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)

London, Suffolk, Essex

22nd July 1917


Although the weather inland prevented a strike against the capital, Kagohl 3 selected the ‘easy’ coastal towns and docks at Felixstowe and Harwich for an early morning raid.


Observers reported varying numbers of Gothas with the final analysis of the raid settling on 16. The formation crossed the Suffolk coastline at Hollesley Bay at 8.05am and turned towards Felixstowe. The first AA gun opened fire at 8.07am but another six minutes passed before the first defence aircraft were able to take off. By 8.17am the Gothas had turned for home.


The first bomb dropped in the sea about 50 yards east of Bawdsey Manor then the Gothas crossed the River Debden and opened out as the AA guns began to fire. Approaching Felixstowe the next two bombs fell in fields north-east of St. Peter & St. Paul’s Church, followed by one that demolished a smithy near Highrow Farm and injured the smith, before two caused extensive damage to property at Highrow. Two women were injured at Uplees House, 350 yards west of the Town railway station, when a bomb smashed a conservatory and another failed to explode when it struck the ground near the railway about 200 yards north of Goyfield House. A bomb that fell close to St. John’s Church destroyed a cookhouse by the Parish Room and another caused serious damage to Wanstead Cottage in Garrison Lane and the two houses on either side. Seconds later a bomb struck the rear of the Ordnance Hotel on Garrison Lane, killing the barman and two customers, a sergeant and private of the 3rd Battalion, Suffolk Regiment and injured two other soldiers. At the corner of Garfield and Victoria roads a bomb exploded without causing damage while three falling in Langer Road, near Army Service Corps headquarters, smashed windows and brought down telephone wires, but it also injured two soldiers of the ASC, one of them fatally.



At the junction of Landguard and Manor roads a bomb brought down more telephone wires but the next, falling on the beach 100 yards south of Manor Terrace, killed an officer and seven men of 3rd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, and injured an officer and 15 men of the same battalion. The men were sheltering in a trench but instead of keeping down, those killed had stood up to watch the raid.  A bomb falling on Landguard House by the camp of the 3rd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, damaged a cellar while three bombs that detonated on Landguard Common injured a soldier of the Royal Defence Corps and demolished two huts. Four bombs fell close by on ‘A’ Rifle Range merely gouging craters in the ground. The next bomb landed at the RNAS station injuring two naval ratings, one of whom later died, and demolished an engineers’ shed. A bomb dropping 50 yards west of Landguard lighthouse destroyed a shed and three at Landguard Point exploded without damage. The next bombs, estimated at 13, fell in the River Stour and Harwich harbour where the minesweeper HMT Touchstone sustained damage and two of her crew suffered injuries.


More bombs fell in the Harwich area. At Parkeston one bomb landed harmlessly in allotments as did two bombs that dropped in fields at Ray Farm between Parkeston and Dovercourt. In Upper Dovercourt a bomb landed in a field on Tollgate Farm, another fell in St. Nicholas’s Cemetery and three on New Hall Farm, all without damage. In Dovercourt three bombs landed close together, two in Lee Road failed to detonate but still caused limited damage to houses and the third damaged a slaughterhouse, probably on Old Vicarage Farm.


The Harwich AA guns fired off 273 rounds but the defence aircraft were unable to climb up to operational height before the raiders had headed out over the North Sea. Two flights from No.37 Squadron, flying in formation for the first time in action, were presumed to be German by the guns  of the Mobile AA Brigade and at the 3-inch gun at Canvey who opened fire at them when over 30 miles south-east of Harwich. No Gothas were hit by the home defences.  













Casualties:  13 killed,   26 injured


Damage: £2,780

Felixstowe Wansted Cottage

Wanstead Cottage,

Garrison Lane,