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A curious edition of the famousWhere the Doodle Bugs Crashed in Kent’ map, showing the locations where 2,400 German V-1 rockets, or ‘Doodle Bugs’ landed in Kent during the summer of 1944, causing much carnage; this example unusually printed on the back of a sheet bearing coloured ‘Foster Clark’s Tomato Soup’ labels, owing to the wartime paper shortage.


Photolithograph printed on the verso of slightly glossy coloured ‘Foster Clark’s Tomato Soup’ label paper (Very Good, some light wear along old folds, minor repair to lower right corner), 51 x 69 cm (20 x 27 inches).


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By the spring of 1944, Germany was losing World War II – and badly.  Its scientists desperately sought to deploy ‘game changer’ weapons that could terrorize the British population into agreeing to a peace settlement that would let Germany ‘off the hook’, even though all such terror campaigns had failed in the past.


German scientists at the Peenemünde Army Research Centre developed the V-1 Flying Bomb, better known in England as the ‘Doddlebug’, or ‘Buzz Bomb’, due to its signature sound and erratic flying pattern.  An early cruise missile, the V-1 weighed 2,150 kg and could be manufactured in vast quantities; however, its drawback was that it only had range of 250 km.  They V-1s were also not especially accurate and could be intercepted relatively easily.


The German plan was thus to carpet bomb London with Doodlebugs, totally terrorizing the civilian population.  Even if many bombs were shot down or fell off target, it was reasoned that the sheer quantity of the salvos would have devastating effect.


From June 1944 to March 1945, 10,492 V-1s were launched against Britain, with 2,400 hitting London, killing 6,000 people and injuring 18,000.


However, while London was the target, the County of Kent, to the capital’s immediate southeast, located just across the English Channel from where the Germans launched the Doodlebugs in France and Benelux, was severely affected by the V-1 onslaught.  This is where the present map comes into play.


The map was made by the Kent Messenger, the county newspaper, to illustrate the extent of the Doodlebug scourge in Kent and the county’s critical role in acting as London’s shield, absorbing so many bombs.


The map showcases the entire county, divided into boroughs and regional districts, with the black landward dots representing the places where a single Doodlebug feel.  The small dots located offshore in the English Channel, represent the Doodlebugs that were shot down by British air defenses, or fell short of land.


The text of the map asserts that Kent was “Bomb Alley”, as 2,400 Doodlebugs fell on its territory, being “200 more that London”, while a further 1,000 were shot down.  It claims that “Kent saved the Capital”, as it absorbed so many bombs intended for London.


Th first edition of the map was printed within the September 15th issue of the Kent Messenger and was reprinted in the September 29th issue.


The map proved so popular that, in repose to massive demand, the Kent Messenger authorized a variety of further editions to be issued separately, which, as here, were sold to the public for the price of 6 Pence to benefit “Service Charities”.


Curiously, this edition of the map was printed on the back of a sheet bearing ‘Foster Clarke’s Tomato Soup’ can labels, owing to the wartime paper shortages.  As explained on the map:


“The paper on which these maps are now being printed had become obsolete in consequence of war-time packaging difficulties and have been made available through the courtesy of Messrs. Foster Clarks, Ltd., of Maidstone. / In view of continued demand of copies, and no other paper being available, we feel sure that many people will be glad to have a map on this paper.”


This unusual ephemeral artefact of the English home front in World War II, printed on Foster Clarks paper, is very rare; we can trace only a single other example, held by the Imperial War Museum.


References: Imperial War Museum: LBY [O]K. 09 / 1038.


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