23 February 1915 – Terror of the air captured

Oberleutnant-zur-See Prondzynski was captured today along with his observer Fähnrich-zur-See Heym following a raid in Essex on the 21st in which one person were killed. Prondzynski had previously conducted raids on 21 and 25 December but has now been put out of action.

Engine problems forced the FF 29 down in the sea, following the raid. The remained there for 30 hours before being rescued by a British trawler and made prisoners of war.

Friedrichshafen FF29

Their aircraft, a Friedrichshafen FF 29 floatplane, no.203, crossed the English coast near Brightlingsea around 7.45pm. They then travelled West proceeding westwards dropping two incendiary bombs over Braintree around 8.30pm. The first bomb fell in a field near the railway station, between the London and Notley roads. It made a hole about a foot deep and set fire to a fence. A group of soldiers saw the bomb and carried the bomb using a fence post to the river where they extinguished the flames. Moments later a second incendiary landed in a field at Great Bradfords Farm that burnt itself out harmlessly.

Five minutes later the crew dropped a high explosive (HE) bomb which landed at Coggeshall in a meadow adjacent to Abbey View. Shrapnel damaged the carpenter’s shop and smashed windows in the greenhouse. Another piece of shrapnel flew through the cowshed, just missing a cow, before smashing through a window in the house. Although there were no direct casualties, Mrs Thomas Parker, wife of an agricultural worker, died from shock as a result of the explosion.

A fourth bomb was dropped moments later at Marks Tey – between Coggeshall and Colchester. It fell in a garden causing some minor damage to nearby cottages.

At about 8.40pm, the final bomb dropped on Colchester, landing in the back garden of 41 Butt Road, occupied by Quarter-Master-Sergeant Rabjohn, 20th Hussars, and his family, not far from the Artillery Barracks. The bomb wrecked outbuildings and kitchen furniture, while several shrapnel bullets flew into the room where Rabjohn and his wife were eating supper, but they were untouched, as was their infant upstairs who slept through, despite the collapse of part of the ceiling. About 50 other houses suffered minor damage from the blast.

Bomb damage at 41 Butt Lane


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