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/16th April 1915

Emboldened by L.9’s raid on England, the following day the Naval Airship Division authorised a raid by three Zeppelins on the Humber area.


Strong winds deflected the raiders from their intended target and L.5, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Alois Böcker, appeared off the Suffolk coast at Lowestoft at 9.40pm, but it was two hours later before the first of her six high explosive (HE) and 40 incendiary bombs fell - the majority in the vicinity of Henham Hall - just north of Blythburgh - and at Reydon, Southwold and Lowestoft. They caused no casualties but set alight a timber yard in Lowestoft and damaged several houses. In Reydon, the bombs fell on open ground but caused minor damage to two classroom ceilings at the school. The following day 28 children were absent from school due to the raid.  


Oberleutnant-zur-See Horst, Freiherr von Buttlar-Brandenfels, commanding Zeppelin L.6, also struggled to determine his location. Presuming he was still over the sea, von Buttlar unknowingly crossed the coast at the Naze in Essex at about 11.30pm, attracting fire from the Landguard Fort near Felixstowe. He continued over Clacton and back out over the sea, this time attracting rifle fire from a Royal Engineer company at Brightlingsea. Only when he saw the coast again, east of Southminster, did von Buttlar realise L.6 had reached England. It seems some bombs fell on Tillingham and Burnham-on-Crouch before L.6 released the majority - 4 HE and 30 incendiary - on Maldon and Heybridge, injuring one woman. Von Buttlar only discovered he had bombed Maldon when he read about it later in a Dutch newspaper.


The third Zeppelin, L.7, reached the Norfolk coast near Brancaster at about 1.40am. Struggling to identify their location, L.7 appears to have followed the coastline, passing over Cromer and Great Yarmouth, before heading back out to sea at Gorleston at 2.35am without dropping any bombs, believing it had been about 40 miles south-east of the Humber.

Maldon after the raid

Casualties: 0 killed, 1 injured


Damage: £6,498

Suffolk & Essex