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, Yorks., North-east

2nd/3rd May 1916 (Part 2)


The remaining five Zeppelins raided over Yorkshire where the weather conditions appear to have been slightly more favourable. By far the most deadly attack was that made by L.21 (Kapitänleutnant Max Dietrich). L.21 came inland near Scarborough at about 9.40pm and followed a south-east course to the south of York where she changed course to follow the railway leading into the city. Between Copmanthorpe and Dringhouses on the south-west edge she released five HE and 13 incendiary bombs. Damage was limited to broken windows but two soldiers received minor injuries. At least 16 bombs dropped on York city. An incendiary on Knavesmire caused no damage, but three HE and two incendiaries landing at Nunthorpe Hall - serving as a VAD Hospital - destroyed the roof, but none of the nursing staff or patients were injured. The next HE bomb fell in Nunthorpe Avenue, killing 28-year-old Emily Chapman and seriously injuring her sister and mother. In Upper Price Street another HE bomb made a direct hit on number 13, destroying it and seriously damaged other houses. It also killed an elderly married couple in their bed: George and Sarah Avison. Further HE bombs fell in Nunthorpe Road, Victoria Street and Price’s Lane, smashing doors and windows and damaging roofs. In Newton Terrace an HE bomb injured three people and wrecked four houses. A woman was injured in Kyme Street where an HE bomb blasted doors and windows. The last HE bomb landed in St. Saviourgate where it seems a number of people were in the street watching the raid. The explosion ripped out the fronts of a number of houses.  Two soldiers, Sergeant Edward Beckett and Private Leslie Hinson, were helping an elderly lady, Susannah Waudby, to reach her house in St. Saviourgate when the bomb exploded; all three died. Others killed were William Chappelow, Ernest Coultish and Benjamin Sharpe. On her way back to the coast L.21 dropped one more bomb, an incendiary, which fell harmlessly at Kirkby Grindalythe.


The raids by the remaining four Zeppelins did not quite live up to expectations. L.23 (Kapitänleutnant Otto von Schubert) came inland over Robin Hood’s Bay at about 9.15pm and headed west over the North Yorkshire Moors. Over Danby High Moor von Schubert released an incendiary bomb, presumably to check his ground speed and drift; it was to have enormous consequences. He then followed a course to the north, to the ever-popular target of the Skinningrove Iron Works. Von Schubert released seven HE bombs and four incendiaries at about 10.05pm, but the only damage was a partly wrecked and burnt storehouse. A 6-in gun at Brotton opened fire on L.23, getting off three rounds. Von Schubert turned away to the east and five minutes later released six incendiary bombs over Easington, which caused injury to a child and damaged a house. L.23 then began her homeward journey.





For Casualties and Damage see Part 1

Following on behind L.23, Oberleutnant-zur-See Werner Peterson brought L.16 inland at some time prior to 10.00pm, but her movements do not become clear until she appears over Rosedale Abbey on the North York Moors at 10.30pm. Peterson saw a large fire to the north and steered towards it. The incendiary bomb dropped earlier by L.23 had caused a heather fire on the moor. Peterson believed the blaze was the town of Stockton-on-Tees and commenced to drop an undisclosed number of his own bombs on to the fire. From Danby High Moor L.16 followed the Esk valley eastwards and at around 10.50pm dropped five HE bombs on the village of Lealholm. The bombs caused slight damage to a farm building and smashed some windows but no one was injured. At about 11.15pm Peterson dropped five incendiaries harmlessly over the village of Moorsholm before commencing his homeward journey.  


Kapitänleutnant Herbert Ehrlich brought L.17 inland at about 10.50pm near Saltburn, between Middlesbrough and Skinningrove. She made straight for the latter place and dropped 13 HE and four incendiary bombs, which all fell on the neighbouring village of Carlin How. The bombs wrecked six houses and blasted roof tiles off and smashed windows in many others but there were no casualties. The glow of a huge fire to the south-west then attracted Ehrlich’s attention and he set a course towards it. He reported it as ‘a coastal city…apparently Saltburn’ but it was Danby High Moor, and at about 11.30pm, L.17 added a number of her bombs to the immense fire below.  Ehrlich then headed for the coast and went back out to sea just to the north of Whitby.


The last Zeppelin involved in the raid this night, L.13 (Kapitänleutnant Eduard Prölss), came in near Whitby at about 10.30pm. After taking a south-west course she was seen at the North Yorkshire Moor’s village of Goathland, and then the trace of her is lost until she reappears about 35 miles to the south near Market Weighton at about 11.40pm. It seems highly likely, however, that L.13 contributed a significant number of her bombs to the raging conflagration now engulfing Danby High Moor before reaching Market Weighton, as she only dropped two other bombs during the raid. Presumably unsure of his whereabouts, Prölss released two parachute flares over Pocklington before heading north. He dropped a single incendiary at Fridaythorpe a little before midnight, falling harmlessly in a grass field. At Rillington she turned east and at about 12.40am dropped a second incendiary at Seamer, south of Scarborough, again without damage.  Then about 10 minutes later, Prölss took L.13 out to sea just to the north of Scarborough.


It is impossible to determine exactly how many bombs fell on Danby High Moor. The local police recorded 39 large craters made by explosive bombs and 7 smaller ones from incendiaries. They also reported that any which failed to explode were likely to have sunk below the boggy ground and were untraceable.  


For more details of the raid see Part 2