17 June 1917 – Another one bites the dust

Following the successful aircraft raid. On 13 June, another Zeppelin raid was made overnight with the same result as the raid on

Four Zeppelins set off to bomb England, but with only four hours of darkness, it was obvious that the airships would be unable to penetrate very far inland. In the event they encountered head winds and only two reached the coast.

The L42 appeared over the North Foreland at 0205 and bombed Ramsgate, Manston, and Garlinge. One bomb exploded in a naval ammunition store near the Clock Tower in Ramsgate Harbour and great military damage was caused. The buildings of the naval base were destroyed and many thousands of windows throughout the town were shattered. Two men and a woman were killed and seven men, seven women, and two children were injured.

During the attack the Zeppelin was caught by search light but lost again, apparently due to the fact that the underside of the L42 was painted black. A number of Naval pilots went up to intercept. Flight Sub- Lieutenant George Henry Bittles, in a seaplane, engaged the L42 at 11,000 feet when she was thirty miles east of Lowestoft, but her nose went up rapidly and the seaplane was soon outdistanced. Flight Lieutenant Egbert Cadbury, in a Sopwith Pup also caught up with the L42 at 15,000 feet and at once attacked. However, a petrol-pipe fracture hampered the plane’s climbing ability and the Zeppelin was able to get away. Another flying boat chased and the at 16,000 feet, found herself alone and out of harm’s way and, although a flying-boat took up the L42 but was unable to catch up.

The L48 was first seen about forty miles north-east of Harwich at 1134, but did not actually come inland until 0200, having struggled with engine problems and a frozen compass. L48 then attacked Harwich but was driven off by anti-aircraft fire.

Two aircraft took off from the RFC’s Orfordness Experimental Station shortly before 0200. Lieutenant Ernest William Clarke in a BE2c fired four drums at long range as he was unable to get above 11,000 feet. Lieutenant Frank Douglas Holder flying a FE2b with Sergeant Sydney Ashby as his observer made a number of attacks, but Holder’s front gun jammed and so did Ashby’s while firing his fifth drum.

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London Pierce Watkins

At 0328 near Theberton, Captain Robert Henry Magnus Spencer Saundby, RFC also from the Orfordness  Station in a DH2 and Lieutenant Loudon Pierce Watkins, 37 Home Defence Squadron RFC in a BE12 made further attacks.  Saundby fired off three drums and Watkins fired off three as well. At that point the L48 burst into flames and crashed into a field at Holly Tree Farm. Remarkably, three of the crew survived, albeit badly injured – Heinrich Ellerkamm, Wilhelm Uecker and Otto Miethe.

Captain Franz Georg Eichler, and the commander of the Naval Airship Division, Korvettenkapitän Viktor Schütze, who was also on board were both killed. Other crew members killed were Heinrich Ahrens, Wilhelm Betz, Walter Dippmann, Wilhelm Gluckel, Paul Hannemann, Heinrich Herbst, Franz Konig, Wilhelm Meyer, Karl Milich, Michael Neunzig, Karl Floger, Paul Suchlich, Herman Van Stockum and Paul Westphal.

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The wreckage of L48

Watkins was credited with the victory and later awarded the Military Cross.

An excavation of the crash site was carried out in 2006.

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