Tue, 19 Oct 2021

PLATT, England: The remains of a V2 rocket fired by Nazi Germany at London during World War II have been discovered in a field in southeast England, the sixth such excavation to be carried out by archaeologist brothers Colin and Sean Welch.

The Welch brothers have also excavated the crash sites of V1 flying bombs, a predecessor to the V2s.

In the latest V2 excavation on farmland around the village of Platt near Maidstone, the researchers recovered more than 1,760 pounds of metal debris from the rocket.

Sean Welch told Live Science that the rocket struck an orchard, but landed too far away from any houses to cause injuries, though one elderly woman said that the noise from the blast damaged her hearing.

The team spent four days at the end of September using a mechanical digger and shovels to excavate the bomb crater, and will now spend up to 18 months conserving the objects before writing a report on the find for official archives.

The Nazi leadership hoped the V1 flying bombs and V2 rockets, their last-resort "wonder weapons," would turn the tide of the war that Germany was losing.

Adolf Hitler ordered the V1s and V2s to be launched at London following the Allied bombings of German cities in 1943 and 1944. They were dubbed by propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels as "revenge weapons."

The first V1 hit London on 13th June, 1944, while the first V2 struck on 7th September, 1944.

While V1s flew at about the speed of a contemporary fighter plane, V2 rockets were the first supersonic weapons and were more sophisticated.

However, V1s were much cheaper to assemble and usually exploded at ground level, rather than striking the ground, which made them more effective weapons, Colin Welch noted.

According to the Imperial War Museum in London, V2 rocket attacks against London killed some 9,000 civilians and military personnel, while both weapons killed up to 30,000 British.

After World War II, the American military captured several V2s at various stages of assembly in Germany and sent them back to the U.S., where they became the foundation of the country's fledgling space program.

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