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, Essex

30th September 1917


On this latest raid Kagohl 3 sent out 11 Gothas and one single-seater C-type aeroplane. One of the Gothas returned early. Although the main target was London some chose the easier target of Margate, the closest point in Britain to their airfields in Belgium.


Margate suffered four separate attacks. The first at about 7.00pm saw two incendiary bombs (in Byron Road and Clifton Street) strike the town without effect. At 7.45pm three HE and three incendiaries fell close to the railway line between Queen’s Avenue and College Road, killing two people in Buckingham Road. About 35 minutes later another Gotha dropped four HE bombs (1 x 50kg and 3 x 12kg) without damage in Dane Park. The same Gotha then dropped one 12kg HE and seven incendiaries as it passed over Northdown, heading towards Kingsgate and the sea. None of the bombs had any effect, neither did a final incendiary that struck a house in Percy Avenue, Kingsgate. The final bombs dropped on the town at 9.10pm. HE bombs fell in Cliffe Terrace, Edgar Road and St. Paul’s Road, and an incendiary in Sweyn Road. At Cliffe Terrace four died as did one person in St. Paul’s Road. In one of the attacks a bomb exploded in Trinity Square killing four people. At 8.12pm an attack took place just south-east of Margate, over the Reading Street district of St.Peter’s, Broadstairs. Three HE bombs fell in fields on Elmwood Farm, killing a cow and injuring three others.


Other bombs fell in the area around Chatham. Shortly after 8.00pm three 12kg HE bombs dropped at Borstal, near Rochester: two on fields at Manor Farm and one in the Medway river mud. Just across the river another fell at a cement works at Cuxton breaking some telegraph wires. About an hour later two more 12kg HE bombs fell at Borstal, both landing in fields on Upper Delce Farm. None of the bombs caused damage. Two more 12kg HE bombs fell south of Chatham at about 8.30pm, one at Chatham Cemetery failed to detonate and the other landed harmlessly in a field at Walderslade. A final bomb dropped in the sea about 30 yards from the shore north of Graveney.


One aircraft battled through the AA gunfire at Dover, believed to be the C-type. Three incendiaries fell to the north-east of the town, one close to the Duke of York’s School Hospital, breaking windows, and the other two in a field 200 yards from the airfield at Guston. Over the town a 12kg HE bomb fell in an allotment in Castle Avenue, followed by one that struck 59 Peter Street and injured a passer-by, and a third landed at the Dover Engineering Works in Bridge Street but caused no damage. One final bomb fell in the sea at the harbour.


Only three bombs dropped in Essex, all at Thorpe Bay, Southend-on-Sea. A 50kg HE bomb buried itself in the Thames Estuary mud without exploding and one of the two incendiaries set fire to the roof of a house.

The first bombs in London fell at about 7.45pm when an Incendiary in Queen’s Road, Plaistow, caused minor damage. Moments later a 50kg HE bomb landed at the Midland Railway sidings at Plaistow Station, followed by four 50Kg (one failed to detonate) at the Midland Railway cleaning sheds at Durban Road, West Ham, damaging three locomotives, the shed roofs and about 170 houses.


At about 8.00pm an attack developed over north London. The first bomb, a 50kg HE, fell in a siding at Hornsey Station damaging part of the track, followed by another that landed in the grounds of St. Aloysius’ College on Hornsey Lane smashing 300 windows there and in 28 neighbouring houses. At the St. Pancras Infirmary a bomb damaged the wall on Dartmouth Park Hill and injured a man. A bomb in the grounds of Holly Lodge did no damage but one that landed in Swain’s Lane near the junction with Highgate Road smashed a gas main and caused minor damage to 32 houses. Moments later three HE bombs dropped on a cricket pitch on Parliament Hill, damaging the pavilion. The rest of the bombs dropped on London fell in the half hour between 8.15 and 8.45pm.


At about 8.15pm an HE bomb hit 3 Fairfoot Road, Bromley-by-Bow, partly demolishing the house, killing an 80-year-old-man, injuring five other people and damaging 16 other houses. Another bomb, in Weston Street, failed to explode. In Poplar a bomb exploded in Southill Street, smashing a gas main, injuring nine people and causing varying amounts of damage to around 100 properties including houses, shops and a school. The next, just yards away in Kerby Steet, partly demolished No. 111 and damaged over 69 other properties, while in Newby Place a bomb smashed windows in a number of properties including those at Poplar Police Station.


A little after 8.30pm an HE bomb in Pymmes Park, Edmonton, damaged 33 houses and a few minutes later two 12kg HE bombs  at 12 Cambridge Park, Wanstead, injured two people. About 10 minutes later two HE and eight incendiaries fell in Barking, in fields off Movers Lane and in Howards Road and King Edward Road, causing only limited damage.


At about 8.45pm bombs dropped on western edge of Woolwich. The first, a 50kg HE, exploded behind 23 George Street knocking a wall down onto the main railway line and smashing windows in about 25 houses. An incendiary landed harmlessly inside the Royal Dockyard close to the west wall, followed by another 50kg HE that exploded in Trinity Street damaging a number of buildings and the roof of the GPO’s Submarine Cable Depot in the Dockyard. An incendiary fell in Bowater Road causing only minor damage then, across the Thames, an incendiary fell in a yard on North Woolwich Road, Silvertown, followed by one at Custom House on Victoria Dock Road and another on Fords Park Road, Canning Town. All three proved harmless. Two incendaries dropped at the East Ham Isolation Hospital on Roman Road, causing limited damage and another fell on 15 Lichfield Road with minor damage.


The AA guns in Kent, along the Thames estuary and around London fired 14,311 rounds against the 11 aircraft that appeared over south-east England. Two RNAS and 31 RFC aircraft took off but only a handful of pilots caught fleeting glimpses of the raiders.  



Casualties:  14 killed,   38 injured


Damage: £21, 482