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)


Casualties: 0 killed,  0 injured


Damage: £0

Just 12 hours after the previous raid, German seaplanes returned to Dover. A Friedrichshafen FF 33b and a Hansa-Brandenburg NW, flying at great height to avoid detection, came inland between Folkestone and Dover. Approaching the town from the west, they appeared over Dover on Sunday afternoon at 12.52pm. The raiders attracted immediate fire from the Dover anti-aircraft guns and from ships moored in the harbour; one passed out to sea towards the east while the other headed on an ESE course. Neither dropped any bombs.


The aircraft on the easterly course then turned back and approached Dover again, from the west, at 1.10pm. The anti-aircraft guns all opened on this sole aircraft, which again departed without dropping any bombs. The other raider had circled to the south and came inland again near Folkestone. At 1.23pm it dropped five high explosive bombs on the Royal Naval Air Service airship base at Capel-le-Ferne, but failed to cause any material damage.


The comings and goings of the raiders left some confusing reports but it seems that one also passed over Dover again at 1.55pm from the direction of Folkestone and dropped two bombs. An eyewitness, standing close to the pier confirmed this when he wrote: ‘They dropped a bomb within about fifty yards of me, fortunately a “dud” and in the water. A second one fell immediately after, just short of a hospital ship lying alongside.’


The anti-aircraft guns at Dover - at the Castle, Drop Redoubt and Langdon Battery - fired 71 rounds from a 6-pdr, 30 rounds from a 3-inch, 20cwt gun and 499 rounds from their four 1-pdrs. The same eyewitness who saw the bombs drop also watched this retaliation.


'From one-pounder pom-poms up to three-inch and even seven-inch, both from the ships and the forts, they were all blazing away for all they were worth, while the Huns seemed to like it and to be even smiling at their efforts.’ The official reports state that the shells were all bursting short of their targets.


Four RFC aircraft and a RNAS flying boat, all based at Dover, took off. Although four of them reported sighting the raiders as they headed back to Belgium, they were too far away to be caught.

23rd January 1916


The Royal Naval Air Service airship sheds at Capel-le-Ferne, bombed by a German aircraft on Sunday 23 January 1916

Capel airship base