Zeppelin raids, Gothas and 'Giants'

Britain's First Blitz - 1914 -1918

Ian Castle looks at the World War One air raids on Britain - the First Blitz

40 (3)

Norfolk, Suffolk, Hertfordshire, London, Surrey, Kent, Sussex

For Casualties and Damage

see Part 1

From a German point of view, the most successful raider that night was Zeppelin L.15 commanded by Kapitänleutnant Joachim Breithaupt. She came inland near Bacton at about 6.25pm and passed Thetford, Bury St. Edmonds, Halstead and Braintree before heading west towards Harlow. At 8.40pm at Broxbourne, south of Hertford, a 13-pdr mobile anti-aircraft gun positioned in Church Fields opened fire with nine rounds. In response, L.15 dropped four high-explosive (HE) bombs, one failed to detonate but the other three landed in close proximity to the gun. The blast blew the gunners off their feet and wrecked a wooden shed as well as a lorry and a car belonging to the detachment.

 

L.15 was seen passing Edgware at 9.03pm but was not observed again until it appeared over Westminster and was engaged by the Green Park anti-aircraft gun moments before 9.30pm. Then, five minutes later, Breithaupt began dropping bombs in Covent Garden, in the heart of London’s theatre district. The second HE bomb landed in the road at the corner of Wellington and Exeter Streets, between the Lyceum theatre and the offices of the ‘Morning Post’ newspaper; it killed 17 and injured 21. Other bombs killed three people in Aldwych and injured 15. Turning north, bombs dropped on Gray’s Inn and Lincoln’s Inn, two of London’s four Inns of Court. One bomb smashed the 17th century stained-glass window of Lincoln’s Inn Chapel. Another bomb exploded in Chancery Lane, damaging the roadway, while incendiary bombs caused damage around Hatton Garden and Farringdon Road.

 

No more bombs dropped until L.15 was over Finsbury Pavement, where she came under fire from a new 75mm auto-cannon recently arrived from France. Two bombs in Finsbury Pavement killed four and injured ten. In Aldgate, a bomb hit a hotel in the Minories and damaged nearby buildings, killing one and injuring eight. Ten minutes after the first bomb, L.15 released her final four London bombs; two fell close to the Royal Mint and two just north of the Western Docks, but damage was limited to a number of tenement houses, while six people were injured. Then L.15 climbed higher to avoid the increasing gunfire she encountered and took a northerly course out of London.

 

A number of guns fired at L.15 as she headed back to the coast including a RNAS 1-pdr pom-pom at Rushmere Heath, near Ipswich. In reply, L.15 dropped four HE bombs but these caused no damage: one landed on a golf course, one in a potato field and two in a turnip field. L.15 crossed the coast near Aldeburgh at about 11.55pm.

 

Despite much ground fog that night, the RFC got five aircraft up, however, only one saw a Zeppelin, losing it in cloud. Three of the pilots damaged their aircraft when attempting to land at fog-bound airfields.    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13th/14th October 1915 (Part 3)

 

P1090657ab Chambers Street

Junction of Wellington and Exeter Streets where a bomb dropped by L.15 killed 17 people

The rear of a house in Chambers Street, near the Royal Mint, bombed as L.15 neared the end of the raid on London