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, North Yorks.,


For casualties and damage

see Part 1

By far the most successful raid of the war, from a German perspective, was that made on London by Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Mathy and Zeppelin L.13. Mathy came inland near King’s Lynn at about 8.50pm, headed south and, beyond Cambridge, followed the line of what is now the A10 road as far as Ware in Hertfordshire, before approaching London from the north-west. As he closed on the London suburb of Golders Green, he released two high explosive (HE) and 10 incendiary bombs but only three landed on or near houses.


Nearing central London, Mathy began to drop the first of 13 HE and 45 incendiary bombs as L.13 passed Euston Station. Bombs landed in Bloomsbury at 10.45pm; one HE bomb fell in Queen’s Square, an area surrounded by hospitals, but although hundreds of windows were smashed, no one was hurt. At 10.49pm, a HE bomb landed outside ‘The Dolphin’ public house at the corner of Lambs Conduit Passage and Red Lion Street. The blast wrecked the National Penny Bank and the pub, killing Henry Coombs who was standing outside. A fireman, J.S Green, later died from injuries caused while fighting the fire in Lambs Conduit Passage. Another 16 people were injured. L.13 continued eastwards, dropping bombs as she crossed Gray’s Inn Road and on towards Farringdon. A HE bomb struck Laney’s Buildings, Portpool Lane and, as well as causing severe damage, killed four children and injured six adults and another child. Just south of Smithfield Market, Mathy then dropped the largest bomb of the war so far - weighing 300kgs - on Bartholomew Close. It had a devastating effect on the surrounding buildings and killed two men, William Fenge and Frederick Saunders, as they emerged from the Admiral Carter pub.


L.13 then passed over the narrow streets of the City of London, from Aldersgate Street to Moorgate Street. Some serious fires broke out; in Wood Street a fire caused damage calculated at £207,000 to the premises and stock of Messrs. Ward, Sturt and Sharp, wholesale hosiers. Mathy dropped his last bombs around Liverpool Street Station. One struck a bus at the corner of Blomfield Street and Liverpool Street, killing three and injuring a number of others and, by huge misfortune, a bomb hit another bus on Norton Folgate, killing nine and injuring ten as well as causing significant damage in the area.


In defence, 26 guns opened fire, from as far away as Woolwich, with the last shots recorded at 11.00pm, but virtually all shells burst short of the target except one fired by the gun on Parliament Hill in north London, which forced L.13 to climb steeply. She eventually made her exit near Caister shortly before 2.00am.



The wrecked No.8 bus hit by a bomb in Norton Folgate, just north of Liverpool Street Station


The burnt out premises of Ward, Sturt and Sharp in Wood Street

For air crew losses see Part 1

8th/9th September 1915

(Part 3)

Ward Sturt SharpA No 8 bus