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, Kent

25th September 1917


In this second raid of the Harvest Moon Offensive, 14 Gothas came inland with three reaching London, the others dropping their bombs over Kent or in the sea.


The first bombs dropped were in Kent at about 7.15pm. An incendiary fell in a field at Luddesdown, about 300 yards from Henly Croft House followed, three miles further on, by an HE bomb at Cuxton, about three miles south-east of Rochester. The bomb fell in a marsh about half a mile south-west of Cuxton railway station. Neither bomb caused any damage. At about the same time more bombs dropped nearer the coast, between Sandwich Bay and Minster. Two HE bombs fell at 18 Acre Marsh on Ebbsfleet Farm, near an army ammunition dump at Weatherlees Hill, injuring a soldier. Four more fell in a cornfield at Sevenscore Farm, about half a mile north-west of the railway at Ebbsfleet Halt, causing no damage. Another landed on Durlock Marshes, half a mile south-east of Minster railway station, and one fell on Clapper Hill Marsh, about 50 yards from the previous bomb. They caused no damage. A little later four HE bombs were dropped on waste ground south of the Richborough Works (possibly at Stonar Cut) followed by three at Worth: one on land at Prince’s Golf Club about 50 yards from the Sandwich searchlight, another on the beach near the golf course and one close to the Coastguard Station at Shingle End.


At about 7.35 two bombs fell south of Garlinge, one landing close to the Haine Hospital and the other in a plantation at Red House. Neither caused any damage. A third bomb dropped at Packer’s Farm, Northwood, in the St. Peter’s district of Broadstairs, causing £150 worth of damage to a barn, store and stable in which a horse was killed.


Another group of seven bombs landed in the Folkestone area at about 7.45pm. An HE bomb fell at Hawkinge in a meadow a quarter of a mile east of Coombe Farm, two dropped on Caesar’s Camp, an ancient hill fort on the northern outskirts of Folkestone, followed by four at the waterworks just to the west of the hill, with two of them falling in the reservoirs. None of these bombs caused any damage but the authorities shut off the supply while they tested the water to make sure it had not been contaminated.  



The first of the London AA guns opened fire at 7.40pm from Wanstead, with barrage fire commencing seven minutes later along the Blackwall to Grove Park line. Around this time a Gotha hurriedly dropped four bombs over Blackheath - an HE bomb (Beaconsfield Rd) and three incendiaries (Glenluce Rd x2 and Coleraine Rd) - all of which failed to detonate, before the pilot turned back to the east and ran the gauntlet of AA guns along the Thames estuary. British records claim two Gothas dropped bombs over south-east London at around 7.55pm while German sources state only one bomber was involved. The first bomb, an incendiary, fell in a garden at 33 Nutcroft Road, Peckham, where it caused no damage. An HE that fell in the roadway at Goldie Road, Camberwell failed to detonate but another that exploded in Cobourg Road killed two people and severely damaged eight houses, causing lesser damage to many others nearby and in neighbouring streets. Moments later another HE exploded in Odell Street, severely damaging seven houses and injuring a child, with damage affecting other houses in the street and in Domville Grove. The next HE bomb fell behind 9 Mina Road, ripping off the backs of five houses and damaging a warehouse while also causing slight damage to a number of properties in the road and in Old Kent Road. The next HE bomb dropped as the Gotha crossed the Old Kent Road, exploding behind a bakery at No. 269, severely damaging the property and those either side, while also causing damage throughout the area with 55 buildings in the street suffering to a greater or lesser extent. Seconds later another HE bomb fell in Marcia Road, gouging a great crater in the roadway and smashing a gas main. The explosion killed three men and a woman, and also injured 15 people, as well as severely damaging ten properties and causing lesser damage to 44 others in Marcia Road with damage extending into Upper Grange Road, Rolls Road, Earls Road and Northampton Street. Another line of 15 bombs, all incendiaries, caused no casualties and very little damage. In New Cross one fell on the Fever Hospital in Avonley Road, causing slight damage to a laundry room, while another that struck a school in Monson Road had only a limited effect. In a railway goods yard a bomb caused minor damage to a building and the next bomb, at 32 Bawtree Road, merely set fire to a garden fence. Another landed harmlessly on the road in Clifton Hill followed by two in Childers Street, Deptford, also without effect. Three that fell in Wotton Road only caused slight damage at No. 22 and in Evelyn Street one incendiary caused minor damage to a tram track. Between Evelyn Street and the Thames three more fell: one harmlessly at Deptford Dry Dock and two on stores resulting in only minor damage. Crossing the Thames one more bomb fell, at Sufferance Wharf on West Ferry Road, where it caused minor damage to an office.


AA guns in the south-east fired off 2,690 rounds, with 1,013 of those by the guns defending London. A side effect of this defensive fire was damage to 56 properties in London and the deaths of three men on a ship berthed at the Royal Albert Dock. The RNAS put up two aircraft from Manston while five RFC squadrons had 18 in the air. Only two of the Home Defence pilots saw any of the raiders and engaged, but without result.

















Casualties: 10 killed,   22 injured


Damage: £16,394