CHRISTMAS Eve 1944 would be a day that residents living around Gregson Lane in Hoghton would never forget - and not for the usual reasons of festive cheer and goodwill to all men.

For at 5.28am, sleeping villagers were awoken by a massive explosion in a field behind two cottages near Hewn Gate Farm.

A deadly German V1 flying bomb - which had the nickname ‘doodlebug’ - left a 40-foot crater after reportedly scoring a direct hit on a hen house containing around 30 chickens.

Such was the force of the blast that the two cottages were lifted from their foundations. The upper floor collapsed trapping the occupants among the debris but thankfully no-one was seriously injured.

The cottages would later have to be demolished.

Considering that it was a single rocket-propelled bomb which had landed, the collateral damage was extensive.

Over 100 homes, two mills, two pubs and a railway signal box were damaged with one of the mills having around 500 panes of glass blown out by the force of the nearby explosion.

Although much of the crater has been filled in over time, it is still possible to spot a small depression in the field where the VI landed all those years ago.

Military historians have two theories asw to why Hoghton had suddenly become a target of one of Hitler’s deadliest weapons.

One was that the V1, launched from over the North Sea by a specially-adapted Heinhel bomber, was one of 45 bombs targetting Manchester which went astray.

The other was that the target was much closer to home, namely the Royal Ordnance Factory at Chorley.

At the crater, a number of letters marked V1 POW Post were also found. This was a common trick used by the Nazis to tempt unwary folk to write to the fake prisoners revealing where the bomb had fallen

East Lancashire was relatively unscathed from Luftwaffe attacks during the Second Worrld War and the considerable damage caused by just one bomb demonstrates how devastating a concerted bombing raid could have been.