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)

17th August 1915 (part 1)

London, Essex, Kent

Casualties: 10 killed, 48 injured


Damage: £30,750

This latest attempt by the German Naval Airship Division finally saw one of their  Zeppelins reach London and match the Army airship record. Four Zeppelins set out but two, L.13 and L.14, turned back with engine problems.


Zeppelin L.10, commanded by Oberleutnant-zur-See Friedrich Wenke, came inland near Sizewell and followed the Suffolk coastline down to Shingle Street where it turned inland. Near Ardleigh, northeast of Colchester, it dropped a parachute flare or incendiary, without damage, and followed the railway line as it passed through Colchester, Witham and Chelmsford, then turned west and headed towards Waltham Abbey. There, a couple of rounds from an AA gun sent L.10 on its way as it turned south towards London. The first bomb dropped on Lloyd Park, Walthamstow, followed by a string through Leyton and Leytonstone. These landed on Hoe Street, Bakers Avenue, Lea Bridge Road, Dunton Road, Farmer Road, Leyton High Road (bombs killed four near the Midland Road station), Midland Road, Moyers Road, Grosvenor Road, Claude Road (three killed), Murchison Road, Albert Road, Twickenham Road, Oakdale Road (two killed), Ashville Road, Grove Green Road, Lincoln Street, Mayville Road and Southwell Grove Road (one killed). The final bombs landed on open ground on Wanstead Flats. Besides the ten killed, 48 civilians sustained injuries. The first bomb dropped at 22.32 and the last at 22.43. The greatest concentration of bombs dropped around the Lea Bridge Road where they demolished four flats at Bakers Almshouses and caused significant damage to tramlines as well as to the Leyton tram depot. Elsewhere, fire gutted St. Augustine’s church on Lincoln Street and hundreds of other houses suffered broken windows.


From Wanstead, L.10 returned to the coast, dropping two explosive bombs at Chelmsford on the way: one at Admiral’s Park, west of the town, which gouged a five-foot deep crater, and the other at Glebe Road in the town, which crashed through a house but failed to explode.


L.10 encountered limited anti-aircraft fire and, although two RNAS aircraft from Chelmsford, one from Holt and three from Yarmouth were in the air, sightings were limited and two of the aircraft crashed on landing.

L.10 over ThamesA

In his report on the raid, Wenke described bombing on the north bank of the Thames between Blackfriars and London Bridge. A German newspaper printed this picture to celebrate the mission and a commemorative medallion based on the picture was also produced. Wenke's navigation, however, was out that night and it seems likely that he mistook the line of reservoirs in the Lea Valley for the Thames. His bombs fell mainly on Leyton and Leytonstone in northeast London.