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)


3rd May 1916



The details of this air raid appear a little confused as regards to the number of bombs - some official sources say seven and others nine high-explosive bombs. Also the exact locations of some bombs are missing in official and newspaper accounts written at the time.


At about 3.30pm on Wednesday 3rd May a single Hansa-Brandenburg NW floatplane of SFA 1, based at Zeebrugge, appeared over Deal, approaching the town from the direction of Ramsgate. Although it was bright day there were banks of cloud, making observation and identification difficult. As it circled over the town for a couple of minutes it did not raise any undue concern, those who saw it presuming it was a British aircraft.


Reports state that six bombs fell in the locality of the railway station, but none actually on it. One of these bombs exploded on what some reports describe as an outhouse and others as a lodge, by a tarred path leading to the station. The bomb destroyed the roof and smashed windows in about 20 houses. Considering where those bombs we do know fell, this may be Church Path. A railway ticket inspector, Mr Potnell, walking along the path to the station received severe injuries to his arms and legs and later had a leg amputated. Not far away near Sutherland Road, a milkman, Charles Hutchins, also suffered a leg injury from a flying bomb fragment. Another bomb fell in a road nearby making a crater and smashing numerous windows in the area. A third bomb destroyed the roof and the upper storey of a house, severely injuring an invalid woman who lived there. A large part of the roof landed in the road and stopped the traffic. Details of the other three bombs near the station are not recorded, it is unlikely therefore that they caused any significant damage.


The last identifiable bomb landed on the roof of Admiral Keppel pub in Manor Road, near the western end of Church Path, and directly opposite St. Leonard’s Church. It appears not to have detonated. Damage amounted to ‘dislodging the tiles, and damaging the top part of the structure’. Flying debris appears to have caused minor damage to the church.


The official report then adds that ‘Two further bombs dropped did no damage’.  


The surprise appearance of the raider meant defence aircraft only got airborne after it had started its return journey. With a head start and low cloud they had no chance to engage the raider.



Casualties: 0 killed,  4 injured


Damage: £720


St. Leonard's Church (left) and the Admiral Kepple pub (right) had a narrow escape on 3rd May 1916.

(Photo courtesy of Jane Bedo)