12 August 1916 – Enemy Aircraft over Dover

Today at around 12.30pm, a single German aircraft, piloted by Leutnant Ilges, of Marine Landflieger Abteilung 1,came inland just north of Dover. High cloud obscured his approach on the town itself and the aircraft appeared suddenly over Dover, dropping a bomb on the RNAS airfield at Guston Road, near to Fort Burgoyne, before anyone noticed it.

The explosion obviously alerted the defenders, and within minutes RNAS aircraft were taking off to intercept. Eventually, although ten aircraft (a mix of landplanes and seaplanes) eventually took off from Dover, Manston and Westgate, only one pilot, 2nd Lieutenant Charles Allen Hore, from 50 Squadron RFC, saw the German aircraft. He chased it for a while but eventually lost it in a cloud bank.

While the defenders scrambled, Ilges dropped his second bomb near Dover Castle where it landed in front of the officers’ mess at a military camp on North Fall Meadow occupied by 5th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, slightly wounding an officer and five privates who were on parade. Ilges third bomb exploded on a cliff south-east of the Castle wounding a soldier of 61st Protection Company, Royal Defence Corps, who was chopping wood and smashing windows in nearby houses. The fourth bomb landed in the sea.

At this point, ten of the Dover anti-aircraft guns opened fire, firing a goal of 141 rounds of varying calibre and type. As Illges had dropped all his bombs, he flew for home.

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