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)

Scotland, Essex, Suffolk

2nd/3rd Apr 1916 (Part 2)


The third of the Navy Zeppelins, L.16, commanded by Oberleutnant-zur-See Werner Peterson, approached from further south than L.14 and L.22, coming inland over Druridge Bay on the Northumberland coast at about 11.00pm. Peterson followed a largely southerly course which was taking him towards Newcastle (although he believed he was already south of Tyne) until he steered away westwards towards Ponteland, attracted by flares burning at the High West Houses aircraft landing ground. L.16 dropped 12 HE and 11 incendiary bombs there at 11.35pm without causing damage. Peterson then turned north-east, sighting more flares at Cramlington airfield where he dropped five HE and six incendiary bombs at 11.50pm which burnt some woodwork. L.16 then headed back northwards before dropping seven HE bombs near Broomhill Colliery at 12.15am: three landed in fields at Hadston and four at Togston Barns Farm. Five minutes later Peterson took L.16 back out to sea over Amble. Two RFC aircraft went up from Cramlington without success and one was wrecked in a landing accident.



Two Army Zeppelins also raided England on the night of 2nd/3rd April, hoping to reach London.


LZ.90, commanded by Oberleutnant Ernst Lehmann, crossed the coast near the mouth of the River Colne, Essex, at 10.40pm. Approaching London, LZ.90 came under fire from Great Baddow, near Chelmsford, and then again from Kelvedon Hatch at about 11.35pm, after which LZ.90 steered a course towards Waltham Abbey. At 11.50pm the searchlight at Chingford illuminated her and four minutes later the AA guns of the Waltham Abbey Control area opened fire. Lehmann immediately ordered the release of all his 90 bombs (25 high-explosive and 65 incendiaries) which fell on a line about a mile and a half long, between Woodredon Farm and Windmill Hill off Honey Lane. The release of the bombs, around 11.57pm, caused LZ.90 to rise sharply while passing over the AA gun at Farm Hill and disappear from view. Lehmann, who believed his bombs fell on ‘the docks and eastern part of [London]’ now turned for home, going out to sea again near Clacton at about 1.00am.












For details of casualties and damage see Part 1

The second army Zeppelin, LZ.88 commanded by Hauptmann Falck, came inland at about 11.30pm near Orfordness, Suffolk. She followed a route towards Ipswich, but on encountering machine gun fire from Rushmere Heath, she circled to the west of the town. LZ.88 then crossed the River Orwell, attracting fire from the gun at Levington Heath, and headed east back towards the coast. As Falck crossed the River Debden just after 1.00am he began releasing his bomb load, the majority of which (ten HE and 53 incendiaries) landed between the villages of Ramsholt - here some windows were broken - and Alderton, with a final bomb landing near Hollesley at 1.15am. Falck may have mistaken the Debden for the Orwell, intending his bombs for Felixstowe.


For more details of the raid see Part 1