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)

Lincs., Norfolk, Northants.,

Lancs., Warwicks.

12/13 April 1918 (part 2)


L.64, commanded by Korvettenkapitän Arnold Schütze, came inland over the Lincolnshire coast, observed from Louth at 10.00pm heading west. Two minutes later an incendiary bomb dropped at Biscathorpe. She approached Lincoln, which was in darkness, and circled to the north of the town. At 10.28pm an AA gun opened fire, after which L.64 moved away to the south-west, skirting Lincoln, and dropping two 100kg HE bombs on Skellingthorpe, which caused some damage to railway tracks and telegraph wires. A shed and a railway engine also experienced slight damage, and three men suffered minor injury from an AA shell. Moments later 12 bombs, all 50kg HE, dropped near the village of Doddington where the only damage was a shaken chimney and a few broken windows. Schütze believed he had attacked Hull. AA guns continued to fire towards the sound of L.64’s engines until she passed out of audible range at 10.45pm. At about that time she reached Waddington, south of Lincoln, where flares were alight on the airfield. L.64 dropped a 50kg bomb, which exploded in a field close by, and three more fell a little further east, at Mere. None of these bombs caused any damage. At 10.54pm, the AA gun at Brauncewell, that had earlier engaged L.63, now opened on L.64 as she headed away towards the coast at Wainfleet, where she arrived at about midnight. Schütze spent another hour over the Lincolnshire coastline before finally heading out to see from Mablethorpe.


Kapitänleutnant Herbert Ehrlich, commanding L.61, had a remarkable raid, managing to penetrate within 12 miles of Liverpool, although he was unaware of his achievement. Ehrlich crossed the Yorkshire coast near Withernsea at 9.30pm, shortly after which guns of the Humber garrison opened fire at the sound of L.61’s engines. She crossed the Humber and headed west, passing a few miles south of Doncaster and Sheffield, but had by then become lost to ground observation. Heading north, she crossed the River Mersey near Widnes and reappeared over Bold in Lancashire at about 11.10pm, where she dropped two 50kg HE bombs. One fell on the main road at Bold Heath, damaging a milestone and a water main, while the second exploded in a field on Abbots Hall Farm, breaking windows in an office at Clock Face Colliery about 150 yards away. Continuing to the north, Ehrlich now must have seen the glare from the furnaces at the Wigan Coal & Iron Company about 10 miles ahead, which Ehrlich concluded was Sheffield. The area had not received an air raid warning.


At about 11.30pm L.61 reached Ince on the southern edge of Wigan and Ehrlich commenced his bombing run. An incendiary smashed through the roof of 12 Preston Street setting the house on fire and destroying all the furniture. At the same time another incendiary crashed through the roof of 7 Frederick Street, just 25 yards away, but it failed to ignite. More bombs followed by the railway. An incendiary smashed into a signal box 400 yards west of Ince station and an HE bomb landed 200 yards west of the station, damaging a section of track and destroying two trucks of a stationary goods train loaded with coal. Crossing the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Ehrlich released four bombs that fell around Hartley Avenue. One of the bombs destroyed three houses in Harper Street, claiming the lives of a married couple, Samuel and Jane Tomlinson; others escaped with injuries. Ehrlich then released four more bombs. Two exploded at the junction of three roads: Hardybutts, Birkett Bank and Scholefield Lane. The explosion caused damage to the roads and nearby buildings, blowing in doors up to 50 yards away and smashing windows 100 yards away. Two HE bombs then fell in Cecil Street. One of these exploded in the street causing damage to nearby properties and the other landed behind the houses where the explosion demolished 12 outbuildings. Now over Platt Lane, Ehrlich released three more HE bombs. Two landed harmlessly on waste ground but the blast from the other that exploded in the street killed Margaret Ashurst. The 14 other people in the house all escaped significant injury.


Following the main road towards Aspull, Ehrlich dropped an HE that exploded at the rear of 181 Whelley, opposite the gates to the Lindsay Colliery. Fragments from the bomb smashed into the house and struck Walter Harris who was carrying his five-month-old son, Alfred, downstairs to safety. Both were killed.  Another exploded in the Lindsay Pit Yard where it destroyed a coal truck in the sidings and one hit a stone wall on Whelley just before it becomes the Wigan Road, causing some local damage and injuring a man. Then four HE bombs landed in a line along a brook at New Springs close to allotments, just to the west of the Wigan Road. The blast smashed greenhouses, broke doors and windows of nearby houses, caused a fire to start at a brewery and injured four people. Steering away from Wigan now, L.61 headed north-east and at about 11.40pm dropped an incendiary at Little Hulton, south of Bolton. It fell in a field where it caused no damage. The last bomb dropped by L.61, another incendiary, landed in a field at Outwood, near Radcliffe, south of Bury. L.61 reached Hull at about 1.25am with engine problems and it was not until about 90 minutes later that she finally headed out to sea.


The home defence aircraft of the northern squadrons flew 27 sorties but the low cloud and mist combined with the limited ceilings of the aircraft that got airborne meant the raiders were rarely troubled.  


For more details about this raid see Part 1







For casualties and damage see Part 1