This Day In History: The First Air Raids On Britain Takes Place (1915)

On this date in 1915, the first recorded air-raid on Britain took place. The raid was carried out by German Zeppelin airships.  The Zeppelin was a massive airship that could fly at great heights. These ships were massive dirigibles that were guided by a crew who used an engine to guide the ship. The airships were designed by the German inventor  Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin in 1900. He adapted what was a French invention and developed a ship that could fly higher and offered better control to the crew. The Zeppelin was undoubtedly the best dirigible of the era. Before the war, the Germans believed that these airships could be useful and adapted for military uses. They recognized that they could be employed for reconnaissance. The Zeppelins were also adapted by the Germans so that they could drop bombs on targets. Bombs were attached to the Zeppelin and they were dropped by the crew when they were over a target. The bombs were released when the airship was directly overhead an objective. The bomb loads that these ships could take were limited even though the Zeppelins were the largest airships that had even been built to that data.

Zeppelin the designer of the German airships.

The Zeppelins were massive but this also made them more vulnerable. The heavy steel framed dirigibles were not robust and they were liable to explode. The airships were dependent on highly flammable hydrogen gas rather than helium. This was because hydrogen was needed to lift the huge airship.

In January 1915, three types of Zeppelins were used in the first air raid on England. Germany employed three zeppelins, the L.3, the L.4, and the L.6, in the mission. The L6 was forced to turn back because of mechanical problems. The two remaining Zeppelins took almost a day to reach the coast of England. They came overhead the town of Yarmouth on the coast of East Anglia.  The airships dropped several bombs on the town. Yarmouth was not prepared for the attack and it shocked the inhabitants.  Some men on their way to work in the early hours of the morning spotted strange lights, little did they realize that they were the lights of giant airships about to attack the sleeping town. The Zeppelins bombed hit the town and caused considerable damage to some houses. Two people were killed in the raids and several more are wounded.  The airships then floated along the coast to the nearby town of Kings-Lynne here another two people were killed. After they had dropped all their bombs the two airships returned to Germany, safely.

The air raid caused considerable shock in England and many people feared that future air raids would bring even more death and destruction.

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