ZEPPELIN RAID on the UK: 19th JANUARY, 1915.
The Germans carried out a two-day Bombing Raid on Great Yarmouth, King’s Lynn and Hull, causing 1,413 casualties and 3,409 injuries. Named after its inventor, Graf von Zeppelin (1900) the Zeppelin was first used over Antwerp in August 1914.
According to The National Archive (a very useful website <www.national archive.gov.uk>) the main strength of Zeppelins, as weapons of war, ‘lay in their psychological impact on an island people used to the protection of the British Navy’.
The Archive provides a range of images and goes on to explain that to some extent the danger was exaggerated for Zeppelins ‘did not handle well in poor weather‘; and their large size, at 3,000 ft, provided a ‘good target for machine gunners and pilots‘. Of course, if they flew at 10,000 ft such attempts at defence were totally ineffective. To provide some sense of protection the government erected barrage balloons.
There is also evidence that imminent threat of raids was kept from the general public and even from local government officials (much to their anger) when Zeppelins bombed towns in the Midlands, in 1916.
THE HIBBETT LETTERS describe the fear and distress caused by the Zeppelin Raid on Walsall in 1916. Bertie’s mother, standing in the door of 95, Foden Rd, waiting for his father, watched the huge sinister shape pass slowly overhead. Arthur Hibbett, escaped from the Education Office just in time, but the Mayoress of Walsall (1) was killed whilst riding on the top of a bus.
NB: The first Zeppelin raid on London did not take place until 31st May 1915.
The WALSALL OBSERVER was sent regularly to Pte BERTIE HIBBETT & his brother SYDNEY when training in Luton, Bishop’s Stortford and Saffron Walden. The weekly list of casualties, with photographs of soldiers they knew, would have been read with deep regret and no doubt some trepidation as the brothers waited to be sent to France.
JANUARY 1915 WAR ITEMS & other topics which would have caught Pte Bertie’s eye: –
2nd Jan. ‘Christmas in Walsall: Good Cheer for the Sick and the Poor’.
9th. Jan. ‘The European War: Day of Intercession. Bishop of Lichfield at St. Matthew’s Parish Church’. “What we hope & pray for – Victory for a Righteous Cause”.
9th Jan. ‘Territorial Trifles: Stories of South Staffords fine work at the Front’; ‘Staffords in Action’; ‘Adulterated Milk’.
16th Jan. ‘Marching.’
23rd Jan. ‘Come to Church Sunday: Free Churches and Church of England’; ‘Administration in Education. Interesting Debate. Should Authorities be elected bodies?’
30th Jan. ‘Underfed Children: Education Committee Decision’; ‘Christmas Truce Witness’.
(1) Mrs. J. N. Cotterell, Mayoress of Walsall, 1914 -1915. The Cotterells lived at Beverley House, Lichfield Road, Walsall, now a friendly hotel.
NB The Record Office in Essex Street, Walsall, has copies of the Walsall Observer on microfiche for most of 1914 – 1918.
NEXT TWO POSTS: 24th Jan. 1915: LUTON Musketry/ Firing Course.