Tag Archives: london

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.

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30 September 1917 – Even more

Today, the Germans carried out another raid on England. At the time it was estimated that 25 aircraft attacked but records show that it was in fact 11. The smaller number no doubt caused by losses over the last few raids.

Aircraft began to arrive over England around 1840, and the raid went on to 2200. One aircraft made a subsidiary attack on Dover, dropping only four bombs which slightly damaged the Dover Engineering Works and injured one man.

The rest attacked London. At the time the crews reported substantial damage but in reality this was one for the less effective raids. Houses were damaged in various areas of East London killing one person and injuring 17.

Another 26 bombs fell on various places in Kent, and three at Thorpe Bay, Essex, but they did little damage.

Once again the anti-aircraft gunners caused substantial accidental damage, firing a total of 14,061 rounds which killed 2 persons and injured 14.

The German crews, in their reports, made reference to the heavy bombardment to which they were subjected, but given that they were able to drop their bombs and escape unharmed suggests that the barrage fire appeared to be far more effective than in fact it was. No aircraft were able to intercept.

 

29 September 1917 – More giants

After the general failure of last night’s attack, Seven Gothas and three Zeppelin-Staaken bombers returned to England tonight – the numbers no doubt reduced due to the nine Gothas lost yesterday.

Despite the smaller numbers the raid was altogther more successful. killing 40 people and injuring 87.

55 bombs fell int total. 30 of these fell on various places in Kent, notably Sheerness and the Uplees Powder Works, north of Faversham. The latter had a narrow escape when four high explosive bombs buried themselves in the mud close to the works.

The weather was once again cloudy, but it appears that four aeroplanes bombed London between 2110 and and 2145. Most of the damage done was to houses property, particularly in the Notting Hill, Kingsland, and Kennington districts. Two bombs fell on Waterloo Station but hurt nobody, The casualties in London, due to the bombing, were twelve killed and sixty-two injured.

However the wall of anti-aircraft fire caused nearly as much damage. 12,700 shells, , were sent up by the anti-aircraft gunners, about half of them by the inner and outer London defences. They killed two people, injured 24, and damaged 290 houses, about half of them seriously.

One Gotha was brought down in flames by anti-aircraft fire as it was coming in at Dover, and another, for some reason unknown, made a forced landing in Holland. 30 defence aeroplanes took off but none engaged the bombers.

28 September 1917 – Giant

27 German bombers – 25 Gothas and two of the new “giant” Zeppelin-Staaken bombers (which had arrived from the Eastern Front on 22 September 1917) – attempted a raid on London today. Of these 15 turned back before dropping any bombs due to heavy clouds.

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Zeppelin-Staaken

Some of these must have at least reached the English coast as around 20 bombers were reported between 1930 and 2200 on the Thames Estuary, the counties of Kent and Essex, and north of Harwich.It appears around forty-four bombs were eventually dropped, though others could have fallen at sea. There were no casualties and little damage.

Twenty aircraft went up to intercept biut the thick clouds meant that they saw little. On this occasion, the anti-aircraft gunners faired better. Guns engaged two aeroplanes which approached Deal at 2047, The gunners reported that a shell hit one of the two bombers and that the damaged aeroplane appeared to fall into the sea. The HMS. Marshal Ney also claimed that to have brought down a bomber near Ramsgate as it was coming in at 1950. Three bombers which passed Sheppey were fired at soon after 2000, and again one was reported as shot down. A search was subsequently made, but no trace was found of any of the aeroplanes reported to have been shot down.

However, later German records show that three Gothas were lost that night so on this occasion it appears that the victories claimed were legitimate. 6 more Gothas were also wrecked o landing.

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.

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.

5 August 1917 – Ashmore in charge

Following Smuts preliminary report on home defence, it was recommended that a senior officer of air experience should be placed in executive command, under the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief, of the defences of the London area.

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Edward Bailey Ashmore

Today, Brigadier-General Edward Bailey Ashmore was appointed. His command embraced the whole area considered to be liable to aeroplane attack and was, therefore, much wider than the term ‘London Air Defence Area’ implies. It included:

(i) the whole of the anti-aircraft fixed defences (guns and lights) in the anti-aircraft commands of London, Harwich, Thames and Medway, and Dover, with the Eastern Command detached defences.

(ii) such anti-aircraft mobile batteries as were placed at his disposal. These included the mobile brigade and the anti-aircraft mobile batteries then in the Harwich and Dover anti-aircraft defence commands.

(iii) such Royal Flying Corps home defence units as were placed at his disposal. When the command began these were the home defence squadrons, Nos. 51, 75, 37, 39, 50, and 78. Others were added later.

(iv) the aircraft observation posts under the Commandant, Observer Corps, Royal Defence Corps, in the warning districts roughly east of the line, Grantham—Portsmouth.