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)

15th June 1915

North East

Casualties: 18 killed, 72 injured


Damage: £41,760

Zeppelin L.10

The first of the German Navy's 'p-class' Zeppelins

On the night of 15 June, Kapitänleutnant Klaus Hirsch brought Zeppelin L.10 inland north of Blyth at around 11.25pm then set course for the Tyne. His first bombs dropped on Wallsend at around 11.40pm. Six incendiary and two high explosive (HE) bombs caused damage estimated at £30,000 on the North Eastern Engineering Company works. Others fell close to the Infectious Hospital and the new Secondary Schools, with one also falling near Holy Cross church and another in the Burn Closes.


L.10 next crossed the Tyne, dropping bombs on the Hebburn Colliery, the Ordnance Works football field and Blackett Street, before approaching the Jarrow shipyards. Unfortunately, word of the impending raid had not reached the shipyards and all lights were still burning, providing an easy aiming point. Palmer’s shipyard took the brunt of the attack with seven HE and five incendiary bombs killing 17 and injuring 72 in the Engine Construction Department.


L.10 crossed back over the Tyne, bombing Willington Quay. There, three (one HE and two incendiary) bombs fell on Cookson’s Antimony Works, two at the east end of Stephenson’s Street and one at Pochin’s Chemical Works, one near the Tyne Commissioner’s Yard, one at Coach Open – killing P.C. Robert Telfer -  two in Tyne View Terrace and one in Dock Street. Hirsch then dropped a single bomb on Bewicke Street, East Howden, as he headed towards South Shields where he dropped the last four bombs.


The first of these landed in the Tyne but the second hit a fairground close to the river where considerable damage took place. The force of this blast smashed windows in Ferry Street, Church Row, Market Place, Coronation Street, King Street, East Holborn, Mill Dam, Spring Lane and Thrift Street. A third bomb, dropped on Bents Ground, caused minor damage before a final one on the beach failed to explode. L.10 departed at about 11.52pm.


Two RNAS pilots flew from Whitley Bay while L.10 was over England but neither saw the raider. Five guns opened on L.10: a pom-pom at South Shields got off 25 rounds while four others of various calibres in various locations fired 17 rounds without effect. HMS Brilliant, a Tyne guardship, also opened fire.

Hirsch (2) L10 (2)

Kapitänleutnant Klaus Hirsch