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

29th/30th September 1917


Although Kagohl 3 had only seven serviceable Gothas available, they launched another attack aimed at London joined by three ‘Giants’ of Rfa 501. Once again, the noise created by the engines of the ‘Giants’ caused confusion on the ground as to how many aircraft were over Britain - German reports claim that four Gothas and the three ‘Giants’ dropped bombs on land.


At about 9.00pm the first bombs dropped in Kent, disappearing into the mud close to the Uplees Powder Works near Faversham.  At 9.50pm a raider returning from the London area dropped two bombs (one failed to detonate) at Golden Wood near the village of Bapchild, smashing windows in two cottages. At about 9.55pm another of the outbound raiders saw flares burning at the RFC airfield at Throwley and released 10 HE bombs. All fell in fields south of the airfield, one at Tong Green and nine at Bells Forstall.  At 11.40pm another of the homebound raiders, possibly a ‘Giant’, dropped 14 x 50kg HE bombs as it passed over the Isle of Sheppey. Two landed near the Sheppey light railway, north-west of Holm Place Farm and west of Halfway Houses. A soldier of the 5th battalion Rifle Brigade at Holm Place Camp received a slight wound. The next dropped in a meadow at Halfway Houses, near Sheppey Cemetery, killing ten horses, followed by another in a field between Catherine Road and the power station that caused considerable damage to a number of properties. The fifth bomb hit the railway tracks near the power station and then two fell in fields on Ripney Hill Farm, followed by two in fields close to East Minster Station, with the final five all falling just east of the station, between it and Minster, in a meadow on Harp’s Farm where they killed a horse and two cows.  Besides the livestock killed, the Sheppey bombs caused damage to property estimated at £500. Further to the east a 50kg HE bomb fell in the sea off Whitstable but about three months later an unignited incendiary bomb attributed to this raid was discovered near the town in a meadow just north of Old Seasalter Church. Just after midnight a final bomb fell in Kent, exploding in a cabbage field at Cliff End Farm on the outskirts of Minster-in-Thanet, causing minor crop damage.


In London, two HE bombs dropped on Putney Common at 9.24pm. One exploded in Mill Hill Road killing a couple out for a stroll, George and Elizabeth Lyell. A few minutes later five HE bombs fell between Kennington and Waterloo. The first demolished the back of 18 Renfrew Road and damaged 66 other houses. About 400 yards on, a bomb exploded in the grounds of the Bethlam Hospital (now the Imperial War Museum), immediately followed by one in Mead Row off Kennington Road, which injured five people and damaged nine houses. Two bombs

dropped at Waterloo Station, one on the north siding by York Road and the other on the tracks between the station and the bridge over Westminster Bridge Road causing widespread damage to the tracks, rolling stock and neighbouring buildings. Five minutes later a 50kg HE bomb failed to explode when it hit 68 Canrobert Street, Bethnal Green, but still caused significant damage to the house, while an incendiary that hit 26 Studley Road, Forest Gate, caused only slight damage.


Around 9.30pm an aircraft approached London from the north, dropping an HE bomb in a field at Caenwood Towers on Hampstead Lane, Highgate, killing a sheep, followed by another that landed in the grounds of a school on Highgate Lane, damaging two houses nearby. Heading towards Islington, the next bomb struck Alwyne Road, Canonbury, destroying two houses, after which a string of nine 12kg HE bombs straddled the Kingsland Road towards Haggerston. The first three fell in De Beauvoir Road followed by one at the rear of 34 Mortimer Road that killed two and injured two. The next fell outside 313 Kingsland Road, followed by one in Lee Street that killed one and injured eight. A bomb landed in Trafalgar Road without casualties but the two that fell in Shrubland Road killed two children and injured another as well as two men and a woman. This string of bombs damaged 81 houses. Moments later a 50kg HE bomb fell in St. Jude’s Street, Bethnal Green, wrecking one house and seriously damaging two others while causing lesser damage to others in surrounding streets.


At around 9.45pm another aircraft appeared over London. The first bomb, a 50kg HE, fell in the garden at the rear of 11 and 12 Ladbroke Gardens, Notting Hill, causing damage to 82 buildings in the area. The next bombs fell about five minutes later in north London with devastating effect. Two 50kg HE landed in Benwell Road, just off Holloway Road. They killed a child and injured three other people as well as damaging about 65 properties in Benwell Road and Queensland Road. The next bomb dropped at the junction of Hornsey Road and Seven Sisters Road, smashing down through the cellar flap outside The Eaglet public house. A number of people had taken shelter there when the raid began. Rescuers pulled out 32 injured people but four were dead, including Janet Crouch, the landlord’s wife. Seconds later a final bomb fell, exploding behind No. 1 Orpingley Road. Six houses suffered significant damage and 44 others in the same street lesser damage, as did 13 houses in Marcellus Road and seven in Hornsey Road. The bomb also injured six people.


The raiders encountered an intense AA bombardment, with the guns firing off 14,823 rounds. It seems likely that the Dover guns brought down a Gotha although the possible victim would have crashed about two miles offshore and was difficult to confirm. The RNAS put up two aircraft while the RFC had 28 in the sky. Only one positively saw a raider, two others caught momentary glimpses.  




















Casualties:  14 killed,   87 injured


Damage: £23,154