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

7th July 1917


On the morning of 7 July the new commander of Kagohl 3, Rudolph Kleine, launched the second successful Gotha raid on London. Observers on the Kentish Knock lightship reported a force of 22 Gothas at 9.14am. Home defence aircraft began to take off at 9.30am, 15 minutes before the Gotha formation came inland over the River Crouch in Essex. Before then one Gotha turned away and, flying over Kent, dropped three HE bombs on the Cliftonville area of Margate at about 9.30am. Falling east of Dane Park, one demolished a house at 11 Arundel Road and killed the three occupants, Mr & Mrs Marks and Agnes Cooper. A bomb that landed in the back garden of 7 Price’s Avenue demolished the rear of the house while the remaining bomb caused damage to buildings in Crawford Gardens and Northdown Road. The local AA guns fired off 115 rounds.


As the rest of Kagohl 3 passed inland, the guns of the Harwich AA command fired over 400 rounds without deflecting the attack on London from where the first AA gun opened fire at 10.21am. Soon joined by 43 others, they fired over 2,060 rounds. Over Epping Forest Kagohl 3 split into two sections, the first turned towards London over Tottenham while the second continued to Hendon before it also turned towards the City, allowing the attack to be carried out in two waves just a few minutes apart. The first bomb fell harmlessly in Chingford, followed by others in Tottenham and Edmonton. The first casualties occurred when two bombs fell in Boleyn Road, Stoke Newington, killing nine and injuring the same number as well as causing widespread damage. In all about 72 bombs fell between from Stoke Newington in the north to London Bridge in the south, and from King’s Cross in the west to Whitechapel and Stepney in the east. These bombs claimed 44 lives and caused injuries to 135 people, while AA shells killed another 10 and injured 55.


In the City five died in Bartholomew Close, one in Cox’s Court, a soldier on duty at the Central Telegraph Office died too, as did a man in Fenchurch Street and four men in Lower Thames Street. Other bombs in the City caused damage in Aldersgate Street, Barbican, Leadenhall Street and at Billingsgate Fish Market.


In Tower Hill eight people were killed as were three horses and 15 people injured. In Shoreditch 12 died in Witham, Gifford, Styman, Murray, Herbert, Cavendish and Wenlock streets and over 40 were injured. Three bombs landing close to St. Pancras station damaged the Midland Railway Goods Station and 14 houses as well as killing a man. Bishopsgate Goods Station was also struck by three bombs which damaged 53 houses nearby. On the Thames a bomb struck and sunk a barge moored at Cotton’s Wharf as Kagohl 3 turned east along the river and away from London. One AA shell that landed close to the docks, in Strafford Street, Millwall, killed four people and injured seven others.


The RFC sent up 79 aircraft of 20 different types, while the RNAS had 22 aircraft searching for the raiders. A number of aircraft made contact with the Gothas but many reported their guns jamming or the inability of their aircraft to keep up the pursuit. One aircraft did manage to engage effectively. An FK8 from No.50 Squadron, piloted by 2nd Lt. F.A.D. Grace with 2nd Lt. G. Murray as observer/gunner, spotted a straggler, attacked, and shot it down over the sea while RNAS aircraft pursued the Gothas back towards Belgium. Two British aircraft were lost. An Australian pilot, 2nd Lt. W.G. Salmon flying a Sopwith Pup of No. 63 (Training) Squadron, attacked the Gotha formation but a bullet pierced his petrol tank while another cut across his forehead. He attempted to get back to Joyce Green airfield but died when his aircraft crashed before he reached safety. The other aircraft, a Sopwith 1½ Strutter of No. 37 Squadron, crewed by 2nd Lt. J.E.R. Young and Air Mechanic C.C. Taylor, appears to have fallen victim to ‘friendly fire’ from an AA gun. Both men died.












Casualties:  57 killed,   193 injured


Damage: £205,622


2nd Lt. W.G. Salmon

Royal Flying Corps