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)


9th February 1916


At 3.26pm on a bitterly cold Wednesday afternoon, the North Goodwin Light Vessel, off the Kent coast, reported the sound of approaching aircraft. Ten minutes later observers at the North Foreland lookout post saw two German seaplanes overhead. The aircraft, a Hansa-Brandenburg NW, no. 487, flown by Leutnant Friedrich Christiansen, and a Friedrichshafen, FF33e were both from Seeflieger Abteilug (SFA) No. 1 based at Zeebrugge. Between them the two aircraft dropped four bombs near Ramsgate and, according to the official report, nine on Broadstairs although other accounts give 12.


Of the Broadstairs bombs, four dropped on the Bartrum Gables girls’ school in Dumpton Park Drive. One of these bombs exploded on the upper floor causing the ceiling below to fall on a class of children. One, 9-year-old Hermione Michaels, sustained slight cuts while a housemaid, Alice Earlop, was also injured. Three more bombs landed in the school grounds and although a number of the pupils were using the playing fields, damage was restricted to broken windows.


A bomb that exploded at a house named Tenerife in Dumpton Park Drive cut the cheek of a Miss Strevens and others exploded at the rear of Beresford House on Ramsgate Road and in the garden at Beaumont House.


The other four bombs were dropped to the north of Ramsgate. One, apparently aimed at a tram travelling on the main road between Broadstairs and Ramsgate, exploded in the road close behind the tram. The driver pulled up and the passengers got off, watching the aircraft as three more bombs dropped harmlessly in fields nearby, close to the Montefiore College, a synagogue and the Lillian Road School.


An eye-witness in Ramsgate reported that, ‘The raiding machines were seen by everybody in the town, and the crosses on the planes could be clearly distinguished.’


The RNAS sent up 19 aircraft in response to the attack as well as four from Dunkirk, and the RFC added five aircraft from Dover, but none was able to engage as the raiders turned for home as soon as they offloaded their bombs.

Casualties: 0 killed,  3 injured


Damage: £305

Friedrichchristiansen Bartrum Gables (2)

Friedrich Christiansen - SFA No.1

Bartrum Gables School