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Dagnam Park V2 rocket crater

 

Over the years, it has often been suggested to me that Second World War bombs created some of the ponds in the park. The idea is very easily disproved because all of the ponds within the park are shown on maps prior to the war, most of them hundreds of years before the war. There is one exception, a very small pond in Hatters wood that could conceivably be put down to a high explosive bomb, but it would be very difficult to prove.

During the Second World War, several bombs fell in and around Dagnam Park, High explosive bombs probably up to 1000lb are recorded dropping in the park and the very much lighter incendaries are recorded by Dorina Neave herself. As far as is known none of these bombs have left visible traces.

Probably the most significant “bomb” to land in the park was a V2 rocket which exploded on the 21st January 1945 at 3.17pm, between The Priory and Dagnams, it is that explosion which is blamed for the structural damage to Dagnams.

According to "Hitler v Havering", compiled by Peter Watt it was in fact 100 yards SE of Priory (I think this must be in error and should read NE) Two houses and farm buildings seriously damaged and two serious injuries. It was much closer to the Priory than to Dagnams. A memoir by the vicar of St Thomas's Church, Canon A. P. A. Gaze states that "significant damage was caused to the Priory". The explosion left a crater measuring 43' x 15' the remains of which can still be seen today.

V2s carried about 2,200 lbs of high explosive, which detonated after the rocket had penetrated the ground, depending on ground conditions they could cause a crater up to 30 metres in diameter. The 1946 aerial photograph shows the crater of the Dagnam Park rocket. The 1999 picture shows the crater still visible from the air. On the ground, a very obvious depression is still clearly visible. This depression about 30' in diameter and apx 2' deep would contain water in the winter. The retention of water has led to the colonisation of marginal water plants which pick out the depression from the surrounding meadow grasses, thistles etc. This “pond” is not shown on any maps prior to 1945 whereas all of the ponds in the park of a similar size are shown.

I suspect that an attempt was made to fill the crater shortly after the rocket exploded but the soil has subsided over the years and today the depression is clearly visible.

Alan Elkins who lived in Harold Hill through the fifties and sixties has recently informed me (2012) that he was a friend of the tenant of the North Lodge, he states that this pond/depression was on his route to the lodge and it was an obvious feature in the early sixties, so my guess that an attempt may have been made to fill it is probably incorrect.

It could simply be that I tended to walk the fields along the hedgerows and consequently overlooked it. .........Del

Below the crater as it can be seen today (2004).

The caretaker of Dagnams who stole the lead from the roof is usually blamed for the demise of the Dagnams mansion, some blame the council of the time, but it may well be the case that Hitler had something to do with it............. Del Smith

The bomb crater in 1946
The bomb crater in 1999
A curious story opposite, could this have been the V2 crater and who were the boys?