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)

Lincs., E. Yorks., S. Yorks.

24th/25th September 1917

 

This Zeppelin raid, aimed at the Midlands and North of England, came while the south of England was experiencing an intense period of raiding by aeroplanes.

 

Eleven Zeppelins set out but experiencing various problems on route only six crossed the coast. Of the six, L.44, under the command of Kapitänleutnant Franz Stabbert, struggled with navigation over north and north-east Norfolk due to low cloud and strong winds and failed to drop any bombs.

 

Zeppelin L.35, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Herbert Erhlich, crossed the Lincolnshire coast at Anderby just after midnight. She headed north-west towards the Humber then steered west, but as she neared Goole, Erhlich changed direction to the south-west, attracted by distant lights. The main source was the Park Gate Iron and Steel Works, north of Rotherham. Warning of the raid only reached the area at 2.30am with lights extinguished five minutes later. Having lost sight of his target, Ehrlich began dropping bombs 10 minutes later hoping to get lucky. The first HE bomb landed in a field between Clayton and Thurnscoe. Another fell south of Thurnscoe by a railway level crossing causing slight damage to the tracks and telegraph wires, while three more landed in fields at Highgate smashing windows in George Street, and an incendiary caused minor damage to a building. Four HE bombs and an incendiary landed around the village of Bolton upon Dearne, with one smashing 40 or 50 cottage windows. Around Swinton, just north of Rotherham, eight HE and three incendiaries landed but the only damage was to windows and a boundary wall at a school near Rose Hill Park. The final three bombs - all HE - broke windows at Ryecroft near Rawmarsh. At 2.52am the Ryecroft AA gun opened fire. Ehrlich ended his attack and went out to sea near Aldbrough, east of Hull, at 4.05am having inflicted negligible damage.

 

Kapitänleutnant Hans Kurt Flemming in L.55 was making his first raid over England. Having come inland at Bridlington at 12.15am, he spent the next 90 minutes laboriously working his way up the north-east coast before making his attack. His bombs fell at Boulby, where there was a quarry, just three miles short of the important Skinningrove Iron Works. Six HE bombs dropped over the cliffs but all fell on the seaward side. At that point a searchlight found L.55 and the AA gun at Skinningrove fired 15 rounds, while gunboats at sea also opened fire. Turning away, Flemming dropped four more HE bombs in the sea off Staithes before setting course for home. He reported that he had bombed Hull.

Kapitänleutnant Eduard Prölss, commanding L.53, approached over The Wash, reaching land near Sutton Bridge at about 12.30am. Prölss headed west into Lincolnshire, dropping an HE bomb harmlessly at Surfleet Seas End at 1.00am. Then, attracted by flares burning five miles away at a RFC Landing Ground at Gosberton Fen, he released eight bombs as he approached (seven HE and one incendiary) but only damaged a cottage. Another HE landed moments later at Aslackby Decoy Farm without damage. Now heading north, L.53 dropped an HE at Ewerby and both an HE and incendiary at Anwick, all without damage. Now attracted by the flares at Ruskington Fen RFC Landing Ground, at 2.10am Prölss released five HE bombs, but again they were ineffective. Over Walcot Fen he released six more HE bombs with the same result. From there Prölss headed back towards the coast, going out to sea at 2.50am over Wrangle.

 

Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Hollender brought L.46 inland over the Lincolnshire coast near Theddlethorpe at 1.20am. He steered towards the Humber but his navigation became confused when south of Grimsby at about 2.20am. After ten minutes he struck off towards the south-west, away from the Humber, attracted by lights at the RFC Landing Ground at Cuxwold. At 2.35am Hollender dropped six 100kg HE bombs and three incendiaries west of Beelsby. A few minutes later Hollender threw 16 HE bombs at the airfield but all fell harmlessly south of the target. Having released all his bombs, Hollender headed back to the coast, passing out to sea near Tetney at 3.00am.

 

The last Zeppelin to come inland, L.41 commanded by Hauptman Kuno Manger, had Hull as its target. Manger came inland at 1.27am over Hornsea but struggled to pinpoint his position and it was not until 2.40am that he finally began his attack. He flew across Hull roughly from north-west to east, dropping seven HE and nine incendiary bombs. The HE bombs landed in Crystal Street (unexploded), Lansdowne Street, South Parade, Lister Street (unexploded), on a railway goods line between Albert Dock and Neptune Street (damaging waggons and telegraph poles) and two in Albert Dock. Of the incendiaries, two fell on the tracks by Paragon railway station, two in Short Street, one at the junction of Hessle Road and St. James’s Street and three close together in Nile Street and Commercial Road. The HE bomb at the back of Lansdowne Road appears to have caused widespread damage and injured two women. Even so, damage was generally limited to broken roofs and windows. Manger turned over the Humber and approached Marfleet, east of the city, where he dropped four HE bombs harmlessly in a field. L.41 then moved towards Paull from where an AA gun opened fire at 2.43am forcing her to turn away. She dropped four HE bombs in fields at Preston, again without damage, before passing out to sea ten minutes later near Tunstall.

 

The RNAS sent up four aircraft and the RFC 32, but only one, a BE2e of No.76 Squadron flown by 2nd Lt. W.W. Cook, launched an attack. He initially pursued L.55 without luck and later gave chase to L.41 after the attack on Hull. Although he fired four drums of ammunition he could not get closer than 800 yards and L.41 escaped.  

 

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Casualties:  0 killed,   3 injured

 

Damage: £2,210