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Forum Home > Tale's from the region. > Zeppelin Raids. 1916/17.

Alaska.
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Posts: 1404


Pictured below, is the man who was responsible for the machines, that caused panic to the countries population. Not that he himself ever dropped any bombs, he just provided the means.




Now you could be forgiven, for believing that the famous " Blackout ", was instigated in the last War. You would of course be wrong, following the early raids on London and it's Docks,the Government ordered that no lights should be shown after a warning had been received. Strange to relate, these measures really worked. The only problem being, that sometimes, no warnings were sent out, as strong winds affected the routes of the Zeppelins. The early Raiders also had to fly low, but at the end of 1916, they had learned a lesson, and adapted the machines to fly much higher. So high in fact, that they could not be heard from the ground. On the 31st January, 1916, raids were planned for Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, and the Midlands. Warned of the presence of Zeppelins futher north, the Towns of the Midlands, turned off the lights. I don't suppose the raiders appreciated this, navigation was difficult enough, and a consequence was, that L21 completely missed Wolverhampton. After flying south for a short while, L21 then turned east, passed over the blacked out Dudley, but spotted lights at Tipton.  The time was about 8pm. At least 15 were killed in and around Owen Street, and many more injured. Next stop, after flying over darkened Bilston, and another turn to the east, bought them over Wednesbury, and more death and destruction rained down. A Theatre was hit, killing at least 10, as panic ensued. Next on the list was Walsall, and many houses were damaged or destroyed. Casualties were not reported in these raids, wouldn't do to upset the inhabitants to much, would it. L21 then once more turned towards the east, and went off home, the whole raid having taken just under 30 minutes. Just over 3 hours later, another Zeppelin, L19, again undetected due to it's high altitude, appeared on the scene. L19s target was Birmingham, but the warning had been heeded, and the crew were having difficulties finding the target. Flying much further South, than L21, they spotted the River Severn, and turned East between Bewdley and Kidderminster. Birmingham's blackout was very effective, and dropping down, the Zeppelin was seen to turn North, at Barnt Green. The population of Halesowen and Cradley were awoken to the sound of it's engines, but must have been eternaly grateful, when after circling the Town, it headed off towards Dudley. The foundry and blast furnace at Grazebrooks, Netherton, must have lit up the area like a beacon, for no less than 16 bombs were dropped on it. Thankfully, they all missed, only dislodging a few railway waggons, and making holes in the nearby fields. It then headed off to Walsall, dropping a few more, and following the same flight path as L21, headed off home. Not so lucky as it raiding partner, it began to suffer engine trouble. It's speed was greatly reduced, and it limped over the coast and out across the North Sea. L19 now only had 1 of it's 4 engines in working order, and it was fired on by the Dutch, which caused loss of Hydrogen, and it sank into the sea. The last raid on the area, was in October 1917, possibly by L14, when a series of bombs were dropped on Halesowen. They were aiming at the Hayward Forge, which was lit up like a christmas tree, but only succeeded in narrowly missing Fir Tree Farm, on Mucklow Hill, with a dud, and putting one into the fairway of the Leasowes Golf Club. This created a new Bunker which became part of the course. In total then, so far as the records show, 59 people were killed, and over 101 injured in these raids, the effect being more of an annoyance, than actually damage to Industry. It does though, have a side story.


When L19 hit the drink, it stayed afloat, and the crew of 15 retreated to an upper level, and awaited rescue. They had seen a ship in the area, and indeed the Lowestoft trawler " King Stephen ",  had witnessed the Zeppelins plight. The Captain however, point blank refused to pick them up, and left Kapitan Leutnant Loewe, and his crew to their fate. He did not even report their position to the Royal Navy. Kapitan Loewe, knowing what their fate would be, threw several bottles, with messages in. into the North Sea. Six months later, one of these reached the German Naval Commander. On the 28th April, 1916, The King Stephen was peacefully fishing, when unnoticed, a German Torpedo Boat, G41, hove alongside, and took them all prisoner. They had obviously been watching the Trawler. Despite all the Captains protestations of innocence, his crew gave him away, and they spent the rest of the war behind barbed wire. They were lucky that they weren't all shot. Now I don't know about you, but the rule at Sea is clear, you don't leave stranded men to die, unless it endangers your own vessel. A clear case here, of a bit of rough justice.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

June 20, 2011 at 4:57 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Unicorn
Member
Posts: 46

Fairs fair they would not have liked it if their trawler had been in trouble and the germans had left them to their own fate would they.

June 21, 2011 at 10:34 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Wednesbury, Zeppelins.


The bombs dropped by the Zeppelin in Wednesbury, caused extensive damage around the town center, as well as the theatre deaths. King Street, the old Bilston Road, Trouse Lane, High Street, and Dudley Street, all had windows blown out in the blasts. The towns Cinema's and Pubs were emptied, as the inhabitants made their way home from the damaged area. By way of compensation for a disturbed nights drinking, most of them did not go home empty handed. Taking advantage of the smashed and broken shop windows, they helped themselves to what ever they could carry. Looters, hundreds of them, well there were, until the Police arrived in some numbers and began arresting a few. Not a nice thing to report really, but a sign of just what lies below the surface of most societies. And I should add, rather a topical subject, even if it was 95 years ago.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

August 31, 2011 at 11:28 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Walsall, Zeppelins, Eliza Slater.


I have been asked a few times now, about the story of the Mayor of Walsall being killed in the above raids. No it wasn't. The Mayor of Walsall, in 1916, was Daniel Slater, and it was his wife Eliza, ( Elizabeth ) who was badly injured by shrapnal from one of the bombs. They had been married in 1895, her maiden name being Guest. She later died from from blood poisoning. There is a plaque on a wall, not far from the scene, and some of the bomb damage can still be seen. ( see Walsall History website ) There is also a picture of another Plaque, in the Images from the Forums Gallery, this time made in Netherton, giving details of a very close shave.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

February 26, 2012 at 4:07 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Further to the bombs that fell on Wednesbury, in January,1916, the one in Kings Street, certainly did a bit of damage. The noise of the explosions, had bought a few people out into the street, to see what all the fuss was about. Mary Smith would have mixed feelings about being a bit curious. She had no sooner joined her neighbour in the middle of the road, when a bomb fell slap bang on the top of her house. Inside, was her husband, Frederick Smith, and their three children, Doris, 13, Edith, 11, and Stanley, 7. The flimsy house collapsed, like a pack of cards. Despite many hours of furious digging, non of them were got out alive. As I said, mixed feelings. Over in Union Street, Tipton, a similat scene was being enacted, except this time, one man got out. Thomas Morris, apart from a few bruises and scratches, could only stand and watch, as first his mother-in-law, his wife, his father-in-law, and finally his two children were stretchered away dead. According to the newspapers of the time, another little tragedy was taking place on the grass covered banks of the Grand Union Canal at Bradley. A courting couple, apparently oblivious to the cold night air, were cuddled up, no doubt whispering sweet nothings in each others ears. Whatever they may have had in their minds, in was cut short by an amost direct hit from a bomb. It's not recorded if they died instantly, so in the end, they may very well have truly felt the earth move. At least they didn't suffer the indignity of the woman in Great Yarmouth, the scene of the first Zepplin Raid on the UK. She was, one minute, sitting on the toilet, the next, she was sitting in the roadway, still on the toilet, but for her, the strain of life was finally over.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

April 7, 2013 at 3:48 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Now to the uninitiated, one Zepplin looks very much the same as the next one that comes along. Not so, for one type, which was used to bomb this country was classed as an Airship, because it wasn't actually made by Mr Zepplin. Made by the firm of Schutte-Lanz, were a number of airships, that had a framework constructed  almost entirely of wood. They were designated the S L series, and S L 11 was destined to be the most famous. On the 20th April this year, Arther Cumper, aged 104, sadly passed away, just another old man you might think, but Arther was the last living witness to a famous event, The shooting down of the first Airship in the British Isles.


On the night of the 3rd September, 1916, under the command of Hauptmann, William Schramm, the airship, with it's crew of 15, were dropping bombs around Saint Albans. They didn't do this unopposed, Artillery was directed at them, and the Royal Flying Corps Home Defence Squadrons were on their tails. Lt William Leefe Robinson, formally of the 5th ( Militia ) Worcestershire Regiment, had been hunting for them, for almost two hours in his flimsy litlle BE 12a, ( BE 2c airframe ) armed with nothing more than a Lewis Gun. One intended target had already escaped, seeking safety well above his aircrafts ceiling hight of 12,000 feet, and when he spotted another, he gritted his teeth and went after it. He was in double danger when he did, for not only was the airship heavily armed, shells from the ground were hurtling up and exploding all around him, and he was dazzled by the searchlights. Arthur Cumper, down on the ground, watched the ensuing fight with a growing sense of excitement, as the valiant pilot attacked the giant airship from the side. ( She was 571 feet Long, and dwarfed the little bi-plane. ) Flying along the length of the airship, he expended the first of his three incendiary ammunition magazines without any result. This was no mean feat, as the Lewis gun was mounted on top of the wing, and fired over the propellers arc, for which he had to both stand up, and steer the plane at the same time. He then turned around and attacked from the other side, well aware that his stringbag of an aircraft was being hit by enemy fire. Still no result, and he had now used the second magazine. Arthur, now jumping up and down with excitement at all this action unfolding above him, next saw the little plane turn again, and this time attack from the rear. Robinson poured the entire last magazine into the stern of the monster, and then pulled away, there being nothing else he could do. For a few minutes, nothing happened, but from the ground, a pink glow could be seen at the stern, which rapidly grew into a fireball, and then an explosion. The glow in the sky outshone the searchlights, as the wreakage, complete with it's doomed crew, fell to earth. Robinson, now low on fuel, had time to fire off a parachute flare, and then headed off for his base, by no means sure he could find it in the dark. The airship crashed down behind the Plough Inn, Cuffley, Hertfordshire, there were no survivors, and the Captain and crew were buried in Potters Bar. In 1962, they were re-interred, at the German War Cemetery, Cannock Chase, which was only right and proper, for it must have taken a great deal of courage to take to the skies in a gas filled floating bomb. Arthur Cumper went on to have a varied life, during the next war, working in the Aircraft Industry, although not on airships.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

May 6, 2013 at 3:20 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Now, from the memories of Mr Norman Allport, a native of Netherton, comes a tale of what could be described as, tremedous courage, or the worst bit of stupidity you are ever likely to hear. If you have read the posts on the topic, you will see that the Ironworks of M.K. Grazebrooks, were a target for the attention of Zepplin Bombs, on Monday 16th January, 1916. Despite presenting a tempting target, all the 16 bombs dropped missed the mark, but did blow up a couple of railway waggons, and made a few holes in the fields at  the back of the works. These belonged to Hall Lane Farm, and the next morning, the farmer contacted William Allport, a haulier of Bricks, and his two brothers, Henry and Daniel, who all lived at 9, Hill Street, Netherton, to remove the bombs from his land and take them to Dudley Police Station. William was evidently the brains of the family, for he delegated the job to Henry, who in turn, not being totally daft, asked his yougest brother Daniel to carry out the work. Daniel duly obliged, and one can only guess at the reaction he received, when he turned up at the Police Station with a cart full of unexploded bombs. At least 4 of the 16 dropped had indeed exploded, which means he had 12 on the cart, enough to blow up a good bit of Dudley. Still, he was luckier than the crew of L.19, whose sad story you can also read in this topic. Maybe, having read this, someone should request a posthumous medal for Daniel Allport, without knowing it, he certainly deserve's something for his efforts. A brave men then, Norman Allport's uncle, and once again Norman thanks for letting me use the story.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

May 27, 2013 at 2:58 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Just when you think that most stories of the Zeppelin Raids have been told, up pops another one, this one, some 20 years after the War finished.


In July, 1939, the men of the Worcestershire Highways Department, were busy carrying out some work near the Old Iron Bridge, on the Worcester Road, Kidderminster. The work included driving in some pilons to erect a coffer dam, so that repairs to the bridge structure could be carried out. On inspection of a finished section, an object was spotted, just a few inches away from the iron plates: It was a Bomb. As the War hadn't as yet started, they realised it must have come from the previous dust up with the Germans, and so it proved. The object was about 2 feet long, weighed 50lbs, was fitted with vanes or fins, and to everyones horror, was still "live ". But this, said many folk, was Kidderminster, not exactly a target for any Zeppelins raids, so why have we just found a bomb. The answer wasn't long in coming. On her journey to drop a few surprises on Birmingham, the ill fated L.19, in poor visibilty, had passed over Kidderminster, in 1916, prior to heading for Halesowen, and Dudley. The crew must have spotted either an engineering works, or more likely, the Carpet Factory, and lobbed out a speculative bomb. Thankfully it missed, and fell on soft ground, otherwise Kidderminster would have a few more names on it's War Memorial. That it was dropped from a great height, was apparent from the depth it was found, 13 feet down in the River bank, and 6 feet below the River bed. The old " Aerial Torpedo " as they were called, had come very close, all those years later, to accomplishing the task it was dropped for on 31st January, 1916. If it hadn't been for a clerk, filing the workers report on the matter, the whole episode would have vanished into history. Mind you, a few more inches, and Kidderminster would have certainly made the headlines, not to mention a very large hole in a road.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

May 29, 2014 at 11:23 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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