V2 hits the Brush Factory at Waltham Cross

My Earliest Memory

By John Young

2 January 1945

My earliest memory is from 2 January 1945, a couple of weeks before my third birthday. I was living in Park Road, Waltham Cross.

At around 9:20 am, there was an explosion in the direction of my grandparents house in Trinity Lane. My mother was obviously concerned for her parents. She took me next door and left me with our neighbour while she rushed off to check on her parents.

I still have an image in my head of myself, in my fawn dressing gown, sitting on Mrs Briden’s lap in front of her black kitchen range when my Granddad appeared at the back door.

V2 Rocket

It turned out that a V2 rocket had landed on Chadwick & Shapcott’s Acorn Works – the Brush Factory on Waltham Cross High Street. The site is now occupied by Homebase. That means that the explosion was about halfway between our house and that of my grandparents.

Brush Factory

I have only recently become aware that others in our family were even closer to the explosion. My mother’s sister was actually working at the Brush Factory when the rocket hit. Her daughter, nearly 17, was working at Webster’s the factory that used to stand to the north of Eleanor Cross Road near the railway. I have spoken to her recently and she tells me that her employer sent her off on her bike to check on her mother. Remarkably, she cannot remember any details of finding her mum on the day. Her mother did, however,come out of the incident without a scratch. Afterwards, she would not talk about her experience.

Sturla’s Brass Foundry

And it is worse that that for the family. My mother’s brother was also very close by at work in Sturla’s Brass Foundry. This was situated immediately to the south of the Brush factory Boundary on what is now Wickes’ Car Park. The Foundry is, of course commemorated in the name of the new road through to Park Lane – Sturlas Way.

I have always thought that I was lucky, being only about 300m from the event but I now know that my Aunt and my Uncle were both very much closer than that. What a traumatic day it must have been for the Suckling family. It is no wonder that I still remember it from such an early age.

This page was added on 02/03/2011.

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  • I was 11years old when the V2 hit the Brush factory on January 2nd. We lived in Albury Ride and my mother, Freda Howard, was a trained nurse in charge of the Red Cross First Aid Post situated at Halsey Hall Masonic Lodge. She rushed off there after the bomb fell and spent all day dealing with casualties. The following Sunday when another V2 fell on College Road, the First Aid post again treated many casualties. It is still a very vivid memory.

    By Kathleen Lindesay (01/08/2020)
  • I was born in 1934 and living in Hillside Avenue and one Sunday with my family we were walking amongst others in College Road and nearing a very deep bend in the road and there was a great roar and the earth shook ever so much and then silence and then great hubbub and from round the corner came push chairs, trolleys, lorries, carts etc all with poor people bleeding and bandaged and Mum covered my eyes but too late! So my Dad said we will turn right here we wont go that way today.

    By magaret downie (05/01/2020)
  • A recent comment on TV about v2 rockets prompted a memory of one hitting the brush factory. My father was working on the roof when it hit. He was knocked unconscious, and when he came too, found he was laying in a gutter between what had been 2 roofs, which had disappeared in the blast. He crawled along the gutter to the end, and found incredibly a ladder was still leaning against the end, and he managed to climb down. He had miraculously survived completely unharmed.

    By Eric Dunn (06/08/2019)
  • Although so young at the time, b. 1941, I can remember many war incidents that happened in Goffs Oak and Cheshunt. I also remember the day that the V2 hit the brush factory although didn’t experience the aftermath of that incident.. We had just moved from Goffs Oak to Hatton Road in Cheshunt. My father was the Town Clerk and ARP Controller and committed to go to all incidents. As far as I can remember it was a Sunday morning. We were having a late breakfast when the ear splitting explosion occurred without forewarning. My father leapt up from the table and rushed out of the house. That picture remains in the memory.

    By Christine Hauer b. Holdstock (26/08/2018)
  • Stan Webb asks if this was the incident that closed the road to Waltham Abbey?

    I don’t think so. That must have been the V2 that hit Highbridge Street on another day.

    I know of at least three V2s that fell in the immediate area: Highbridge Street, Brush Factory and College Road, Cheshunt. The last of these is referred in an earlier comment.

    It is interesting to see that I am not the only one who remembers Waltham Cross in those days and have contributed to this excellent website.

    I now live not far away in Harlow. I happen to live only about 300m away from the crater left by another V2. That was one of the two that were the first to be launched in the campaign. It is now in a Nature Reserve and is a pond, equipped with a hide for bird watching.

    It seems a weird coincidence that I have this association with two V2 strikes.

    By John Young (29/06/2018)
  • I was a 15 year old schoolboy on a visit to Murex Welding Co. at Waltham Cross when a V2 struck. As far as I can remember the road to Waltham Abbey was blown up, was this the same incident? I do not remember any other V2 explosion.

    By Stan Webb (03/01/2018)
  • Hi, I’ve made the corrections requested. It’s very unlikely anyone would have changed this after you posted it.

    By Nicholas Blatchley (03/01/2018)
  • I am the originator of this page and have just revisited to see it in its updated format. It if much easier to read now.

    I do however, notice a very serious error in the first sub title and the first sentence. The date was, of course 2 January 1945 not 1942. I was born in 1942 and V2s were not operational till 1944.

    Did I make the error in my original post or has it crept in during editing?

    Pleas accept my apologies if it was my error but in any case, please can it be corrected by the moderator?

    By John Young (31/12/2017)
  • I remember that morning when the V2 hit we (The Brayne family) lived at 3 Cedar Avenue Waltham Cross, Dad (Reg) had gone to work with the Tottenham Gas Company. He was a member of the Home Guard and because he was required to be called out to help with
    the bomb damage, he slept out of the Morrison indoor shelter. I got up and got into his bed just before the rocket hit. I saw a flash and inturn I pulled the blankets over my head, then the explosion and blast came. Mum (Gert) dashed in, she had to force the door open, to check that I was OK, although there was a lot of glass all over the bed but I was unmarked.
    Although I am over 80 and living in Australia now, I still
    I still remember that terrible morning.

    By Gerald Brayne (20/08/2017)
  • I have a memory of this day too, crystal clear memory, even though I’m 90 this year!

    On the morning that the v2 hit Chadwicks Brush Factory, I was working at the Northmet electric company situated opposite to Chadwicks in the High st.

    As the rocket exploded, myself and several workmates ran outside, and realised it had hit the factory where my mother Grace Saggers worked.

    I ran across the high street with my workmate Roy fisher into the factory forecourt, when Roy was knocked to the ground by flying debris.

    Upon looking up, I was then aware of falling dangers, including sheets of corrugated iron. I knew roughly where my mother worked, and found her beneath a wooden beam.

    Another friend Bob Sibley helped get mum out to an ambulance, together with Dorothy Jefkins and Rene Faulkner, who were both badly injured, and taken to Chase Farm hospital.

    Later I attended the roll call run by the company secretary to notify her of my mother’s situation. At the time my father Vic was at Potters Bar driving a 242 bus. On hearing the news from an incoming driver, he drove without stopping to Waltham Cross.

    My mother came home from hospital on the Sunday that another v2 exploded in College Road, killing mourners of victims from the Chadwicks v2.

    Hi Janice – your Aunt Joyce Carter was best friends with my mother Grace! I was 18 at the time, and coming up for 90 this year.

    By Ken Saggers (04/02/2017)
  • I remember the V2 rocket that fell on the Brush Factory in the winter of 1944/45. As an 8 year old I was playing in the snow covered street outside my home in Holmsdale (No. 82) and for many days after small trusses of bristles, presumably for insertion into broom heads, were to be found scattered about and that was about half a mile away from the explosion. My friends living in Holmsdale at that time were Brian Meadows and Bobby Huxtable, among others; I wonder where they are now?

    By Ray Webbing (29/01/2017)
  • It was 10th January 1945. My aunt was the company secretary. A photo of her, forehead bleeding, taking the rollcall to see who was missing, appeared on the front page of the Mirror. You can buy copies from their archives. I am so proud of her. She later married Mr Chadwick.

    By Ian D (30/03/2015)
  • Thanks for telling me grandpa that is very interesting since I have just gone to the gunpowder mills and saw a v2 roket engine!

    By lucas young (06/07/2014)
  • Grandad thanks for telling me about this website and also showing me. This was very interesting information.

    By Libby young (02/01/2014)
  • I can remember the V2 rocket which landed on Brush Factory at Waltham Cross. We were working for a builders’ company, Dobson & Sewell, on some houses previously damaged backing on to the Brush Factory but I thought the date was early 1945.

    By p.ward. (06/11/2013)
  • Interesting story, Grandad, thanks for telling us!!!

    By Iris and Arthur Coleman (03/11/2013)
  • My mother Violet Carter, and her sister Joyce were both working in the brush factory when the V2 hit, unhurt but badly shaken, they rushed to their home at 5 Swanfield Road to check on the family.

    By Janice Soons (11/09/2013)
  • Hi John Young I’m very interested in your information regarding the Sturla Foundry. My mother was a Sturla who’s family originally came from Chatham/Rochester. I have been trying to find out where they came from. The earliest reference I have found is John Sturla born in 1733 and buried in Rochester. Hopefully the editors of this page can pass my email address on to you.

    By Hilary King (24/08/2012)
  • Hi Richard The Sturla Foundary originated in Limehouse, in the late Victorion time, set up by Henry Sturla senior, born in Poplar His fateher had moved to the east end from Chatham where a family of shipwerights had appeared sometime in the 18th century or before. They would have come from Sturla near Genoa in Italy. The foundat relocated to Waltham Cross at the time of the Great War and was then run by Henry’s son, Henry Charles. His son, also Henry Charles, my uncle, did not go into the business.

    By John Young (06/04/2012)
  • Hi Carole, Yes, I do rember you well. It would be good to get in touch.

    Please contact the website to get in touch.

    By John Young (06/04/2012)

    By Richard de PEYER (08/08/2011)
  • Hi John, remember me? You lived opposite my grandparents (no 8) we lived at 22. We had lived in Ruthven Ave previously until a V1 fell in 1944? At the end of the road, the house was almost completely demolished. We were living in Wrexham at the time as my Dad was temporaly working at the Gunpowder factory there. I don’t remember any of it as I was only a baby.

    By Carole Durrant was Carter (06/06/2011)