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)

London, Kent, Essex

1st October 1917


This raid proved to be the final attack of the Harvest Moon Offensive, the sixth raid over south-east England in eight days. It appears that only 12 of the 18 Gothas that set out came inland to drop bombs on London, Kent and Essex.


Gothas arrived over the Kent coast at about 7.00pm and 19 minutes later dropped an incendiary over Sandwich which landed about 200 yards north-east of the railway station, but without effect. A minute later two HE bombs fell at Richborough. One fell in a field at King’s End Farm, about 300 yards from an AA gun, the other falling in marshes about three quarters of a mile north of the gun. About ten minutes later 12 incendiary bombs fell in the Kingsgate district of Broadstairs, with all bombs falling harmlessly between Percy Avenue and Fitzroy Avenue. Three HE and four incendiary bombs fell on the St. Peter’s area of Broadstairs. There were no casualties but damage caused to the unoccupied Convalescent Home of the Victoria Hospital for Children at Chelsea in Stone Road amounted to £1,000. Two HE bombs landing in Convent Road damaged the road and water main, while a HE and incendiary that dropped on Kingsgate golf course did no damage and two HE bombs that landed in fields caused damage to crops valued at £1. At 7.56pm 15 HE bombs dropped at Herne Bay (4 x 50kg and 11 x 12kg). Six fell on the foreshore causing no damage and six more landed on a south-east line in a field 300 yards west of Hampton Pier, followed by one on building land 100 yards north of the pumping station, one in a field 150 yards west of the new gasworks and one in a meadow on Greenhill Farm. The bombs damaged a shed and smashed some window glass, total value estimated at £30.


In Essex, the sound of aircraft was detected by the Harwich garrison and at 9.40pm eight bombs dropped harmlessly in the sea off Landguard Fort. Guns of the garrison opened fire with over 200 rounds forcing the Gothas away to the south. Two of them came inland at Walton-on-the-Naze at 9.54pm dropping seven bombs, one of which fell in the sea and one on the shoreline. The other five fell in fields close to the rifle range breaking a few cottage windows.

In London, 26 HE and 3 incendiary bombs fell. The first Gotha reached the capital just after 8.00pm and released five HE bombs on south-west London. One fell in the Serpentine in Hyde Park, where the concussion killed all the fish in the lake, and another dropped in Belgravia, in the roadway in South Eaton Place where it damaged 56 houses and injured two people. Then, in Pimlico, bombs fell in Little Ebury Street damaging seven buildings, on a school in Sutherland Street where the school and 50 houses suffered damage, and at 2 Glamorgan Street which damaged 85 houses. This last bomb killed four young men sheltering in a doorway. Of the 198 houses damaged, the authorities classed 15 as demolished or seriously damaged. Five bombs fell in North London at around the same time. Three of these fell in Highbury, one in the street in Canning Road killed a woman and caused slight damaged to 36 houses. The other two fell in Highbury Hill and Digby Road, the first caused slight damage to five houses and the second to 31 properties. Another dropped on a garage at 208 Green Lanes causing only minimal damage. And a bomb that fell further away, on 31 Melton Street, by Euston Square, failed to explode but still caused damage. The main weight of bombs, however, fell on a north-south line parallel with the Kingsland Road, Shoreditch. These fell in Laburnum Street (2), How’s Street, Shap Street (2), Pearson Street, Ormsby Street, Cremer Street, Maria Street, Caesar Street (3), Kingsland Walk, Hoxton Street, Kingsland Road and Nichol Square. Police records show that about 770 houses, as well as schools and business premises, suffered damage from these 16 bombs, to a greater or lesser extent. In How’s Street four people died, while the bombs also injured 19: in Maria Street (8), Caesar Street (6), Laburnum Street (2), Pearson Street (2) and Nichol Square (1).


The barrage fire of the AA guns proved effective and appears to have succeeded in diverting a number of raiders from their chosen course, although the guns were in urgent need of repairs after the regular firing during the Harvest Moon Offensive. There was, however, a downside to the AA fire: falling shells killed a woman and injured eight men, four women and a child. The RFC sent up 18 aircraft to intercept the raiders but the misty conditions made observation difficult. Only one pilot caught a glimpse of the Gothas.



Casualties:  11 killed,    42 injured


Damage: £45,570