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)


For casualties and damage see Part 1

31st January/1st February 1916 (Part 3)


For more details on the raid see Parts 1 & 2

The final raider, Zeppelin L.20 commanded by Kapitänleutnant Franz Stabbert, headed west and as she approached Stamford released a single HE bomb, damaging windows in Uffington. As L.20 continued on a westward course lights drew her to Loughborough where Stabbert released four HE bombs over the town. The first fell in the backyard of the Crown and Cushion Inn in Ashby Square, blasting a large crater, smashing outbuildings and windows over a wide area. The second bomb exploded in the street, in The Rushes, gouging a great hole and sending great chunks of paving cartwheeling through the air. Four people died in the blast. A third bomb exploded in an orchard in Thomas Street without causing serious damage or injury, then the fourth bomb claimed more victims. It exploded in the street opposite the Empress Crane Works killing five. In Loughborough final casualties were 10 killed and 12 injured.


L.20 then headed north, passing to the west of Nottingham before dropping a single HE bomb near Kimberley, damaging telegraph wires. Then, between Awsworth and Trowell L.20 dropped another seven HE bombs. One exploded close to the Bennerley Viaduct but only damaged a signal box. Others caused damage to railway tracks, telephone and telegraph wires and a cow shed. Three minutes later, at 8.30pm, L.20 was south of Ilkeston and released 15 HE bombs on the Stanton Ironworks at Hallam Field. The bombs killed two men, injured two and damaged the moulding shop, the blacksmith’s shop, a stables and a schoolroom attached to the church. From there L.20 headed towards Burton where official sources estimate she dropped about 12 incendiary bombs at 8.45pm, the first bombs dropped on the unfortunate town that night causing the fires that attracted other raiders. Having used up her bombs L.20 then turned for the coast, which she reached near Cromer at 11.52pm.

L.17, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Herbert Ehrlich, came inland about ten minutes after L.19, just west of Sherringham, but encountered thick cloud. Moments later a searchlight at RNAS Holt, at Bayfield, a couple of miles from the coast, broke through the cloud and illuminated L.17. In response, Ehrlich dropped twenty high explosive bombs hoping to extinguish the light. Ten of these fell in a field 200 yards from RNAS Holt, five more to the south-east of the naval air station while five landed in a field 400 yards south of it without causing any damage. Heading on a southerly course, L.17 then released another five HE bombs and one incendiary over Bayfield Lodge, about 800 yards from RNAS Holt. These bombs wrecked a barn and greenhouse and also blew out all the windows and damaged roof tiles but there were no casualties. From there L.17 steered to the west, dropping 14 incendiary bombs on Bayfield Hall, but these all landed in fields and a wood. The final HE bomb landed at Letheringsett, south of Bayfield Hall, where the blast broke a few windows. In his report Ehrlich believed he had bombed an industrial complex at Immingham on the River Humber. L.17 dropped no more bombs and eventually took a course to the coast via Reepham, passing north of Norwich at 8.10pm and out to sea south of Great Yarmouth 20 minutes later.


The last two Zeppelins to come inland, L.11 and L.20, arrived over the Wash together, parting company near Sutton Bridge at about 7.10pm. It appears that L.11, commanded by Kapitänleutnant von Buttlar with Peter Strasser, commander of the Naval Airship Division, on board, headed north west, passing Lincoln and south of Sheffield before reaching a point over the Peak District between Sheffield and Macclesfield. Von Buttlar thought he had reached the west coast, but now in thick fog it was impossible to be sure. Von Buttlar consulted with Strasser who ordered L.11 to return to base. Without any obvious target in sight L.11 dropped no bombs in the four hours she was over England. She passed out to sea south of Ingoldmells at about 11.15pm.