42 Zeppelin Raids on English Towns Kill 426 and Injure 864
The Germans in 1916 hoped to lay both London and Paris in ashes, and win the War, with the aid of their giant dirigible balloons, known as Zeppelins, but as a war weapon the Zeppelins proved a disappointment, because of the effective air defenses set up by the British and the French. Their chief use was in raiding unprotected towns and striking terror among the civilian populations.
The English finally put a quietus on the Zeppelins by inventing an arrow-gun, tipped with an explosive bullet, that penetrated the balloons and ignited them. To avoid these guns the Zeppelins were forced to fly so high that careful aiming was impossible, the result being that most of the bombs that were released fell in open fields or into the sea.
Out of 53 Zeppelins put into commission since 1914, 35 had been totally destroyed at the close of 1916, five others had been damaged, and only 13 remained in service. Thenceforward the Zeppelins were used chiefly for observation purposes in the North Sea area and for training purposes.
Still the Zeppelins wrought much damage to property, besides taking a large toll in human life, before the means were found to combat them successfully. During the year 1916, there were 42 Zeppelin raids in England alone, resulting in the deaths of 426 persons, mostly women and children, and injury to 864 others. Almost as many raids took place in France.
On January 23, 1916, a Zeppelin attacked Kent, killing six men, women and children. On February 6, 1916, two German airplanes dropped bombs on Ramsgate. A series of Zeppelin raids occurred, between March 31, 1916 and April 5, 1916, along the entire Eastern coast of England, the main object of which was to discover the whereabouts of the main British battleship fleet. These raids resulted in 12 deaths and 33 injuries.
A pitched battle between Zeppelins, battle cruisers and submarines on the German side, and destroyers, land batteries, airplanes and seaplanes on the British side, took place on April 26, 1916, near Lowestort. Three British planes were severely damaged in this fight. A squadron of German planes bombed London on June 14, 1916, killing 97 persons and injuring 437, including 120 women and children.
Twenty German planes bombed London on July 7, 1916, killing 37 and injuring 141. Six Zeppelins raided the east coast of England, on August 9, 1916, killing 23. Eight persons were killed and 36 injured in a Zeppelin raid on England, August 25, 1916. Thirteen Zeppelins invaded England, September 2, 1916, but only three reached London, where two persons were killed and 11 injured. One Zeppelin fell like a flaming torch and the crew was burned to death.
Twelve Zeppelins reached the outskirts of London, September 23, 1916, killing 38 and injuring 125. Six airships attacked English coast towns, September 25, 1916, killing 36 and injuring 21. Ten Zeppelins attacked London and the eastern coast, October 1, 1916, but only one death resulted. One Zeppelin caught fire and its crew of 19 were burned alive. Two Zeppelins, while raiding Yorkshire, on November 27, 1916, were brought down and both their crews perished.