Remains of a Nazi V2 terrorist rocket unearthed in St Mary’s Platt
A team of expert archaeologists successfully discovered the remains of a German V2 terrorist rocket 77 years after it exploded in a Kent field at speeds of up to 3,300 mph.
Colin and Sean Welch, who head Research Resource Archeology, began digging in St Mary’s Platt on Monday and discovered the first remains on Tuesday after digging a 9.5m hole.
Colin Welch of Research Resource Archeology explains the findings
This is the sixth V2 site the team is working on, but Colin Welch explained that every dig is different.
He said: “The rockets would enter the earth at an angle, in this case a trajectory of about 70 degrees. We would generally expect to find the most remains on the side of the crater furthest from the point of entry, but when we dug it in the weather there was nothing. “
Instead, the team found that a bed of ragstone had stopped the rocket from moving underground, so it was closer to the point of impact.
On Tuesday afternoon, the excavator loaned to them and managed by HE Services unearthed the first major discovery – part of the rocket’s combustion chamber.
It was the powerhouse that mixed liquid oxygen with alcohol and produced enough power to send rockets traveling at speeds of up to 3,300 miles per hour.
Sean Welch explained, “Their rockets were traveling so fast. If they hit you, they would never have known.”
All the remains are covered in rust and grime, and it is not until the excavation is complete that the real work begins.
Each item will be meticulously cleaned and treated with anti-rust chemical solvents to restore it to as perfect as possible condition, a process that can take 18 months.
Eventually, if the brothers succeed in securing a grant, the pieces recovered from St Mary’s Platt will be exhibited in an online museum along with 3D photographs along with those recovered from other V2 excavations in Marden, Lynsted, Cliffe Woods, Ham Street and Horton. Kirby.
In all cases, a report on the results will be prepared and filed with the county historical records officer.
What they hope to uncover are some of the Nazis’ secret source codes, stamped in three letters on various components of the rocket.
Since the war, the meaning of the codes has been discovered, meaning that each item could be related to the factory where it was made.
Sean Welch said some parts of the V2 were made in Czechoslovakia, but the rocket turbopumps were made at a single factory in Austria.
Mr Welch said: “If only we had known this then, we could have bombed this factory and solved the V2 threat.”
St Mary’s Platt V2 only took a few minutes to reach England from its launch site in Holland. It exploded at midnight on February 14, 1944.
Fortunately, he landed in an open field and there were no casualties.
However, it left a crater that the war authorities recorded as being about 38 feet wide, 32 feet long and 14 feet deep.
As in previous sites, the recovered remains of St Mary’s Platt were at a level deeper than the original crater.
The excavation team broadcast live data from the excavation three times a day to children in three interested elementary schools.
Sean Welch said: “They were very successful. The kids were looking forward to each broadcast.”
Sean Welch talks about the search
He said, “Education is our raison d’être.
The schools concerned are Platt Elementary School, Borough Green Elementary School and Balgowan Elementary School in Beckenham.
Throughout the excavation, the brothers are aided by a team of former royal engineers who now work for Pearson TQ, the Swanley-based construction skills training company.
So were the Nazi terrorist rockets – the V1 and V2 – a success for the Germans? In total, around 3,000 V2 rockets were launched, causing around 9,000 deaths in the UK.
But each rocket took 30 tons of potatoes to produce the alcohol needed for a launch, at a time when the country was suffering from extreme food shortages, as well as significant engineering resources that had to be diverted from other war productions.
Sean Welch said: “Their worth was probably more psychological, giving the Germans hope after the war turned against them.”
Research Resource Archeology won the 2018 Council for Kentish Archeology Outstanding Archaeological Effort Award, for its work at the V2 Impact Site at Lynsted, near Sittingbourne.
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