V2 Memorial Organisers To Attend VE-Day Event

Ceremony to be held at site of rocket factory in Germany

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The organisers of the commemoration of the Chiswick V2 have been invited to send representatives to the Museum at Peenemunde in North East Germany to participate in their VE-Day commemoration on 8 May.

This Museum is on the site where the V2 rockets were developed, on the Baltic Coast of Germany. James Wisdom, Chairman of the Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society and Val Bott, who co-ordinated the Chiswick V2 commemoration last September, will be attending, along with Cllr Paul Lynch, Chair of the Chiswick Area Committee of Hounslow Council.

During the event at Peenemunde the Chiswick representatives will plant a cherry tree of the same variety as those in Staveley Road as a gift from Chiswick and a symbol of reconciliation.

On 8 September 2004 a memorial in Staveley Road was unveiled to the three people who were killed when the first V2 to land in the UK exploded in Chiswick. About 400 people attended and an information sheet was distributed. Since then many people have sent in their memories of the explosion and the Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society is assembling an archive for public deposit.

The memorial was a joint project between the Battlefields Trust and the Local History Society. The main fund-raiser was Scott Mackinlay, a Chiswick resident and member of the Battlefields Trust, working with James Wisdom, B&CLHS Chairman and Val Bott who co-ordinated the project. The Mayor of Hounslow unveiled the memorial and speeches were given by Councillor Paul Lynch (Chair of the Chiswick Area Committee of Hounslow Council) who also laid a wreath beside the memorial, Frank Baldwin (Chairman of the London and S E Region of the Battlefields Trust) and James Wisdom. It was supported by Home Front Recall, a National Lottery grant scheme. At the same time a similar memorial was being unveiled by the Mayor of Wassenaar, the suburb of the Hague from which the V2 was launched, to commemorate those who died in the RAF bombing immediately afterwards.

The cherry tree is particularly symbolic because Staveley Road had been laid out with the newly-fashionable ornamental tree (Prunus Kanzan) in the 1920s. The difference in girth between these and the trees planted in the late 1940s shows the extent of the rocket crater.

Scott Mackinlay contacted the Museum at Peenemünde where the V2 rockets were developed. He offered to take a cherry tree to plant at the Museum, both as a symbol of peace and as a link with Staveley Road. Sadly, Scott Mackinlay, the Chiswick resident who represented the Battlefields Trust on the steering group and did a major part of the fundraising for the Chiswick memorial, is currently working in Africa and will not be able to be there.

The Museum Director responded at the end of March, accepting the offer of a cherry tree and inviting Chiswick's representatives to participate in the V E Day commemoration on 8 May at the Museum. He writes, “In the presence of the Minister of Culture, a representative of your delegation and the Mayor of Peenemünde could plant the tree together next to the new entrance to the museum. I think that would put the gesture of reconciliation in the context of a large commemorative ceremony and at the same time it would still be understood as the gesture of 'ordinary' people who bring to life the idea of reconciliation between nations.”

The History Society will also be presenting to the Peenemünde Museum an album of information about the V2 blast in Chiswick which includes memories and images assembled since the unveiling of the Staveley Road memorial. (A similar album will be presented later in the year to the Mayor of Wassenaar).

The Peenemünde Museum and Historisch-Technisches Informationszentrum is based in the former power station of the testing ground; its web-site can be found at www.peenemuende.de.

Also this week the Acton History Group is putting on a one-day lottery-funded event called Tin Hats, Doodle Bugs and Food Rations: Memories of Action in World War 2. This will take place in St Mary's Church Hall, opposite Morrisons Supermarket, High Street, Acton on Saturday 7 May between 2 and 5pm.

The exhibition will be opened by the Mayor of Ealing at 2.30 and during the afternoon members of the Reminiscence Roadshow will be present in 1940s costume taking on WW2 roles. The event includes photos, posters, music, memorabilia and NAAFI teas.

May 4, 2005