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

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14th April 1915

On the afternoon of 14 April 1915, naval Zeppelin L.9, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Mathy, was scouting over the North Sea. When about 100 miles off Flamborough Head, with no sign of any British naval activity but with good weather and a load of ten 50kg high explosive (HE) bombs and 40 incendiaries, Mathy sought and received permission by wireless to raid England.


At about 7.45pm, L.9 came inland close to Blyth on the north-east coast. As she passed close to Cambois, the startled men of 1st Battalion Northern Cyclists opened fire with rifles as it sailed past. Undeterred, L.9 dropped its first bombs, which fell in a field at West Sleekburn; fourteen more fell between Choppington (where a hay stack was burnt), Bedlington and Cramlington. Most of these fell in open country, although one man at Bedlington received a shrapnel splinter in his wrist. Another nine bombs fell on a line from Seaton Burn, through Dudley, Annitsford, Killingworth, Forest Hall and Longbenton, causing no damage. Then, over Wallsend, Mathy released six incendiaries; one landed on a cottage where it caused minor injuries to a woman and her young daughter.   Beyond Wallsend, L.9 crossed the Tyne and ineffectively attacked Hebburn before heading back towards the coast. At Marsden it dropped a couple more bombs before flying back out over the North Sea. Estimates of the damage caused by Mathy’s raid were just £55.


The lighting restrictions in force in the area seem to have contributed to Mathy’s inability to make an effective attack. And the Tyne garrison was virtually impotent as the area had no anti-aircraft guns at the time of the raid but shortly afterwards a 3-inch gun transferred there from Portsmouth. More followed.


One aircraft took off from RNAS Whitley Bay and made a valiant effort to locate L.9 but, without any searchlights in the area, it proved fruitless.    

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Bedlington bomb crater

Burnt out incendiary bombs dropped on 14th April 1915

Casualties: 0 killed, 3 injured


Damage: £55