Wartime in Brockham
The Second World War
How the people of Surrey endured as well as defended themselves against enemy action during the war in Europe is recorded in figures set out in the report of the Special War Executive Committee of the Surrey County Council. Here are extracted and collated some of the figures relating to the effect of enemy aerial bombardment:
For the Dokring Urban District council : incidents 123, HE Bombs 267, V1 19, killed 25, seriously wounded 20, slightly wounded 56, buildings demolished 15, badly damaged 65, and slightly damaged 1,512.
From Dorking and Horley Rural District: Incidents 266, HE Bombs 578, VI 49, V2 1, killed 6, seriously wounded 36, slightly wounded 101, buildings demolished 29, badly damaged 83, slightly damaged 2484.
In Brockham alone, there were 52 high explosives, 7 oil incendiaries and about 600 other incendiaries.
On 29 November 1940, a long string of bombs fell, starting at the Barley Mow (now the Arkle Manor) which was much damaged, and went up to the top of Box Hill, where the mansion of Brockham Warren was also hit.
The report mentions but does not attempt to tabulate the many thousands of incendiary bombs whicvh also fell on the Emergency areas into which the ARP and CD purposes the county was divided.
Betchworth played a big part in bearing the impact of the attack and in the last four months of 1940, 63 high explosive bombs, 3 oil bombs, and many fire bombs fell in the village. Buckland too suffered on March 9th. Buckland Lodge was hit and a woman was killed. One third of the house and two cars were destroyed. Three others were treated for their injuries.
8 May 1942: The King made a seven hour visit to Armoured Divisions in the area. First at Boxhill and Pixham Sports Grounds. The King then visited Wooton where his inspection of the troops was watched by school children. News of the King's coming had eveidently preceded him to the next place of call - Brockham Green. A number of people had lined the boundaries of the triangular Village Green on whose smoothly mown cricket ground troops units were drawn up in perfect formation.
22 May 1942: The King visited Betchworth Lime Works to witness an infantry division of the South Eastern Command on exercise. In this, a mock battle in which troops stormed a wooded height, live ammunition was used. There were two actual casualties in the mock battle, one man having a foot badly damaged when he trod on a grenade and another when who recieved splinters in both arms from another explosion.
The Doodle Bug, those that fell around Brockham
The Doodle Bug was the name given to the German Jet Propelled Pilotless Aircraft. The V1, introduced in 1944 was driven by a crude noisy engine and automatic piloting devices. It carried one ton of explosives some 200 miles. It was launched against London and eastern England from Northern France and Holland.
Against the V1 'fields' of barrage balloons and aircraft were used, and later anti-aircraft weapons massed near the coast achieved spectacular successes. Of 10,526 V1's launched, many never reached the target area and about 4300 were shot down. Seven of these doodle bugs came down in and around Brockham during July and August 1944 in the following sites:
1. Strood Green on 3 August in a field (opposite Jubille Terrace)
2 & 3. Coach Road and Pondtail Farm in 19 and 21 July
4. Nutwood Avenue in River Mole on 18 July
5 & 6. Box Hill Farm in field north of the railway on 21 July and 24 August
7. On Box Hill near the monument on 4 July
The doodle bug and its crude noisy engine could be clearly identified going overhead, but fear would strike when the engine stopped after a succession of splutters - you knew it was heading downwards.
Extracts from the Dorking Advertiser:
4 October 1940: Two houses demolished. Five killed in South East village, A number of bombs fell on Nutwood Avenue Brockham during Friday night, and one demolished adjoining houses causing casualites - five of them fatal. In one house, Mrs Daisy Hetherington, her five year old daughter June, and Wilfred Biggs, an evacuee, were killed. In the next house, Mrs Ester Eva Fisher and William John, her youngest son, age two, were killed. Mrs Fisher's elder son, age four and a half, and her sister were injured.
Mrs Hetherington's husband is serving in the RAF. Mr Fisher was away from home at the time on AFS duty. The other bombs caused no damage. A rsecue party worked heroically throughout the night to get the victims out of the debris.