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)

Durham, E. Yorks., W. Yorks., Cheshire, Staffs.

27th/28th November 1916

(Part 2)


L.13 and L.22 crossed the coast at Flamborough Head together at 10.05pm. Five minutes later they separated at Burton Agnes with L.13, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Franz Eichler, heading for York. At about 11.00pm, Eichler dropped a sighting incendiary bomb at Yapham, about 12 miles east of the city centre. Something caught his attention because moments later 21 HE and three incendiary bombs rained down harmlessly on open fields in the parish of Barmby Moor. Continuing towards York, the AA gun at Acomb engaged L.13 and Eichler changed course, releasing two HE and 21 incendiary bombs shortly after 11.15pm on the northern edge of the city. These all fell in an area bounded by Wigginton Road, Fountayne Street, Haxby Road and Stanley Street, wrecking one house and damaging several others. A man and a women suffered minor injuries. L.13 now set course back to the coast, passing Pocklington at 11.35pm and Driffield around midnight. She dropped five incendiaries harmlessly at Wold Newton at 12.25am before finally heading out to sea 25 minutes later just north of Scarborough, with AA gunfire sending her on her way.


Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Hollender, on his maiden voyage over Britain in L.22, crossed the coast with L.16 and parted company at Burton Agnes, but Hollender struggled to make an impact. L.22 headed south-west as far as the village of Holme-on-Spalding-Moor. Moments later, however, the searchlight and AA gun at Willitoft caught her and opened fire. Hollender turned away, slowly heading south-east. At 11.16pm, L.22 reached the Humber near Goole and crossed and re-crossed the river before skirting Hull and reaching Leven to the north of the city at 12.04am. Twenty minutes earlier Hollender looked on as a bright flare in the sky some 70 miles away signified the destruction of L.34. Having dropped no bombs, L.22 crossed the coast near Hornsea at 12.20am under fire from the AA guns at Cowden. She sustained some damage from this fire, which contributed to a bad landing back in Germany where she remained out of service for six days.






The last of this second group of raiders, L.21, crossed the Yorkshire coast at Atwick, just north of Hornsea, at 9.20pm. Her commander, Kapitänleutnant Kurt Frankenburg, steered towards Leeds but at 11.34pm the AA gun at Briarlands, east of the city, opened fire, followed by one at Rothwell Haigh. Turning south, away from Leeds, L.21 dropped an HE bomb and two incendiaries at Sharlston at 11.48pm, where L.16 had bombed just over an hour earlier, but caused no damage. Just after midnight Frankenburg approached Barnsley, and at 12.15am dropped an HE and two incendiaries at Dodworth, south-west of the town. Despite having passed over a number of industrial areas, Frankenburg then followed a south-west course over the largely uninhabited Peak District, passing Edale at 12.35am. He dropped an incendiary over the village of Pott Shrigley, narrowly missing a brickworks and, heading south, threw a single HE bomb harmlessly over Birchenwood near Kidsgrove. Approaching Stoke, L.21 released three HE bombs over Goldenhill and another three at Tunstall where, although one bomb failed to detonate, the other two injured a man in Sun Street, wrecked the interiors of two houses, wrecked outhouses of three cottages, damaged three others and smashed windows in 60. Now attracted by light from ironstone-burning hearths at Chesterton, L.21 headed west, unloading 16 HE and seven incendiaries there at 1.20am. The bombs landed close to mines and a brick and tile works but the only damage was broken windows. As he circled Stoke, Frankenburg dropped an incendiary at Trentham and three more at Fenton, but two failed to ignite and no damage resulted. Frankenburg now began his return journey.


At 2.11am, as L.21 approached Nottingham, Frankenburg switched off his engines to rectify a problem and drifted south-east with the wind. Caught by a searchlight at Ruddington seven minutes later, he switched them back on and resumed an easterly course, passing to the north of Melton Mowbray at 2.35am. Just over twenty minutes later over Buckminster, L.21 had an encounter with two aircraft of No.38 Squadron. Frankenburg began a serious of skilful evasive turns, climbing up to 13,000 feet, and escaped his pursuers after 30 minutes. These manoeuvres had cost Frankenburg time. Resuming his easterly course he passed Spalding at 3.35am and reached Hillington in Norfolk shortly after 4.20am. Here he switched off L.21’s engines again and she drifted slowly with the wind, reaching East Dereham at about 4.55pm. An aircraft from No.51 Squadron, attempted to intercept her, but engine problems forced the pilot to abort his attack. After a brief burst of his engines, Frankenburg switched them off again and drifted past Norwich, eventually reaching the coast just north of Great Yarmouth at 6.00am, from where a number of AA guns opened fire. L.21 remained over the coast, drifting towards Lowestoft where more guns engaged her at 6.18am. She finally made her way out to sea at about 6.30am, reaching 35mph under engine power, as the first light of dawn began to illuminate the eastern horizon. Now silhouetted against the brightening sky, three RNAS aircraft followed in pursuit. All three engaged and although the Navy gave credit to Flight Sub-Lieutenant Edward L. Pulling, it seems more probably that the four drums of ammunition fired by Flight Lieutenant Egbert Cadbury did the damage, because at 6.42am the flaming wreck of L.21 crashed into the sea off the coast of Lowestoft. There were no survivors. L.21 became the sixth German airship lost in the last five raids.


 For more details on this raid see Part 1