19 March 1916 – Kent raided

The German Navy mounted a rare raid by its aeroplanes today as 6 aircraft attacked the south coast of England. The attackers consisted of four Friedrichshafen FF33s, a Hansa-Brandenburg NW and a Gotha Ursinus WD.

At 1.57pm three aircraft appeared over the Admiralty harbour at Dover. Four bombs fell on Northfall Meadow, close to Dover Castle. One smashed into a hut housing men of the 5th battalion Royal Fusiliers – killing Frank Roseberry and Walter Venables, and injuring 13 more, two seriously. More bombs fell on Castle Street and Folkestone Road killing Edith Stoker, and 7-year-old Francis Hall who was on his way to Sunday School and casuing extensive damage. The aircraft then turned back towards the harbour, dropping a bomb in Northampton Street killing Mrs Jane James and injuring two other women. Two more bombs were dropped with minimal damage to the harbour.

By this time a second aircraft had begun bombing Dover. At Eastbrook Place a bomb hit an orphanage but the occupants had hid in the basement and escaped injury. Further bombs fell close together in Church Street, King Street, Russell Street, Woolcomber Street and Trevanion Street, causing varying amounts of damage. Finally two more bombs hit the harbour.

Then, at about 2.12pm, two other German aircraft, approached Ramsgate and dropped 14 high-explosive bombs on the town. One bomb landed on a car causing the petrol tank to explode. It killed the driver Harry Divers, five children and severely injured Mrs G.M. Bishop.

Other bombs hit the town causing damage to buildings but without causing any more injuries. The final bomb of the raid fell on 29-30 Fort Crescent, Cliftonville, Margate used as headquarters of the 9th Provisional Cyclist Company, damaging the roof and dislodging chimneys.

The RFC and RNAS managed to get 26 aircraft in the air, from Dover, Eastchurch, Grain and Westgate. A FE2b being ferried to France by Lieutenant Reginald Collis and Sergeant A C Emery that also joined in the attack. Collis and Emery spotted the Hansa-Brandenburg NW. He then dived on the aircraft and Emery’s gunfire damaged the floatplanes cooling system and put one cylinder out of action, as well as wounding the observer. The aircraft went into a steep right-hand spiral with its engine spouting steam. At this point Collis had his own engine problems and lost contact. The German observer, Oberleutnant-zur-See von Tschirschky, managed to climb onto the wing and repair the radiator with a handkerchief and tape. They managed to remain airborne until twenty miles from Ostende. After taxing for a while they were able to get airborne again and return to the German base at Zeebrugge.

Flying from Westgate, in Nieuport 10, No 3964, Flight Commander Reginald John Bone, CO of RNAS Westgate, spotted one of the Friedrichshafen FF33s and forced it down 30 miles northeast of the North Foreland, but had to return due to being short of fuel. The enemy machine was assisted by another floatplane and was later towed back to Zeebrugge.

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