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)

E. Yorks., Lincs., Leics., Rutland, Kent

5th/6th March 1916 (Part 2)


The third Zeppelin to raid Britain that night was Heinrich Mathy’s L.13. Mathy was in fact the first to come inland, at about 9.15pm. But having been dogged by engine problems, a snowstorm over the North Sea and extremely poor visibility, Mathy was way off course. He believed he was near Sunderland but was actually many miles to the south, at North Cotes in Lincolnshire near the mouth of the Humber. Mathy struggled to confirm his position and at one point reports placed him a few miles east of Nottingham while he still had hopes of reaching Scotland! After further engine problems Mathy gave up on his target and hoped instead that the wind would carry him south to Hull - unknowingly he was already well south of the Humber and began a flight from the east Midlands that eventually took him to the Kent coast. To lighten his ship Mathy released 32 incendiary bombs at about 11.15pm, which fell in open fields between the church and the village of Sproxton in Leicestershire. Then, a few minutes later, Mathy he dropped a single HE bomb on the village of Edmondthorpe without damage, followed by  14 or 15 HE bombs which also landed harmlessly, on grass or arable fields in the triangle formed by the villages of Thistleton, Market Overton and Greetham.


His ship now lightened, Mathy and L.13 continued on this course to the south-east but only at about 1.15am on approaching a large estuary, which he at first thought was the Humber but then recognised as the Thames, did he realise just how far off course he was. Mathy attempted to battle against the wind near Shoeburyness to make an attack, receiving two rounds from the AA gun there before its traversing gear jammed. L.13 then tried to battle against the 44mph northerly wind over the Isle of Sheppey. Mathy managed to hold his position at about 9,000ft over Sheerness for about 10 minutes, during which time he dropped four HE bombs, which landed near Minster-in-Sheppey, on Ripley Hill Marshes and Danley Farm. Neither the bombs nor the 6-pdr gun at Sheerness that fired in response had any effect. Further guns opened on L.13 as she resumed her south-east journey across Kent and passed out to sea near Deal at about 2.25am. By the time L.13 reached safety she had only two of her four engines running.  


For more details on this raid see Part 1



Casualties: 18 killed,  52 injured


Damage: £25,005

P1090667a L13 (2)

Zeppelin L.13


Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Mathy