Tag Archives: Gotha

29th October 1917 – Turkey Shoot

Poor weather today, led to the abandonment of a mass Gotha raid on London and instead three experienced crews were sent off to bomb the sought coast of England. Two turned back due to high winds and poor visibility and bombed Calais instead.

One aircraft did reach England, but with high winds and clouds, it appears that it caused all sorts of panic as at least 10 aircraft were reported by observer posts. Eleven bombs in all were dropped on Rawreth, Rayleigh, Hockley, and Burnham. Some very minor damage was caused, but at the end of it all the only casualty of the raid was a turkey killed in Hockley.

The Gotha flew over Southminster at 2255 and headed out to sea. AA guns at Barton’s Point on the Isle of Sheppey opened fire at around the same time, but as the Gotha was too far away their target must have been the Home Defence aircraft (from 37 and 39 Squadrons) which were up at the time. None of these were able to locate the raider who flew home without mishap.


1 October 1917 – Gothas again

For the fourth night in a row German bombers arrived over England. 18 Gothas set out but only 12 made it to England.

Gothas arrived over the Kent coast at about 1900 and 19 minutes later dropped bombs over Sandwich, Richborough, Kingsgate, and Broadstairs. Various buildings were damaged but fortunately no casualties resulted.

In Essex, the sound of aircraft was detected by the Harwich garrison and at 1940 the garrison opened fire with over 200 rounds forcing the Gothas away to the south. Most of the bombs fell in the sea or in open fields and little damage was caused.

Around 2000 the first Gothas reached London. In all 29 bombs fell on the capital. 26 HE and 3 incendiary bombs fell. A large number of houses suffered minor damage, though only a few were destroyed. 10 people were killed and 32 injured.

The barrage fire of the AA guns proved partially effective and appears to have succeeded in driving a number of the raiders off. There was, however, a downside to the AA fire; falling shells killed a woman and injured 13 others.

The RFC sent up 18 aircraft to intercept the raiders but the misty conditions made observation difficult. Only one pilot caught a glimpse of the Gothas but was unable to make an attack.

24 September 1917 – They’re back

After a gap of three weeks, Kaghohl 3 returned to England with 16 Gothas. Of these, three turned back early with engine problems, three battled through to London, six bombed the area around Dover and four dropped bombs over south Essex and Kent.

The first attack occurred over Dover around 1915, where the six Gothas dropped 42 bombs. A number of houses were destroyed and five people were killed and 11 injured.

The four Gothas that roamed over Essex and Kent failed to cause much damage either. Between 2000 and 2030 bombs fell on various town and villages causing minor damage. The only serious damage occurred when at about 2030 eleven bombs dropped at the army camp at Leybourne, about seven miles south west of Chatham, killing two soldiers of the Lincolnshire Yeomanry and destroying various buildings.

The first Gotha reached London at 2005. Eight bombs fell on East London and a number of building suffered serious damage and one person was injured.

The next Gotha attacked north London causing minor damage. It then flew westwards and dropped more bombs, again casusing minor damage. The bomber then turned east and headed towards the centre of London. The next bomb landed in Bloomsbury, outside the Bedford Hotel, killing 13 and injuring 22. The Gotha then flew east dropping more bombs alog the way causing significnant damage to the Royal Academy of Arts.

The third Gotha to bomb London bombed the northwest around 2040. Minor damage tO property resulted, but a boy was killed and two others injured.

30 RFC aircraft took off to oppose the raid but none sighted any of the Gothas.

The British were also using a new defensive tactic for the first time. Colonel Simon and Captain ARF Kingscote had developed a scheme which placed a series of ‘curtains’ of shell bursts in the path of raiding aeroplanes. The scheme gave screensbursts about 2,500 feet from top to bottom. The screens could be ordered for five different heights, varying between 17,000 and 5,000 feet.

The map used by the anti-aircraft gunners was divided into numbered squares, and as the enemy aeroplanes were shown, according to sound-plotting, to be about to enter a particular square, the controlling officer directed vertical barrage fire on the face of that square. As the bombers passed from square to square in the barrage zones, they would be met by successive barrage screens. If, however, a target was found by a searchlight beam, the barrage fire would cease and guns would attack the target directly.

The British reported that the new barrage forced some of the Gothas to turn back from London in the face of this new intense AA fire. One Gotha was claimed shot down in the Thames, but in rality all the bombers got back, although one was wrecked on landing, possibly as a result of an AA hit.

24 September 1917 – die Rache

Throughout September, DH4s from RNAS Squadrons based at Dunkirk have been attempting to disrupt German bomber squadrons targeting England by bombing their aerodromes. The Germans have finally had enough and this evening they attacked the RNAS depot at St. Pol.

Luckily for the Germans, bombs hit the pump-house, which supplied the water for the fire mains. It put the fire mains out of action and when the engine repair-shed was set on fire there was no way to put it out.

About a thousand men were organized to save material from the various buildings, but great damage was caused anyway. The engine repair-shop, saw-mill, machine-shop, spare engineshop, engine packing-shed, and the drawing and records offices were all destroyed.

In the engine packing-shed one hundred and forty engines were lost (83 130hp Clerget; 10 110hp Clerget; 37 80hp Le Rhone; 5 150hp BR1; 1 200hp B.H.P.; 1 90hp Rolls-Royce; 1 250hp Rolls-Royce; and 2 275 hip Rolls-Royce.

Given the shortage of supply of engines, there has been a great focus on salvaging and repairing old engines for reuse. This is a major blow to the RNASs operational capacity.

Despite all the damage, luckily no one was seriously injured.

4 September 1917 – It’s on

Last night’s attack on Chatham proved that night raiding could be successful and tonight the first night time attack on London was attempted. Eleven Gothas set out, though two turned back early with engine problems. Five eventually attacked London while the other four attacked targets in Kent, Suffolk and Essex. At the time of course, the number was exaggerated with the Official History noting that 26 raiders were estimated.

The first attack was on Suffolk at around 2225pm, where some minor damage but no casualties resulted. At 2238pm seven bombs fell on Margate, casuing extensive damage to uildings in the town but fortunately only injuries to five men and three women. In Dover, there was also property damage but this time there were three dead and seven injured. The fourth raider dropped eleven bombs near Tiptree, Essex, but only a few broken windows resulted.

The remaining 5 Gothas attacked London in three waves beginning at 2300, 0030 and 0050. 57 bombs in total were dropped, five of which did not explode, and the casualties were 8 men, 7 women, and 1 child killed, and 25 men, 1 constable, 23 women, and 7 children injured.

About 40 AA guns opened fire but the searchlights found it hard to hold the raiders in the bright moonlight. The commander of the gun at Borstal was convinced that they hit a Gotha which was flying on the Kent side of the river and that the aeroplane was destroyed. However, no wreckage was found despite the river being dredged. German records show, however, that one Gotha was lost during the raid, though the circumstances are unknown so it is possible that the AA fire caused enough damage for the aircraft to crash in the sea on the way home.

2 September – Blame it on the Moonlight

The loss of a number of Gothas had led the Germans to abandon daylight raids over England by aircraft. However, tonight saw the first moonlight raid by the Gothas of Kagohl 4. The normal raiders Kagohl 3 were off getting night-flying training. Kagohl 4 normally carried out raids on the coastal areas of France but some aircraft diverted to attack Dover (British sources claim two, the German only one).

The raid was over rapidly before any searchlights or guns could get into action. At 2305, fourteen bombs fell on the town. Two of these (one of which failed to explode) were converted 9.84-inch trench-mortar shells, weighing 91 kg., Conisderable damage to properties was caused but despite this only one person was killed and 10 injured.

Two aircraft went up from RFC Dover but neither was fast enough to have any impact.

18 August 1917 – High winds foil raid

The weather proved more effective than British patrols in foiling raids by German Gothas today.

This morning 28 Gothas from Kagohl 3 set out from Belgium. However, clear skies in Belgium were matched by a rain swept England. While crossing the English Channel it became clear that the winds were too strong and the cloud cover too heavy for any reasonable chance of success.

The formation turned North with the intention of of making a wide circle over the North Sea to take them back to the Belgian coast near the Dutch frontier, but
the strength of the wind increased and the Gothas began to straggle.

One of them, running for home direct, came down on the beach near Zeebrugge. Most of the others passed over the Dutch island of Schouwen, where six bombs were dropped about 1130. They then turned south-west again and were last seen about twenty strong, flying in the direction of Zeebrugge.

Two aircraft got lost over Holland, and were shot down by Dutch gunners near the German frontier. The crews, uninjured, were taken prisoner, and the Gothas were destroyed. A number of other aircraft were damaged on landing.