Mr Churchills war memoirs



Mr Churchills war memoirs


Extract covering German Secret weapons and their deployment and attack by allied air forces. Discusses possible effect on Overlord.

Temporal Coverage




One newspaper cutting


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It seemed likely that if the German had succeeded in perfecting and using these new weapons six months earlier than he did our invasion of Europe would have proved exceedingly difficult, perhaps impossible. I feel sure that if they had succeeded in using these weapons over a six-month period, and particularly if they had made the Portsmouth-Southampton area one of their principal targets, “Overlord” [the cross-Channel operation of 1944] might have been written off.

This is an overstatement. The average error of both these weapons was over 10 miles. Even if the Germans had been able to maintain a rate of fire of 120 a day and if none whatever had been shot down the effect would have been the equivalent of only two or three one-ton bombs to a square mile per week. However, it shows that the military commanders considered it necessary to eliminate the menace of the “V” weapons, not only to protect civilian life and property, but equally to prevent interference with our offensive operations.

In the early autumn it became clear that the Germans were planning to attack us not only with rockets but also with pilotless aircraft. Meanwhile, it was observed that in Northern France a large number of groups of curiously shaped structures were being erected. All were laid out after the same fashion and most of them appeared to be directed on London. Each included one or more buildings shaped rather like a ski.

We later discovered from air photographs that there were structures similar to these in the neighbourhood of Peenemünde, and one of the photographs revealed a minute aircraft close to an inclined ramp. From this it was deduced that the so-called “ski sites” in Northern France were probably designed to store, fill and launch small unmanned aircraft or flying bombs.

On Dec. 18 Lord Cherwell sent me a report giving his ideas about the date and intensity of the attack which might be expected from the flying bombs. In his view the bombardment would not begin before April, and not more than 100 a day would be dispatched after the first day or two; of these about 25 would get within 10 miles of the aiming point.

During the early months of 1944 we completed our plans for meeting the flying bomb attack. It was decided that the defences should be laid out in three zones – a balloon barrage on the outskirts of London, beyond that a gun belt, and beyond that again an area in which the fighter aircraft would operate. Steps were also taken to hasten the supply from America of the electronic predictors and radio proximity fuses, which, when the bombardment eventually started, made it possible for the gunners to take a heavy toll of the flying bombs.

Meanwhile, the British and American Air Forces continued to bomb the hundred or so “ski sites” in Northern France. This was so effective that at the end of April aerial reconnaissance indicated that the enemy was giving up work on them.

But our satisfaction was short-lived, for it was discovered that he was building instead modified sites which were much less elaborate and more carefully camouflaged and therefore harder to find and to hit. Wherever found these new sites were bombed. Many were destroyed, but about 40 escaped damage or detection. It was from these that the attack was ultimately launched in June.

COPYRIGHT in the British Commonwealth by THE DAILY TELEGRAPH, in the U.S.A. by the New York Times, and in all other countries by Cooperation Press Service.

World copyright reserved. Reproduction, even partially, in any language, strictly prohibited.

To-morrow Mr. Churchill describes how he refused to receive from the Soviet Ambassador an offensive telegram from Stalin about the resumption of the Arctic convoys to Russia. This unusual diplomatic incident, he learnt later, impressed the Soviet Government.



Winston Churchill, “Mr Churchills war memoirs,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 16, 2024,

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