (Plot Nos. 119 and 120 on the map.  Plot 118 is described as Waste Land).

Next door was the bungalow called ‘Hewfy’ (plot No. 121 on the map), where two women lived, apparently both school teachers.  (The 1929 Electoral Register names them as Edith Fyffe and Beatrice Hewett).  One of the women, Edith Fyffe was injured during the V2 incident and died the following day in Billericay Hospital.

The 1953 Electoral Register shows Beatrice Hewett was still living there but it seems this bungalow was at some point re-named ‘Ringwood’

The 1955 Electoral Register shows Ada & Edward Marchant living in Ordeander.  Muriel and Henry Cordwell living in ‘Lynton’ and Rose and Francis Blackford plus Alice Bonnett living in ‘Ringwood’.

The bungalow called ‘Shelagh’ that was situated in Berry Lane, north of ‘Hewfy’ is shown as Plot No. 96 on the map and was occupied by Grace and Ivan Emson.

Details of the names of other properties destroyed or damaged and those injured are not known at present.  Any information in this connection would be very much appreciated. 

Editor:  Click on the maps below to enlarge the images.

Map showing Plot numbers.
BDC 1949 Survey.
Names and descriptions of plots.
BDC 1949 Survey.

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  • Editor. Are the children of Alfred and Elizabeth listed in the correct order? The reason for my query is as follows. I was born in 1934. Your comment states that Kenneth Lockett was born in 1935. This corresponds with my memory as I played table tennis with Kenny Lockett at the Youth Centre and always assumed he was a year younger than I. (Somewhere in these archives is a comment that he is (or was!) alive and well and retired somewhere in the west country.) Betty Lockett was the same age as I and was in my class at Langdon Hills. So she had to be born, presumably, in 1934. Yet your listing of the children has her born before Robert, Thomas, Margaret, and Kenneth. This would place Betty born about 1931 in which case she could never have been in my class. Or perhaps my memory is becoming increasingly fallible — which may indeed be the case.

    Editor: The maiden name of Alfred Lockett’s wife Elizabeth was ‘Freeman’. Below is a list of their ten children as shown on the Birth, Deaths and Marriages records which are online.

    It would appear that, as Margaret was born in 1934, she may be the girl you remember in your class.

    Births 1921 – Lockett Albert J Freeman Bethnal G.
    Births 1922 – Lockett Frederick R Freeman Bethnal G.
    Births 1924 – Lockett Doris E Freeman Bethnal G
    Births 1926 – Lockett Ivy F Freeman Romford
    Births 1928 – Lockett Betty J I Freeman Romford
    Births 1930 – Lockett Robert S Freeman Orsett
    Births 1932 – Lockett Thomas E Freeman Orsett
    Births 1934 – Lockett Margaret J Freeman Orsett
    Births 1935 – Lockett Kenneth W Freeman Orsett
    Births 1940 – Lockett Christine J Freeman Brentwood

    By Alan Davies (07/09/2018)
  • Further to the editor’s comments, I recall that “Stanley Villa” was the other half of a pair of semi’s (still standing). Basildon Council owned “Stanley Villa” from the mid 50’s. When my wife and I moved into Vowler Road, an elderly lady lived in “Stanley Villa” and passed away around 15 years ago. As Jack’s first name was Albert, I wonder if he re-named the house when he took possession. The first person to live in our house was a Mr William Holme (after whom this house was named). He has a commemorative plaque in the wall on the left hand side of the Methodist church’s side wall. The plaque is dedicated to his wife.

    Editor:- Going back a little further, I found the family on the 1939 Register living at Stanley Villa, Vowler Road. According to the online records, the family appear to have moved to the Langdon Hills area between 1928 and 1930. Before that, they had been living in Romford. Albert E Lockett and his wife Elizabeth had 10 children. Albert J (born 1921), Frederick, Doris, Ivy, Betty, Robert, Thomas, Margaret, Kenneth (born 1935) and Christine (born 1940). Going forward to the 1989 Electoral Register, Albert J Lockett is listed as living in Vowler Road, the number of house is given but the name of the house isn’t mentioned. However, the name ‘Stanley Villa’ was on the front of that house until a few years ago when the then owners did the house up, redecorated and removed the name sign. I hope all this helps.

    By John Mansford (03/09/2018)
  • My next door neighbour, Jack Lockett (Albert) who passed away in April 2009 spoke to me about his recollections of houses In Vowler Road being destroyed during the war by a bomb. When Jack was alive, the house (where he lived from childhood with and cared for his parents until they died) was called “Albert Villa”, Not sure about the “Stanley Villa”. I understand that Jack’s house was built around the same time as our own house – 1907. Jack did mention that he has once lived in Berry Lane.

    Editor. This is interesting. The pair of semis in Vowler Road were called, Stanley Villa and Norman Villa. The Electoral Register shows the Lockett family living in Stanley Villa. I have been unable to trace Albert Villa on the Electoral Register, but I will keen looking.

    By John Mansford (03/09/2018)
  • Thanks Don, I guess that it was around 65 years ago that my parents told me the name of that plum type fruit and since then I have never come across any mention of it anywhere.
    … expect that I have been spelling the name wrong all this time…………. I’m sure that I will sleep easier from now on

    By Bruce Bellamy (15/01/2018)
  • A note to Bruce Bellamy – Try looking up the name “Bullace”. It is a member of the plum family, closely related to the greengage etc. Not commonly cultivated today but can be found in many old hedgerows growing as a wild tree.

    By Don Joy (09/01/2018)
  • Bruce, the derelict house opposite the Corner Shop (Lungley’s) was not the result of bombing. We always referred to it as the haunted house. It has several mentions in these archives but I am still finding my way around the new site and am unable to direct you where to find it. We moved to Laindon in 1935 (I was born in 1934) and it was derelict when we arrived. It’s a bit of a mystery. I would have thought that, with housing such a problem, there would have been some attempt to make it habitable. As I remember it was quite large, two floors, with walls and roof essentially sound. At least it was when I knew it. Yes, I also remember the fruit trees.

    By Alan Davies (30/12/2017)
  • Very interesting seeing that map. I grew up in Ferndale Road off Berry Lane and was very familiar with most of that area between Berry Lane and the High Road and was a regular user of ‘The cinder path’ (between Berry Lane by Lungleys shop and Bristow Road) but I was never aware that there was nominally a road called ‘Coburg ‘ Road running through the bushes towards Florence Road. There was though, always a grassy overgrown area that seems to conform to where this ‘road’ should be. Fascinating, that after seventy years I learn this about the area that I thought I knew so well.. I do remember the bombed house in Vowler Road but never knew that it was a V2. That one must have fell well short of its target. There was also the remnants of a burnt out-bombed-or derelict house on the corner of Berry lane opposite Lungleys shop, part of the overgrown garden held many plum like fruit trees that my parents told me were ‘Bullas’ but I have never found that term in any literature on fruit trees. They were delicious, small yellow and very sweet.

    By Bruce Bellamy (30/12/2017)
  • A fascinating article. I was talking to my Father about the war, and he was telling me that a V2 had landed in Vowler Road. I looked it up and, and there it was. His name is Kenny Cannon, and he grew up in Stevenage, Berry Lane. He remembers Alan Davies from Langdon Hills School, and from Chelmsford Tech. He also remembers the other people mentioned in your comments, and sends his regards. He has lived in Billericay since 1963.

    By Elizabeth Cannon (26/12/2017)
  • A fascinating article with some interesting comments by Alan Davies. My Grandparents Albert and Elizabeth Lockett lived at “Stanley Villa” in Vowler Road with their ten children. Albert and Elizabeth were born and married in London. I don’t know when they moved to Laindon but Alan Davies states the Locketts lived in “Stanley Villa” in the 1940’s. I don’t recall ever hearing mention of the V2 Rocket. Perhaps they moved in after 1944.

    By Bob Connell (15/05/2016)
  • Bob, I do not know when your grandparents moved to Laindon but I would have thought it was 1939 or earlier. The reason being that I started at Langdon Hills Primary School in 1939 and Betty Lockett was in my class. The only other Lockett I remember was Betty’s younger brother Kenny Lockett. We both played table tennis for the Laindon Youth Centre. A few years ago I heard that he was retired and living in the west country.

    By Alan Davies (15/05/2016)
  • I can only assume that the 1949 survey map used differs markedly from the reality in November 1944. Florence Road did not exist nor did any of the properties shown. Berry Lane is not shown, nor Beatrice Road nor Raglan Road. We lived in “Lowlands” Raglan Road which was “through the bushes” about fifty yards northeast of the Emson’s in “Shelagh”, plot 96. There were only two bungalows in Raglan Road which was not a road at all but a footpath through a field cum jungle of hawthorn. 

    I was ten years old at the time. Every window in our bungalow was blown out, the roof lifted, turned about fifteen degrees and dropped back down. A tarpaulin was later thrown over the roof and pegged to the ground. The outside loo was blown on its side which made for some hilarious moments until my father managed to right it. The bungalow had asbestos ceilings. The ceiling above my youngest brother’s cot split in pieces and two jagged pieces fell either side of his head. In effect making a steeple over him. He was six months old. My parents thought he was dead. Removing the pieces of asbestos, they found him sound asleep. The bungalow remained this way until we were awarded a new council house in January 1947 and moved to 2, King Edward Terrace.

    I remember very well the WVS and their customized lorry dispensing free cups of tea. That lasted for two days! The Hayes family lived on the corner of Vowler Road and Berry Lane. This may be plot 118 on the survey map. Mr Hayes was the projectionist, later manager, of the Radion.

    By Alan Davies (13/05/2016)
  • A few further thoughts from the murky cellar of childhood memories. The last several plots on the south side of Vowler Road, possibly 113/13/15/16, were wasteland up to 1947 when we left the area. The first bungalow, heading east, was probably plot 112. Although I forget the name of the bungalow, it housed the Samson family. Running south, alongside the Samson property was a footpath through the hawthorn jungle which allowed access to and from Emanuel Road. Emanuel Road, at the time, did not run through to Berry Lane but was blocked by hawthorn too thick even for us young lads to crawl through.

    Toward the High Road end of Vowler Road, probable plot 102 or 103 was a bungalow named “Col-Mar” or something approximating that. I never knew the residents but always stopped to admire the property. The house was painted white and garden, flowers, hedges, were always immaculate. Laindon was light years from being called a chocolate box village but “Col-Mar” was surely the most attractively maintained bungalow and garden in the area. I was back in the UK last year and took a walk along Vowler Road. “Col-Mar” is still there but no longer is attractive as it once was.

    On last year’s walk along Vowler Road, I stopped to chat with a man working in his front yard. It may have been “Stanley Villa” (where the Lockett family lived in the 1940’s). I mentioned the V2 falling in November 1944. He was only vaguely aware of the event and, until I verified it as fact, had apparently categorized it among other old wives tales. So it would seem the event hardly happened as far as the present residents of Vowler Road are aware.

    By Alan Davies (13/05/2016)

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