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., Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambs., Kent

31st July/1st August 1916


Another large air raid, involving eight Zeppelins, but again effects were minimal. Areas of mist and fog did not help either the attackers find targets or the defenders to engage.


L.14, commanded by Hauptmann Kuno Manger, came inland over the Wash close to Sutton Bridge at about 12.10am. Taking a southerly course, L.14 dropped two high-explosive (HE) and two incendiary bombs at 12.33am at March. Landing close to the railway at Whitemoor Junction, one of the bombs cut through three telegraph wires. Turning east, L.14 dropped an incendiary at Hockwold, which failed to ignite, before releasing seven HE and an incendiary at 1.30am, on Croxton Heath, north of Thetford. A short while before L.22 had dropped a flare there, causing the heath to burn. Presuming an important target lay below, Manger added his bombs to the fire. Fifteen minutes later L.14 dropped two incendiaries at Bunwell, then a single incendiary half a mile east of the station at Buckenham. She then followed the railway line to Reedham, dropping four HE bombs at 2.05am, before going back out to sea just south of Great Yarmouth at 2.15am.  


L.22, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Martin Dietrich, came inland near Lowestoft at 10.30pm and followed a south-westerly course, dropping her first bomb, an incendiary, at the village of Poslingford at 11.45pm. After changing course twice, attracted by a light at West Wickham aerodrome, L.22 dropped four HE bombs at 12.20am, one of which landed on the airfield and the others within 300 yards of it. Five minutes later she dropped six incendiary bombs in fields near Haverhill Gasworks, followed by five HE bombs at Withersfield, breaking windows in four houses. A HE bomb at Great Wratting failed to explode. Next, L.22 approached Thetford at 1.25m, aiming three HE bombs at Snarehill airfield south-east of the town, but without damage. Over Croxton Heath, L.22 released a flare and started the fire that attracted L.14. Dietrich then released six HE and four incendiaries near Hevingham, where bomb splinters injured a horse. The final bomb, an incendiary, landed at Burgh-next-Aylsham, before L.22 passed out to sea between Mundesley and Happisburgh at 2.10am.


L.16, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Erich Sommerfeldt, crossed the coast near Skegness at about 11.35pm, shortly after L.14. She dropped only six incendiary bombs, causing no damage. Proceeding across Lincolnshire towards Newark, she dropped two incendiaries at Caythorpe at 1.35am. Five minutes later L.16 dropped another at Skinnand, followed at 1.55am by one at Langford Common. Turning for the coast, she dropped two final bombs, at Metheringham at 2.15am and West Ashby at 2.25am, before heading out to sea near Mablethorpe.





L.17 (Kapitänleutnant Herbert Ehrlich) arrived over the coast near Caister at 12.20am. Following a south-west course, he appeared over Pulham Market shortly before 1.00am where three HE bombs exploded harmlessly. Having turned westward, at 1.03am Ehrlich dropped an incendiary at Mellis, close to the Great Eastern railway line, after which he retraced his route then dropped three HE bombs at Billingford. These fell in fields but killed six horses and injured two others. Moments later two HE and three incendiaries landed at Brockdish causing minor damage to a farmhouse. Heading north, L.17 released five HE bombs at 1.30am over Hardwick followed, seven minutes later, by two HE bombs at Long Stratton. They caused no damage. An incendiary bomb near Forncett station landed close to a railway signal, after which L.17 turned, flying back past Pulham to Starston where two HE bombs fell just before 1.45am, killing three horses and injuring another. An HE bomb at Redenall followed then L.17 dropped six incendiaries at Denton at 1.50am before her final three bombs, incendiaries, landed at Broome. She went out to sea near Southwold at about 2.15am.


L.11 (Korvettenkapitän Viktor Schütze) approached the coast near Hollesley, Suffolk before coming over Bawdsey Manor at the mouth of the Debden at 1.10am and following that river inland.  Schütze dropped two HE bombs in the river close to the crossing of the Bawdsey ferry and an incendiary on Bawdsey. But at Waldringfield, L.11 turned back, dropping a flare over Kirton marshes. A searchlight positioned 400 yards from Kirton then opened to which Schütze replied at 1.20am by dropping four HE bombs. They caused serious damage to six cottages, injuring a boy, and broke windows in 12 other cottages. It seems possible that Schütze initially mistook the Debden for the Orwell, which exited into the sea by the ports of Harwich and Felixstowe, and turned back when he realised his error. At 1.25am she appeared off Felixstowe, engaged by an RNAS mobile gun at Shingle Street. Then began a game of cat and mouse as L.11 came inland over Felixstowe, retreated when guns opened fire, repeating the sequence for about half an hour. At 2.00am she was back over the entrance to Harwich harbour, attracting fire from a number of guns at which point L.11 dropped an HE bomb that landed on the parade ground of Landguard Fort, Felixstowe, where it only damaged some tents and broke hut windows. Six other bombs missed the fort and fell into the sea. L.11 made one more return but dropped no more bombs and finally departed at about 2.35am, sent on her way by a few more rounds from the mobile gun at Shingle Street. It seems possible that L.11 sustained minor damage.


L.31 (Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Mathy) made an ineffective raid, spending about two hours over the Straits of Dover. At 24.55am the armed boarding steamer, Duchess of Devonshire, saw L.31 overhead and opened fire. Mathy responded by immediately dropping 20 bombs harmlessly into the sea. Five minutes later L.31 came inland at Deal on the Kent coast but at 1.08am went back out to sea between Kingsdown and St. Margaret’s from where a searchlight picked her up and held her as she appeared off the coast at Dover at 1.10am. Others lights opened and nine of the AA guns at Dover opened fire. Mathy did not attempt to come inland, instead he wisely turned away to the east and headed home.








Casualties: 0 killed,  0 injured


Damage: £139