World War One - Zeppelin Raids

Last Updated: 08/05/2014 - 09:05

On the morning of January 19th 1915 two German Zeppelin airships, the L3 and L4 took off from Fuhlsbüttel in Germany. Both airships carried 30 hours of fuel, 8 bombs and 25 incendiary devices. They had been given permission by the Emperor Wilhelm II to attack military and industrial buildings. The Emperor had forbidden an attack on London due to concern for the Royal family to whom he was related.

The two German Zeppelin airships crossed the Norfolk coastline at around 8.30pm. Having crossed the coast the L3 turned north and the L4 south. The incendiary bombs were dropped to enable the pilots to navigate to their chosen locations Great Yarmouth and Kings Lynn where they dropped their bombs.

A total of nine people were killed and some buildings were damaged. But the effect of the raid on a population who were used to battles being fought by soldiers on the battlefield was immense.

Morale dropped and people feared further raids and believed that a German invasion would follow.

Further raids were carried out on coastal towns and London during 1915 and 1916. The silent airships arrived without warning and with no purpose built shelters people hid in cellars or under tables. There were a total of 52 Zeppelin raids on Britain claiming the lives of more than 500 people.

Although artillery guns were used against the airships they had little effect. In May 1916 fighter planes armed with incendiary bullets were used to attack the Zeppelins. The incendiary bullets pierced the Zeppelins and ignited the hydrogen gas they were filled with. Once alight the airships fell to the ground. It was the beginning of the end of the raids.