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,


24th/25th August 1916 (part 2)


Kapitänleutnant Erich Sommerfeldt brought L.16 inland over Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast at 11.05pm. It was a cloudy night making observation difficult but she was heard to the south-east of Saxmundham at about 11.15pm and appeared to be heading for Ipswich. It seems Sommerfeldt became uncertain of his whereabouts because at 11.30pm he hovered over Wickham Market for ten minutes before heading west for a few miles then turned back eastwards to Woodbridge. Here L.16 hovered again, releasing a single incendiary bomb at 11.47pm before turning towards Ipswich again. Sommerfeldt dropped a high-explosive (HE) bomb as he passed over Martlesham at midnight followed by six HE and three incendiary bombs dropped on Kesgrave about ten minutes later. Blasts damaged telephone and telegraph wires along the main Ipswich-Woodbridge road, broke windows at Bracken Hall and an HE bomb damaged barley and clover growing on Hall Farm. Other bombs landed on open heathland. Attracted by two searchlights that were probing the sky, Sommerfeldt turned away from Ipswich then dropped five HE and four incendiary bombs near Playford at 12.15am. One fell within 60 yards and another 20 yards of the Bealings searchlight. L.16 then returned to the coast, passing back out to sea near Aldeburgh at about 12.40am.


Oberleutnant-zur-See Kurt Frankenburg, commanding L.21 over England for the first time, reported that he had bombed Harwich but actually came inland at 1.43am about seven miles to the south at Frinton. Heading north slowly he arrived over Pewit Island twelve minutes later and unknowingly passed close to an explosives works on neighbouring Bramble Island.  L.21 spent only 20 minutes overland, during which time seven AA guns opened fire getting off 85 rounds. Frankenburg flew a curving course dropping 18 HE bombs in the thinly populated area bordered by the villages of Great and Little Oakley and the sea. Most landed in fields but one landed close to Little Oakley Hall and a batch of six landed between Little Oakley – damaging two cottages – and Foulton Hall in the parish of Ramsey where they smashed windows in a farmhouse and seriously damaged a granary and cow-house. Frankenburg dropped his last bomb, an incendiary, on a mud flat known as Crabknowe Spit while still south of Harwich. L.21 then headed up the coast, finally passing Harwich, then Felixstowe, while still under fire, before turning out to sea of the mouth of the River Debden at about 2.15am.









L.32, commanded by Oberleutnant-zur-See Werner Peterson, first appeared off Kent at 11.17pm but after a number of probes along the coast she turned back across the Straits of Dover towards France. At 2.10am she appeared again at Folkestone, dropping three or four bombs in the sea between there and Dover, which place she reached ten minutes later. Driven off by the Dover garrison’s AA guns, she reappeared about two miles east of Deal at 2.55am where she dropped 18 HE bombs aimed at shipping. None of the bombs hit their targets despite Peterson claiming to have destroyed one ship with a ‘devastating explosion’. L.32 then rendezvoused with L.31 about a mile east of Ramsgate as she returned from London before setting course for home.


Defence pilots made 14 sorties that night from Eastchurch, Grain, Manston, North Weald, Suttons Farm, Hainault Farm and Dover while the raiders were still in the vicinity. While some caught glimpses of L.31 and L.32, only one managed an attack. Captain J.W. Woodhouse of 50 Squadron, took off from Dover and spotted L.32 in the Dover searchlights. Having pursued her out to sea he eventually engaged her, firing a drum and a half of the new Pomeroy explosive bullets, from a position about 2,000 feet below. The bullets had no effect at this long range and, having lost sight of his prey while reloading the Lewis gun, Woodhouse turned back and returned to Dover.



For more details on the raid see Part 1








For casualties and damage see

Part 1