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

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Lincs., Norfolk, East. Yorks.

28th/29th July 1916

 

Due to the long light evenings of summer, this was the first Zeppelin raid for three months. Of the ten Navy Zeppelins that set out, four turned back early. Thick sea fog and heavy coastal mist severely hampered the raid and only one, L.13, penetrated a significant distance inland.

 

Commanded by Kapitänleutnant Eduard Prölss, L.13 came inland at North Somercoates on the Lincolnshire coast at 12.37am and embarked on a tour of the county with very little effect. Initially heading towards Lincoln, at 1.10am L.13 dropped a high-explosive (HE) and incendiary bomb on the village of Fiskerton, about six miles east of Lincoln, which broke windows in a house and a chapel. Prölss passed to the south of Lincoln and continued towards Newark, dropping an incendiary at Bassingham that landed harmlessly. Turning south, L.13 passed to the east of Newark, dropping a single incendiary bomb at Long Bennington before being attracted to the lights of a moving train on the line between Newark and Grantham. L.13 then dropped 27 bombs (10 x HE & 17 incendiary) which all fell between 50 and 500 yards of the railway. Two of the HE bombs fell at Stubton, breaking windows in a house, as did the four HE bombs that landed at Dry Doddington. Then, at about 2.00am, the remaining bombs all landed within 200 yards of Hougham station without causing any damage. L.13 then headed eastwards and went out to sea over the Wash, just north-east of Boston, at about 2.30am.

 

Zeppelin L.24, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Robert Koch, approached the mouth of the Humber at Kilnsea, crossed the estuary to Immingham, before dropping six HE bombs at 1.10am which landed on Stallingborough Marsh, near to Immingham Halt station. One of the bombs fell near the electric railway line, breaking electricity wires and windows in a hut. A 12-pdr gun at Immingham Halt hopefully fired off two rounds into the fog, but without result. L.24 exited on a north-east course across the Humber towards Withernsea where a 3-pdr and a 6pdr gun briefly engaged through the fog, each getting off a single round. For some reason Koch then steered north and came inland again briefly just south of Bridlington. He went towards Driffield but before he reached it he headed back to the coast at Hornsea, where he aimed two bombs at a Swedish merchant ship anchored off the town; both missed.

 

 

 

Kapitänleutnant Herbert Ehrlich, commanding L.17, appeared near Grimsby at the mouth of the Humber at about 12.10am. He headed north-west along the southern bank of the river in thick fog. A searchlight at Chase Hill Farm, North Killingholme, briefly opened up and L.17 responded by releasing eight HE and three or four incendiary bombs over Killingholme at about 12.45am; one fell on a road, the rest in fields. They caused no damage. Three minutes later he dropped another two HE and two incendiaries. These fell at East Halton. The two incendiaries set fire to a large straw stack on Manor Farm and an HE bomb exploded on a farm on Mill Lane where it killed a calf, damaged the farmhouse and demolished some outbuildings, while also causing minor damage to four cottages nearby. The other HE bomb landed in a field on Ash Tree Farm, damaging the windows of the farmhouse and those of two other cottages.  Ehrlich then took L.17 back across the Humber and headed towards the coast, passing out to sea between Hornsea and Withernsea at about 1.10am.

 

Kapitänleutnant Erich Sommerfeldt, commanding L.16, approached the Norfolk coast at 12.50am but appears to have struggled with the fog. He came inland over Brancaster Bay, passed over Thornham and released a flare over Ringstead. At Hunstanton L.16 turned south towards Heacham, which she reached at 1.15am. She then probed south of the town, dropping two incendiary bombs over Snettisham before heading out over the Wash. She came back inland at Heacham, then returned to Brancaster Bay and headed out to sea at about 1.45am.

 

Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Mathy commanded L.31, one of the new ‘super Zeppelins’ as the British dubbed them, on her first flight to England. She came inland near Corton, just north of Lowestoft at about 1.15am. In the heavy fog Mathy first steered towards Beccles, then Bungay, but turned back to the east before reaching that town. He returned to the coast and, having circled there for a short time, went out to sea over Kessingland at about 1.50am. Unable to identify any targets, Mathy released no bombs overland.

 

The last raider to come inland, Korvettenkapitän Viktor Schutze’s L.11, approached Sheringham on the north Norfolk coast at 2.35am, dropping an HE bomb that landed in the sea. Five minutes later L.11 came inland at Weybourne, dropping an HE bomb in a field, killing a cow and dislodging roof tiles. Schutze released a flare over Holt and then, at 2.45am, dropped an HE bomb at Sharrington without damage. Another followed a few minutes later at Gunthorpe with a similar result. Turning eastwards, L.11 then headed back to the coast where she next dropped a HE bomb at Paston, near Mundesley at 3.20am (also, possibly an incendiary). Then, as she went out to sea over Mundesley, L.11 dropped a final HE and incendiary bomb. The incendiary landed about 300 yards from an AA gun positioned on Stow Hill.  

 

Casualties: 0 killed,  0 injured

 

Damage: £257