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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17th May 1915

Erich Linnarz brought Zeppelin LZ.38 back to England in the early hours of 17 May 1915.


At about 00.15 LZ.38 appeared off the coast near Ramsgate and came under anti-aircraft fire from ships; she responded by dropping a few bombs at sea before turning away. She later came inland at Margate and approached Ramsgate from the north. Some 20 bombs dropped on Ramsgate (four high explosive (HE) and 16 incendiary bombs). At 1.48am a HE bomb struck the Bull and George Hotel in the High Street. It smashed through the roof and several floors before exploding. From the wreckage in the cellar, rescuers dragged three people out: John Smith and his wife, and Mrs Florence Lamont. Mr Smith and Mrs Lamont both later died of their injuries. At a bazaar in Albion Hill a Mr France received slight injuries; if it had not been for a quantity of children’s buckets and spades stored against his window, his injuries were sure to have been worse. Other bombs fell at George Street, Queen Street, Chapel Place, the grounds of St. Catherine’s Hospital, Ellington Park, St. Lawrence, Nether Court, Chapel Road and Bell Cottages.


From Ramsgate, LZ.38 steered towards Dover but the searchlight at the Langdon Battery, Dover, locked on to her – the first recorded instance of this in Britain. The 3-inch gun was out of action but a 1-pdr pom-pom got off 11 rounds. The guns at the Drop Redoubt, Dover, joined in, forcing LZ.38 to turn away and head out to sea. As she went LZ.38 dropped 33 bombs on Oxney, which all fell harmlessly in fields and a wood.


Another first was achieved that night when a RNAS pilot, Redford Mulock, based nearby at Westgate, took off in an Avro 504B and, while still only at 500ft,  saw LZ.38 flying 1500ft above him. Mulock pursued LZ.38, which climbed steeply, to within sight of the Belgium coast but was unable to intercept. It was the first occasion on which a home defence pilot had spotted a raiding Zeppelin.


Casualties: 2 killed, 1 injured


Damage: £1,600


Damage to the Bull and George Hotel on High Street, Ramsgate, where two guests died.

Courtesy of the David Marks Collection

Bomb crater at rear of 6 Albion Hill, Ramsgate

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