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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

History of the Buzz Bomb retold

Friday, August 21, 2009

Putnam County boasts one of only two WW II German Buzz Bombs in the U.S. This one was made into a WWII Memorial on the lawn of county courthouse. As can be seen in this photo, it has graced the courthouse lawn for well over half a century.
GREENCASTLE -- One of the most unusual war memorials in the country is located on the southwest corner of the Putnam County Courthouse. It is a WW II German Buzz Bomb.

The story of how it came to Putnam County is almost as interesting as having a German bomb as a tribute to the many Putnam County residents who died in the war.

Frank Durham was serving as a reservist in Maryland in 1946. He heard about a number of captured German armaments that had been shipped to the United States for storage. The government was about to junk them because of space issues.

Durham, with the help of the Greencastle Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 1550, managed to get ahold of the bomb. Making it into a war memorial would be a much more daunting task.

After legislation was passed in both houses of the U.S. Government, permission to erect the memorial came. It was dedicated on Nov. 11, 1947 and displays the names of Putnam County veterans killed.

The bomb sits on a v-shaped base designed by Art Perry at DePauw University. Senator Hoadley, whose own son was killed in the war, donated the limestone making up the base of the memorial.

"The first nose on the bomb was a garbage can cover. Because the nose was a fuse, it wasn't shipped. However, another bomb was acquired and a new nose was fabricated," explains Carla Lawless on the Putnam County Convention and Visitor's Bureau Web site.

In June 1944, the German army began using what would be a very unique, very deadly, and historical weapon called the V1. The 'V' stood for Vergeltungswaffe, which means "vengeance weapon."

Better known to Londoners as the "Buzz Bombs" or "doodlebugs," these flying bombs made a very distinct sound as they flew overhead at low altitude, before the timing mechanisms expired, and the bomb fell to earth, and exploded.

Between June 1944 and March 29, 1945, a total of 9,251 V1 flying bombs were launched against England with only 2,419 of them made it to their intended targets.

Over 2000 were shot down or knocked off course by Royal Air Force fighter aircraft. Spitfire pilots learned that by placing the wing tip of their fighter plane underneath the V1's outer wing, that this would often upset the missile, tumble the gyros, and send it crashing out of control into the English countryside.

Anti-aircraft guns shot down an additional 1,971 V1s and 278 were snagged by barrage balloons that dotted the approach paths to the south of London.

V1s were originally launched from northern France by catapults attached to 157 foot long launch rails, but were eventually also released from airplanes.

"A lot of people remark about the bomb. It is really unusual. When I first moved here I thought it was kind of strange but since I heard its history I think of it as a tribute to the many soldiers who died fighting for freedom," reflected Stan Smith.

For more information on the Buzz Bomb memorial, the historic Putnam County courthouse and "doughboy" memorial on the southeast corner of the courthouse lawn, contact the Putnam County Convention and Visitor's Bureau at www.coveredbridgecountry.com or call 653-8743.

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it is interesting that my mother calls our grandson "doodlebug" when he is wound up and out of control. i always wondered where that name came from or if she just made it up. now i see where she would have heard it from. very interesting.

-- Posted by BORNINPUTCO on Fri, Aug 21, 2009, at 9:29 AM

Whenever I'm away from Greencastle, this is often one of my topics of discussion if people ask about my hometown. Although it was used as a weapon of terror against the British population, I am immensely proud of our buzz bomb. I'm glad the Banner published this article as a reminder to residents where it came from and why it's important to our history. Thanks!

-- Posted by the_bugler on Fri, Aug 21, 2009, at 10:12 AM

My friend and I hitch hiked from Cloverdale to attend the dedication of the V-Bomb. The block was packed with a audience.

Champaign, Il

-- Posted by bodenny on Fri, Aug 21, 2009, at 2:56 PM

Good Article! Thanks for the Information!!!

-- Posted by Afghan Contractor on Sat, Aug 22, 2009, at 5:50 PM

I grew up playing around this thing nearly 60 yrs. ago and did not know the story til now.Neat.

-- Posted by carolmonnett on Mon, Aug 24, 2009, at 5:34 PM

Mr. Frank Durham....thank you...Jim

-- Posted by TNVOLTUT on Tue, Aug 25, 2009, at 7:52 PM

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