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

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26th May 1915

Hauptman Erich Linnarz raided England again with LZ.38 on the night of 26 May 1915. This time he returned to bomb Southend once more – as promised.


On a clear moonlit night, LZ.38 passed Clacton at 10.30pm and then crossed the Blackwater estuary before approaching Southend, where it appeared at around 10.50pm and began dropping 47 incendiary bombs and 23 small high explosive (HE) bombs. Of the first 60 recovered, 29 were found at Leigh, 14 at Westcliff and 17 at Southend. Damage was less than in the previous raid but casualties were greater: three people died.


Miss May Fairs, aged 35, from Bow, London, was staying at the family’s holiday bungalow in Westbourne Grove, Westcliff. She was returning from meeting her father at the station, but shortly after alighting from a tram, shrapnel from a falling anti-aircraft shell struck May on the head and killed her.


The second death occurred two days after the raid when 7-year-old Marion “Queenie” Pateman succumbed to her injuries. Queenie, of 3 Broadway Market, Southend, was in bed when an incendiary bomb smashed through the roof and set her bed on fire. The child, suffered severe burns to her head, back and legs before she could be rescued by her 16-year-old sister; she never recovered.


The third death was that of Mrs Florence Smith, who was standing at the door of her house in Westminster Drive, Westcliff, during the raid. It appears she also suffered shrapnel injuries from an anti-aircraft shell, which landed in the road about eight or ten yards away. She suffered severe injuries to her head and breast and died in hospital on 15 June.


Many of the incendiary bombs landed in the open causing little damage but there were four fires of note, at Dowsett Avenue, Anerley Road, St. Helen’s Road and at All Saints’ Schoolroom, Sutton Road.


LZ.38 had come under anti-aircraft fire from a 1-pdr pom-pom at Southminster and a 3-inch gun positioned at Shoeburyness. Then, as she departed over Burnham, LZ.38 also attracted rifle fire from a company of the 2/8th Battalion, Essex Regiment. Five RNAS aircraft from Eastchurch and Grain attempted to intercept her but failed.


Casualties: 3 killed, 3 injured


Damage: £987

16a 31 (2a)

Zeppelin LZ.38 - the Southend raider

3-inch anti-aircraft gun