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)

N. Yorks., E. Yorks.,


5th/6th Apr 1916



Three Zeppelins, L.11, L.13 and L.16, took part in this final raid of what had been an intense burst of German activity starting on 31 March to take advantage of the the dark skies of the new moon. One, L.13, however, turned back early with engine trouble.


Korvettenkapitän Victor Schütze brought L.11 inland over Hornsea at about 9.10pm and followed a south-west course towards Hull, which he had bombed exactly a month earlier. As he approached the city, Schütze dropped a high-explosive (HE) bomb that landed in a field at Sutton-on-Hull at 9.17pm, slightly damaging a farmhouse. Much to the surprise of the crew of L.11 they now came under a concentrated anti-aircraft fire. Anger at the defencelessness of Hull after the March raid had seen guns positioned to protect the town. Schütze continued southwards, dropping three HE bombs near East Park, breaking windows in Holderness Road and side streets off it. There were no casualties from the bombs but Jesse Matthews, living in Barnsley Street, died of shock. L.11 steered eastwards towards Marfleet but, still under fire, turned back to the north. Having circled around the villages of Swine and Burton Constable L.11 turned south again, heading towards Heddon and eventually going out to sea near Aldbrough at 9.50pm.


One of L.11’s rear engines now failed which the crew had to fix as Schütze intended striking Hartlepool too, but before he could reach it his forward engine also failed. He decided to head for home but lights from a furnace attracted his attention and he decided to drop his remaining bombs on it. At 2.29am L.11 began dropping the first of nine HE and 20 incendiaries (of which six failed to ignite) on the ironworks at Skinningrove. Bombs destroyed the laboratory at the ironworks but the only other damage was to the school, a shop and a number of houses at the village of Carlin How. There were no casualties and L.11 passed out to sea near Hinderwell at 2.50am.

Casualties: 1 killed,  9 injured


Damage: £7,983

Oberleutnant zur See Werner Peterson thought he brought L.16 inland near Scarborough and set a course towards York and Leeds. In fact he was further north, crossing the coast just north of Hartlepool at 11.30pm.  Flying a south-westerly course he passed to the south of Bishop Auckland. When L.16 reached Evenwood, Peterson’s attention was attracted by the ‘fiery waste tips’ of collieries in the area; he turned over Railey Fell Colliery before dropping 13 HE and ten incendiary bombs over Evenwood and Randolph Colliery. The bombs wrecked 15 miners’ houses, damaged another 70 and injured a man and a child.


Peterson retraced his route back towards Bishop Auckland and, when south-east of the town, dropped 17 HE and ten incendiary bombs on the Eldon-Coundon Grange-Close House area. Eleven of the HE bombs dropped harmlessly but others killed a 9-year-old boy, Robert Moyle, in Close House, and also injured a woman and two children. The bombs also destroyed two miners’ houses, seriously damaged 11 while also breaking the windows in 28 houses and 18 shops. Among the damaged buildings in Close House were the Co-op shop and Friends’ Meeting House both in Gibson Street. Although there were a number of collieries close by, none were damaged.


L.16 then returned to the coast, followed it to the north as far as the mouth of the Tyne before turning for home at 1.50am.


Four RFC and one RNAS aircraft unsuccessfully attempted to intercept the raiders. Captain John Nichol, No.36 Squadron RFC, died when his aircraft crashed into a house at Cramlington and his bombs exploded.

Air crew losses:


RFC: 1 killed