Tag Archives: Zeppelins


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”.

Bishop of Lichfield
THE BISHOP OF LICHFIELD:  The Right Revd. J. Augustine Kempthorne, D.D., with his daughter.   (Bertie sent this PC to his Mother for her birthday in 1913!)


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.

20th Dec.1914: Saffron Walden: On Guard for Zeppelins & Church Parade

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT: Some Loose Pages 6 -7 could belong to a Letter to Ida on 20th Dec. 1914

. . .   What is either side doing?

I pictured you in Church this morning – singing on & on the long Psalm (1).

St Paul’s, Walsall, where the Hibbett Family worshipped on Sunday mornings. Now called The Crossing at St Pauls.

I can hear Mummy talking about us, just for conversation’s sake at the dinner table, to break the solitude.  No, now I come to think of it, it is Miss Bore (2) dining with you & Harold.  Well then you are all larfing & joking about something that tickled your fancy.  Perhaps Miss Bore has not said “Mum” yet.  Sorry, but no bad intention in saying that, but still.

Never you mind, we are on guard (3) at Saffron Walden  so it sais on a p.c. and every fourth night we have to parade PROMPT when the whistle blows & go to a dark field –  it is at night. – To-night, Sunday, has hit upon the fourth night, so we have been told beforehand to parade at 9-15 p.m. for patrol duty, spying out Zeppelins with a 2d electric torch – I don’t think.

It is getting dark & I’m afraid I shall have to conclude.  I thought I would write Dad’s letter in ink & so I followed suit in writing yours also in ink.

Saffron Walden Parish Church

The service was again pleasant – back again to S.W. Parish Church to hear our Chaplain again (5).  A Corporal in ‘A’ Coy. played the organ (Corp. Page*, an O.T.C. chap. I wonder if he is any relation to the fishmongers?) & Charlie Harrison’s brother* was in the choir, in white surplis, together with half a dozen other Terriers.  We had a bostin band to take us & escort us back again.

I shall very likely go to Church with Eddie Hateley* tonight as he said he wouldn’t mind – in fact he asked me if I was going as per usual, he had not paraded this morning.  He too has got neuritis? (can’t spell it properly) – through eating 12 oranges, a doctor friend of his told him.

Well I can’t squeeze any more at present. Alas! we liked the cake so much that we’ve eaten it all & saved none for Sunday’s tea. I always cherish cake for tea on Sunday’s especially.

Love from both,


(1) Either the Te Deum or Benedicite in Book of Common Prayer. The longest  Psalm’ in the Psalter is 119 but that is set for the 26th Day of the Month, not the 13th. (2) Miss Hildagard Bore was engaged to Bertie’s eldest brother Harold. (3) Bertie jokes to allay family’s fear of Zeppelin bombs, especially after raid on Whitby, 16th Dec. 1914.  Zeppelins were rigid airships, named after Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin. See  BBC News Aug. 4th 2014: http://www.bbc.co.uk/uk England-27517166. (4) Chaplain (info pending).

NEXT POST: Christmas Eve, 24th Dec. 1914. A Present for Dad.