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)


12th August 1916


At 12.30pm on 12 August a single German aircraft appeared over Dover without any previous warning of approach. The aircraft came inland at great height over the South Foreland, just north of Dover, but with high cloud hindering observation it passed unobserved. Flying from Gistel, Belgium, the pilot, Leutnant Ilges of Marine Landflieger Abteilung 1, approached the town from the NNW. and flew a course to the SSE. Only when his first bomb detonated close to a shed on the RNAS airfield at Guston Road, near to Fort Burgoyne, did the Dover defenders realise they were under attack. Alerted by the explosion, the first RNAS aircraft took off three minutes later and, although ten aircraft (a mix of landplanes and seaplanes) eventually went up from Dover, Manston and Westgate, only one pilot, 2nd Lieut. C.A. Hore, 50 Squadron, RFC, saw the German aircraft and gave pursuit, only to lose its quary in a cloud bank.


While the airfields at Dover, Manston and Westgate became hives of activity, Ilges dropped his second high-explosive bomb as he approached Dover Castle. It landed in front of the officers’ mess at a military camp on North Fall Meadow occupied by 5th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, slightly wounding an officer and five privates. The third bomb exploded on a cliff south-east of the Castle wounding a soldier of 61st Protection Company, Royal Defence Corps, who was chopping wood. A number of windows in houses nearby were smashed. The fourth and final bomb landed in the sea near the East Cliff.


Alerted by the bombs, ten of the Dover anti-aircraft guns opened fire, getting off 141 rounds of varying calibre and type. With his bombing run completed just as the AA guns opened fire, Leutnant Ilges continued out to sea and set a homeward course.  







Casualties: 0 killed,  7 injured


Damage: £0