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 1917


The first air raid of 1917 saw a single seaplane fly from Zeebrugge to attack Broadstairs on the Kent coast.


The aircraft appeared shortly after 9.30am on this Thursday morning and was first noticed as it dropped three HE bombs at sea, about 50 yards east of the pier. Coming inland, the pilot then dropped an HE that exploded in Victoria Gardens near a large hotel, narrowly missing Dr Brightman, the Chairman of the Council. In King Edward's (now Edward) Avenue a bomb landed in the street slightly damaging two houses, followed by another that landed in Cinder Path, which ran alongside the railway. It caused damage to nine houses in neighbouring Clarendon Road. The next bomb fell in the playground of the County Council school in Grosvenor Road, close to a classroom full with 40 children. Their teacher, Miss Webb, reacted quickly, getting the children shelter beneath their desks. Although window glass blasted into the classroom, only Miss Webb and five of the children received minor cuts thanks to the teacher’s quick actions. A second bomb also fell in Grosvenor Road, damaging two houses. The sixth and final bomb struck Gladstone Road, about half a mile inland. The bomb struck the roof of a villa known as Fern Cottage, demolishing the upper part of the house and causing damage to four houses nearby, but all the occupants emerged unharmed. Having dropped his final bomb, the pilot turned back to the coast and flew back to Zeebrugge.


The response from the RNAS and RFC was sluggish. The RNAS ordered up nine aircraft but the first of these only took off at 10.02am, when the raider was already heading home, while five of them took off after 10.30.  The RFC sent up 14 aircraft, with 10 of these coming from Essex, but the order was only received at 10.12am and although seven aircraft were in the air within 13 minutes it was all too late.







Casualties: 0 killed,  6 injured


Damage: £700


Victoria Gardens, Broadstairs