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)


Casualties: 2 killed, 6 injured


Damage: £500

In the early evening of 13th September, a single unidentified German floatplane of See Flieger Abteilung 1 approached Margate at 5.40pm. One account described it as ‘a bright speck hovering high in the air on a bright, sunny, cloudless day.’ Many out enjoying the sea air presumed the lone aircraft was British and looked on admiringly, until it began to drop the first of its ten bombs.


The raider came in over the Cliftonville area of Margate and dropped the first two bombs on the sands before a third detonated close to the bridge over Newgate Gapway. The next dropped on the lawn of Queen’s HIghcliffe Hotel, followed immediately by a fifth, which fell in bushes by the entrance to the Oval arena where the bandstand stood.


Moving inland, the raider dropped a bomb that fell in the rear garden of 4 Eastern Esplanade, shattering the windows of nos. 2, 3 and 4. Up to this point none of the bombs had caused any significant damage, but that was all about to change. Over Godwin Road, three bombs dropped in quick succession. The first exploded in the road outside No.2, where a four-year-old child, Alice Wilson, was standing on the garden path with her mother. Splinters from the bomb caused cuts to the child's thighs, foot and finger. The bomb also smashed windows in all houses, from nos. 1 to 8. The next bomb landed on No. 14 Godwin Road. Two women, Gladys Hazlitt and Florence Meager, were taking tea in the first floor front room when the bomb exploded; both sustained thigh injuries. Then a third bomb detonated in the garden of Malabar House, near to 26 Godwin Road. Agnes Robins, aged 40, and owner of the lodging house at no.26 was standing at her front door as bomb splinters inflicted serious injury. She died two days later and so became the first person in Britain killed by a bomb dropped from an aeroplane.


The raider dropped one more bomb, which landed in Albion Road. Walter May, a 38-year-old cab driver was about to set down his fare when the bomb exploded under his horse, which was ‘blown up before his eyes’. May had a lucky escape, the blast only ‘smashing’ the big toe on his left foot. It is unclear whether his passenger sustained minor injuries. Another cab horse in the street ‘died from fright’. A splinter from the same bomb injured Dora Andrews, a 51-year-old nurse, as she stood in the front garden of “The Nook”, holding a child in her arms. There was one final victim. Splinters from the bomb struck Kate Bonny as she stood at the garden gate of “Brooklyn Lodge”; she died of her wounds four days later.


Two BE2cs from RNAS Westgate took off at 5.45pm and saw the raider over the Channel but were not able to close with him.




13th September 1915


MargateAb (2)

The first two Margate bombs landed on the sands close to this point, while the third bomb landed near the bridge at Newgate Gapway

Margate Godwin RoadA (2)

Godwin Road, where three bombs dropped. They killed Agnes Robins and injured two women and a child