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)

Essex

29th October 1917

 

Poor weather led to the postponement of a raid on London by Kagohl 3. Instead three of the most experienced crews were selected to attack south-east coastal towns. Having set out, two crews abandoned the mission due to strong winds and poor visibility, choosing to attack the secondary target of Calais instead. The remaining aircraft reached Essex where the sound of its engines carried by the wind prompted a series of reports over a wide area of the county as to the number of aircraft approaching.

 

The first bomb, a 12kg HE,  was reported at 10.22pm, having exploded on Dammer Wick Farm, a mile north-east of Burnham-on-Crouch. Ten minutes later AA guns at Canvey Island and Bowers Gifford opened fire. Approaching Rayleigh from the west, the Gotha dropped the first of a string of ten bombs, the first falling south of Beke Hall and 60 yards north of the railway. The next fell in a field about 300 yards west of Little Wheatley Farm, followed by another on the same farm, 40 yards from the railway. The Gotha crossed the railway tracks and dropped its next bomb 200 yards south of them to the south of Little Wheatley Farm, after which another landed 100 yards south of the tracks to the north of Great Wheatley Farm. A bomb that fell on the roadway at Crown Hill, 50 yards south of Rayleigh Station, burst a water main, caused slight damage to two cottages and smashed a wooden fence. Having flown over Rayleigh the next bomb landed as the raider approached Hockley, falling by a duck pond on Turret House Farm. The last three bombs all fell in woods near Bulwood House. Some windows were broken in the Hockley area and a turkey was killed. The Gotha passed over Southminster at 10.55pm and headed out to sea near the mouth of the Blackwater. About 16 miles south of Southminster, on the far bank of the Thames estuary, AA guns at Barton’s Point on the Isle of Sheppey, opened fire at 10.54pm. As the Gotha was too far away their target must have been Home Defence aircraft as at least four, from 37 and 39 Squadrons, were still in the air. They were unable to locate the raider.

 

This attack on the area around Dover took place at 4.30am but it is unclear who carried it out; it appears it was not Kagohl 3.

 

British reports state that one or two aircraft approached the Kent coast, coming inland at St. Margaret-at-Cliffe, north-east of Dover. The Dover AA guns opened fire from Langdon, Frith Farm, Citadel and River Bottom. This appears to have encouraged the raiders to drop their bombs, with seven falling in a line from north-east to south-west on the landing ground at the RFC’s Dover airfield on Swingate Down. The bombs fell about 250 yards from sheds on the airfield but caused only £1 worth of damage to telephone wires. Three more bombs were dropped in a field, in a line 100 yards south-west of Broadlees Farm, which the RFC used as a Sergeant’s Mess. The bombs broke windows worth ten shillings. The raiders headed out to sea, dropping four bombs in the Admiralty Harbour, between Castle Jetty and the South Breakwater, with two more falling in the sea beyond the South Breakwater. The attack was so sudden there was no time to get any defence aircraft airborne before the raiders had disappeared into the night sky.

Casualties:  0 killed,    0 injured

 

Damage: £0

Casualties:  0 killed,    0 injured

 

Damage: £2

31st October 1917

 

Kent