London 1917-18: The Bomber Blitz by Ian Castle

By Ian Castle

On a sunny may well afternoon in 1917, the peace of an English beach city used to be shattered whilst a flight of German Gotha bombers seemed without notice. Twenty-three Gothas had got down to assault London during this first bomber raid, yet heavy cloud compelled them to focus on Folkestone and the Shorncliffe military camp as an alternative. It was once the beginning of a brand new section of the battle aimed toward destroying the morale of the British humans. London's defences have been quick overhauled to stand this new chance, supplying the foundation for Britain's defence in the course of global warfare II. This publication tells the tale of the Gotha and the big Staaken 'Giant' bomber raids opposed to London.

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He asked for the construction of a new ring of gun stations 25 miles (40km) out from the centre of London, able to put up a barrage of shells to break up the attacking formations before they reached the capital, making them less formidable targets for the RFC to pick off. The scheme required 110 guns covering the north, east and south approaches to the city, but again the request failed. With no new guns available Simon implemented his plan as best he could with ten guns transferred to the eastern approaches from other London stations and a further 24 withdrawn from other duties and redeployed for the defence of London.

Another journalist takes up the story, ‘… for five minutes the noise was deafening. Shells bursting in the air left puffs of black smoke, which expanded and drifted into one another. It seemed impossible that the raiders could escape being hit. ’ With the increase in gunfire the Gotha formations opened out and began evasive tactics. The first bomb fell on Chingford, followed by a handful more falling in Tottenham and Edmonton inflicting limited damage to property. Then, in Stoke Newington – the scene of the first London Zeppelin raid – the human tragedies began.

52pm over Oxford Circus in central London and dropped a 50kg bomb, causing serious damage to Bourne and Hollingsworth’s store on East Castle Street. Its next bomb fell in Agar Street, off the Strand, outside the main entrance to the Charing Cross Hospital. A man, H. Stockman, was about to take shelter in a hotel entrance opposite where two others already stood. But at that moment, ‘a woman came up with terror written on her face’. Mr Stockman, realizing there was room only for three, indicated to the woman to take the place, for which she thanked him profusely.

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