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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Casualties: 1 killed, 7 injured


Damage: £1,591

On the night of 22/23 January 1916, Dover again became the target for a hit and run raid by a single German aircraft. A Friedrichshafen FF 33b floatplane of Seeflieger Abteilung 1 appeared over the town and began dropping bombs at 12.47am.


The raider came inland just over half a mile south-west of Dover Castle and dropped its first two bombs on Waterloo Crescent and Cambridge Crescent, then continued on a course towards the castle dropping a total of eight high-explosive (HE) and one incendiary bomb. The next bomb fell on Camden Crescent followed by one that caused a fire at the maltings of the Phoenix Brewery in Dolphin Lane, which the fire brigade extinguished by 2.00am. The next bomb struck the gas office in Russell Street, then followed three that caused most of the damage.


One smashed through the roof of the Red Lion Inn in St. James’s Street, described in an official report as a ‘common lodging house used as a licensed premises’. The explosion killed 43-year-old Harry Sladden, who possibly worked there as a barman, and injured three men - James Browning, George Gambrill and Richard Willis. All had been sleeping in a first floor room. The blast blew off Sladden’s clothes and, when a doctor arrived, he was dead, lying with his intestines protruding from a stomach wound and compound fractures to his right leg.


The other two dropped close by. One fell on a wall at the back of Golden Cross Cottages from which fragments injured three children - Daisy Marlow, aged 14, Grace Marlow (10) and another unnamed girl. The other bomb injured 71-year-old Julia Philpott as she lay in bed at 2 Golden Cross Place. The final bomb exploded in Victoria Park, estimated ‘within 100 yards of Garrison Headquarters’ at the castle.


Having released all his bombs, the pilot turned out to sea and was observed from St. Margaret’s heading eastwards at 1.03am. The raid was over so quickly that no aircraft took off to oppose it and no anti-aircraft guns opened fire.  



22nd/23rd January 1916


The Red Lion Inn, St. James's Street, where Harry Sladden was killed when a bomb dropped through the roof


Photo courtesy of Paul Skelton


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