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)


1st March 1916


At about 6.20pm on Wednesday 1 March the North Foreland lookout post in Kent received a report from the North Goodwin Light Vessel of an approaching aircraft. The aircraft, a Friedrichshafen FF 29 seaplane, came in over Margate at a height of 1,500ft, according to the official report, and released three bombs over Norfolk Road in the Cliftonville district. At 5 Norfolk Road one killed a baby, nine-month-old Jack Dodman. A newspaper reported that others had a narrow escape. It added that following the first explosion, some ‘people quietly made for cover’, however, ‘many residents…stayed out of doors and tried to locate the raider’ in the gathering darkness.


Another two bombs landed in Percy Avenue in the Kingsgate area of Broadstairs where they broke the windows in eight houses. There is some confusion over the total number of bombs dropped in the raid. The official report gives seven, including two on the golf course to the south-east of Percy Avenue. But local research shows 10 bombs in total without mentioning the golf course bombs. This local research records a bomb in a school playground in Grosvenor Road, where it smashed a number of windows and inflicted minor cuts to the face of Miss Webb, a teacher. Another exploded in Clarendon Road, and in Gladstone Road a bomb wrecked the top floor of a house. The last bomb of this group of four, which straddled the railway line a little to the south of Broadstairs Station, landed in King Edward Avenue. Heading towards the sea now, the raider dropped a final bomb on Victoria Gardens. The North Foreland lookout post recorded the departure at 6.27pm.  


No aircraft took off in opposition because of the darkness and the short warning of the raid. The raider, however, did not get away. Engaged by French patrol boats she came down in the sea near the Middelkerke Bank off the coast at Ostend. French rescuers saved the pilot and took him prisoner but his observer drowned.



Casualties: 1 killed,  1 injured


Damage: £497

Friedrichshafen FF29(a)

Friedrichshafen FF 29