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)

10th May 1915

Hauptman Linnarz returned to England in LZ.38 in the early hours of 10th May 1915. She appeared over the S.S. Royal Edward, a POW hulk moored off Southend, Essex, at about 2.45am and dropped a single incendiary bomb which missed, no doubt to the relief of the men on board. She then dropped a string of bombs, mostly incendiaries, as she flew across the town from east to west. She continued to Canvey Island but anti-aircraft gun fire from Thames Haven and across the Thames at Cliffe prevented her continuing. LZ.38 turned back and bombed Southend again before heading back out to sea. Records show that she dropped just four high explosive (HE) bombs but as many as 120 incendiaries, over Southend, Leigh and Westcliff.


A 60-year-old woman, Mrs Agnes Whitwell, died when an incendiary crashed through the roof of her house in North Road, Prittlewell, and landed on the bed. Although burnt himself, her husband managed to rescue their invalid daughter, but suffered serious injury when he jumped from a window. The heaviest property damage occurred when fire gutted Flaxman’s timber-yard in Southchurch Road. Elsewhere a bomb exploded in the back garden of 192 York Road, shattering the roof and bringing down the ceiling on a soldier, Corporal Hanney, who was asleep in the back bedroom with his wife and child. The corporal received cuts to his face but his wife and child escaped injury. At 146 West Road, Westcliff, an incendiary set alight to a bedroom where a four-year-old child was sleeping. The occupier, Mr A.V. Jay, burst into the burning room, grabbed his son and woke the maid, before all got out safely. Numerous other residents of Southend could tell of similar escapes.


Linnarz’s crew left a calling card as they departed. An unexploded bomb discovered in the garden of 11 Rayleigh Avenue had a piece of card attached, bearing the ominous words ‘You English. We have come + we’ll come again soon. Kill or cure. German.’ British defence aircraft flew eleven sorties at various times searching for LZ.38 but none located it.

Southend 10 May Southend 10 May


Top: Flaxman's timber yard

Middle: Corporal Hanney and family

Bottom: Bomb crater in York Road

Southend2 10 May (2)

Casualties: 1 killed, 2 injured


Damage: £5,301