The Enemy Above: British Reactions to German Zeppelin Raids in the Great War by Frank A Blazich Jr. In Stand To! No. 86 August/September 2009 pp 6 - 10

‘It is Far Better to Face Bullets,’ poster from 1915. Source: Fairchild Memorial Gallery, Lauinger Library, Georgetown University


On 6 April 2008, The Sunday Times in London reported that Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik, the present-day German manufacturer of the famed airships, received permission by the British Civil Aviation Authority for tourist flights over

London. (1) The last time Zeppelins cruised over London, bombs, not tourists, occupied these airships. At the turn of the twentieth century, Zeppelins embodied a triumph of technology, a combination of elegance and grace floating effortlessly in mockery of gravity. During the Great War, however, these serene images were replaced by those of bombing, terror, and death.

The war forced the British to confront a great ambivalence about Zeppelins, a clash between a technological marvel and an immoral killing Machine.

In 1910, British aviation writer R P Hearne theorised that ‘airships will…render warfare more localised in its destruction (that is to say, more humane),’ and ‘by the discharge of aerial projectiles the destruction will be more closely restricted to the combatants, and there will be far less of that cruel slaughter of noncombatants...’( 2)

By 1916, Archibald Hurd declared that, although ‘the Zeppelins possibly were built in the belief that they would prove of value as weapons of military precision… [they] in fact, became like the submarine, not a legitimate engine of war, but an instrument of outrage and murder.’(3) Between these two writings, Zeppelins had become more than mere technological curiosities, but also shadowy killers of innocent English citizens, raining fire and destruction from high in the night skies.

Nevertheless, British ambivalence toward military technology was rooted in older ambivalence related to the relationship between technology, civilisation, and honour in Britain’s post-industrial colonial history.

Germany’s giant

The Zeppelin’s emergence in Europe coincided with increased industrialisation and technological innovation. German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, his invention’s namesake, envisioned his airship for military and commercial purposes a decade before he actually built one.(4) Finally, on 2 July 1900, on the banks of Lake Constance in Germany, Count Zeppelin’s creation, known as LZ 1, took flight for twenty minutes.(5) Enthusiasm and national support did not emerge for Zeppelin’s creation until 1908, however, when LZ 4 was observed by thousands of Germans on a long distance test flight, and a Zeppelin craze took hold of Germany.(6) The Zeppelin countered previous images of mass-produced technology by effortlessly gliding through the air, glimmering in silver with smooth, symmetrical lines, and most importantly the airborne giant was Germany’s.

Zeppelins, and the technology and innovation in them, represented Germany’s advances to the world. ‘The industrialisation of European cities…while reflecting control of the nation state, also acquired a popular dimension, whereby the masses assimilated certain human constructions…as symbols of their communities…in Germany, the Zeppelin became the icon of choice,’ writes historian Guillaume de Syon.(7) ‘To the German people the Zeppelin was one of the wonders of the world’, notes H G Castle.(8) The British, however, lagged behind in airship construction and development.

‘The English Government holds the erroneous view that they can start building successful airships at any time,’ stated R P Hearn in 1910, and noted that British military authorities considered airships a failure. (9)

Militarily, Zeppelins gave the German people a weapon capable of circumventing the power of the British Royal Navy to strike at the heart of the enemy. (10) Although the Imperial German High Seas Fleet considered themselves on a par with the Royal , in German opinion British actions consistently treated them as inferiors.(11) Zeppelins gave the Germans a new capability, and could serve as aerial scouting cruisers.(12)

Unlike the High Seas Fleet, Zeppelins could fly over any British naval blockade and overcome British geographic isolation from the war in Europe.(13) A strategic raid on London could disrupt the war efforts and potentially weaken British morale. British fears of these German aerial giants, dubbed ‘zeppelinitis’, placed the honour of Great Britain in the balance.(14)

The British military response to Zeppelins, or notably new technologies, echoed similar attitudes towards the machine gun. This response was rooted in ambivalence about technology as an icon of British superiority over colonised peoples in the late nineteenth century. Advances in small arms and the development of a reliable machine gun gave European colonialists unprecedented military advantages. Daniel Headrick observes that by the 1890s, ‘any European infantryman could now fire lying down, undetected, in any weather, fifteen rounds of ammunition in as many seconds at targets up to half a mile away.’(15) Maxim machine guns mowed down tens of thousands of African warriors as fast as the lone British soldier could load and shoot. British colonial ambivalence for technology is expressed in reaction to the Battle of Omdurman, a victory credited to the generalship of Horatio Kitchener, British spirit, courage, and white superiority.(16)

The British military, however, did not grasp the military value of the machine gun. The guns associated with colonial expeditions and the killing of natives, making them ‘inappropriate to the conditions of regular European warfare,’ and ‘one couldn’t demonstrate the manifest superiority of the British race by admitting that it was a mere piece of hardware that had swung the balance.’(17) British officers conceived of war fought hand-to-hand, rifleman to rifleman, where heroism and resolute willpower would carry the superior side to victory.(18)

Zeppelins trumped the English Channel, as England became the first country in history to endure aerial bombardment.(19) The unknowns of aerial bombardment and  Zeppelin effectiveness were still unresolved when the war began, in spite of popular investment in their military importance. German Imperial Navy Deputy Chief of Naval Staff Konteradmiral Paul Behncke wrote in October 1914 that ‘we dare not leave untried any means of forcing England to her knees, and successful air attacks on London, considering the well-known nervousness of the public, will be a valuable measure.’(20)

British defences and deterrents to Zeppelin incursions consisted of little to nothing from 1914 to 1915. When the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) was founded in May 1912, no British gun existed capable of hitting a Zeppelin flying at 10,000 feet or higher.(21) By 1914, neither a gun around London nor any British aircraft could attack the nighttime invaders.(22) During the first bombing raid on London on 31 May 1915, Zeppelins were confronted with a total of twelve anti-aircraft guns and twelve searchlights.(23)

Although changes to British Zeppelin defence began to take effect in September 1915, almost an entire year would pass before a lone British aircraft shot down SL 11 over Cuffley, England on 3 September 1916.(24) Anger and astonishment The machine gun and the Zeppelin both shared the ability to transcend the human operators. The long, fat, silver, cigar shaped profile of a Zeppelin floating effortlessly in the sky gave it the appearance of being ‘more organic than inorganic’ in the contemporary words of Ariela Freedman.(25) The night attacks by Zeppelins from 1915 to 1916 were witnessed by thousands of British citizens who often recorded their impressions. One particular raid on London by Zeppelin L 13 on 8-9 September 1915 angered and astonished Londoners, who ‘in their thousands had watched L 13 in a clear, starlit sky. She was so low, some said, that details of the Zeppelin could be picked out.’(26)

‘The Zeppelin Raids: The Vow of Vengeance,’ by Frank Brangwyn. Source: Rare Book Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Contrary to logic and common sense, people eagerly watched Zeppelin raids as if they were a sort of celebration. Author Vera Brittain described in her diary the quixotic mood in December 1914: ‘it was just dark, and all the streets were dim, as London ever since the war began had been lighted as faintly as possible, for fear of Zeppelin raids. It was thrilling, intoxicating, to walk down dark Regent Street amid the hurrying crowd.’(27) In a later entry Brittain commented how she ‘hoped a raid would come while I was there [London], as I have always since the war began been anxious to see a Zeppelin, and I knew I should not be afraid…’(28) An entry from 10 September 1915 relays the story of a patient from the Fourth London General Hospital where Brittain worked as a nurse:

‘...all the patients sat in their windows watching one of the Zeppelins, which looked like a great silver cigar in a luminous cloud, which was the smoke of the shrapnel from our anti-aircraft guns bursting beneath it…the streets were full of excited semi-dressed people whom a policeman was vainly trying to keep quiet. The hospital was in a turmoil all night from the patients afflicted with nerves.’ (29)

‘Zepp nighties’

With war now directly touching the home front, the desire to confront and witness the enemy, albeit at a vast distance, was common. ‘Zeppelin attack on London occurred in the night. Mamma came up and told me. I was horrified at the idea of having slept through it,’ wrote Lady Cynthia Asquith in her diary on 1 June 1915.(30) When a raid finally did occur and the word was muttered, citizens ‘rushed out and found people in dramatic groups, gazing skywards. Some men there said they saw the Zeppelin, Alas, I didn’t! But our guns were popping away and shells bursting in the air. I felt pleasurably, but not the faintest tremor and I longed and longed for more to happen,’ lamented Asquith.(31)

In an extremely grandiose description, Holcombe Ingleby, the wife of a Member of Parliament, described an August 1915 raid on London in a letter to her son stationed in Cairo with terrific visualisations:

‘It was a most thrilling and wonderful sight. I was dead tired but hardly had I got to bed when I was roused by the sound of an aircraft and the rushing of motors a few minutes after so I turned out of bed and looking up saw just above us 2 Zepps. The search lights were on them and they looked as if they were among the stars. They were up very high and like cigar shaped constellations... .The wonderful part of it was that no one seemed frightened ... there were ... a great many people in the streets.(32)

Professor Ariela Freedman of Concordia University observes that Zeppelin raids ‘provided occasion for aesthetic exhilaration and distraction from what was often a monotonous home front existence…it appears as a relief from boredom.’(33) For Ingleby, the searchlights, ‘cigar shaped constellations,’ and noise of the guns seemed surreal to her, but apparently routine evening activity for others. ‘Civilians became habituated to raids…London stores advertised all sorts of accessories for “Zeppelin parties,” and one is supposed to have offered a special line of “Zepp nighties,”’ reflects political scientist Harold D Lasswell.(34) Others tried to grasp the Zeppelin appeal. Historian Guillaume de Syon comments that ‘although people were generally frightened by airship raids, many witnesses admitted to being strangely attracted by the sheer display of  power, leaning out of their windows to see better instead of running down to the basement.’(35) The British Air Ministry itself admitted that ‘seen from below, the airship gave an impression of absolute calm and absence of hurry.’(36) These reactions to the Zeppelin raids allowed for civilian participation in the Great War and the British national war effort through this German technology.

The lack of effect of British defences against Zeppelin raids in 1915 was noticeable. No public or private air raid shelters existed.(37) A raid on 31 May 1915 by LZ 38 bombed London’s East End, killing seven people and provoking violent attacks on the store fronts and people of German and Austrian heritage.(38) Another raid on 6-7 June 1915 over Hull by L 9 killed twenty-four people and inflicted an estimated Åí44,795 in damages. In Hull, it was reported that ‘there was pandemonium and some panic,’ and the overall reaction of the city’s citizens was ‘indignation.’ Fury was once more directed at shops of German owners.(39) After this attack, the city was ‘emptied nightly of its poor, who, after two more scares, refused to stay in the defenceless town and sought refuge in fields as far away as possible.’(40)

‘Citizens would often flock to view the damage caused by the raids, for some out of curiosity, for others to vent anger. A second raid on a still defenceless Hull from 5 – 6 March 1916, provoked the ‘helpless population, in ugly mood,’ to relieve its feelings by stoning a Royal Flying Corps vehicle in Hull and a flying office was mobbed in nearby Beverly.’(41)

The anger, panic, loss of morale, and chaos played into Germany’s strategic use of Zeppelins. Civilians were now caught on the front line of the war and able to understand how war was not glorious when you could not fight back.(42) While the British censored reports of all Zeppelin raids and publicly undermined the raid’s effectiveness, a top-secret report to the Admiralty bluntly noted that the British needed to do something and fast.(43) The British people demanded that the Government act and after the raid by L 13 in September 1915, action was indeed taken.(44)

Mere days after L.13 roamed freely above London, the Admiralty finally took action to establish a proper air defence. Admiral Sir Percy Scott was recalled from retirement to command London’s air defences. In Scott’s opinion, ‘the defence of London by aircraft begins over the Zeppelin sheds and the defence by gunfire begins at the coast.’(45) Scott requested additional anti-aircraft guns and searchlights, and a French 75mm mobile cannon, effective to an altitude of 21,000 feet, to be copied in England.(46) Scott’s plan for interceptor aircraft differed from Paris’s gun-only air defence. The aircraft and anti-aircraft guns would force the Zeppelins to make defensive manoeuvres, thus minimising bombing effectiveness and reducing bomb loads in favour of countermeasures.(47)

Anti–Zeppelin weapons

British inventors had been working to develop a means to destroy the Zeppelins. Although filled with highly flammable hydrogen gas, anti-aircraft shells and even simple machine gun bullets failed to ignite the gas. Holes punctured in the gas cells would cause the Zeppelins to lose altitude and force their retreat, but did not guarantee destruction. In early 1916, Commander R N Ranken developed an explosive aerial dart for a pilot to drop onto a Zeppelin. Unfortunately, British aircraft rarely could climb high enough for pilots to use the dart.(48) ‘Apart from the difficulties of effective aim from above, these missiles were no less dangerous to the population than the Zeppelin bombs themselves,’ in the opinion of Joseph Morris.(49)

The idea for an explosive bullet originally began in 1914. A design by Australian John Pomeroy was rejected by the War Office, but in 1915 the idea was reconsidered with two additional developments: a phosphorous bullet created by J F Buckingham, and an explosive bullet designed by Royal Navy Commander F A Brock. Together, the three bullets were combined to create the Brock-Pomeroy- Buckingham machine gun ammunition load to tear through the Zeppelin’s skin and ignite the explosive hydrogen inside.(50) Consensus opinion in the War Office agreed that ‘victory against the Zeppelins would be won only by destroying them in the air,’ with a daring and gallant British aerial knight slaying the monstrous Teutonic dragon.(51)

Armed with the new secret Zeppelin weapon, all Britain needed was for the Zeppelins to show themselves. On the night of 2 – 3 September 1916, a total of sixteen Zeppelins set out to bomb England, the largest combined Zeppelin attack of the war.(52) One of the airships involved, SL 11, was discovered by Second Lieutenant William Leefe Robinson amidst the searchlights and gunfire below. The nineteen year old Robinson, in a report to his squadron commander, detailed his attack:

‘I flew along about 800 feet below it from bow to stern and distributed one drum along it (alternate New Brock and Pomeroy). It seemed to have no effect... . I then got behind it (by time I was very close – 500 feet or less below) and concentrated one drum on  one part (underneath rear). I was then at a height of 11,500 feet when attacking the Zeppelin. I had hardly finished the drum before I saw the part fired at glow. In a few seconds the whole rear part was blazing.(53)

The airship crashed in Cuffley, Hertfordshire, eighteen miles from the centre of London. All day on Sunday, 3 September 1916, over 60,000 people visited the smouldering wreckage.(54) Robinson’s victory over SL 11, utilising new British technology to destroy the German was witnessed by thousands and thousands of people, subsequently resulting in numerous accounts of Robinson’s glory.

Overnight Hero

Overnight, Great Britain had a new hero. King George V summoned Robinson to Windsor Castle on 6 September 1916 and awarded him the Victoria Cross.(55) Eric Wood wrote how ‘like a flaming dragon,’ SL 11’s loss was ‘indeed a dramatic one, for this was the first aerial monster to be brought down in England, and the hundreds thousands of people who witnessed the thrilling deed were fired with a righteous emotion born of their knowledge that the victim was engaged upon a dastardly attempt to murder their loved ones.’(56) Nine-year old H G Castle witnessed SL 11’s final moments and ventured to Cuffley to view the wreckage. Castle recalled the reaction to the shooting down:

‘The spontaneous barrage of cheering and shouting made the roar of a hundred thousand people at a pre-war cup final sound like an undertone. People danced, kissed,  hugged, and sang. The hysteria and the abandoned emotions were not confined to one neighbourhood ... The crowd reaction everywhere was described as being greater than that which celebrated the relief of Mafeking in 1900. Mafeking did not significantly affect the South African War. The destruction of SL 11 proved to be of  strategic importance.(57)

The linking of a shot down Boer War sixteen year earlier harks back to the first use of machine guns in Africa. The Zeppelin was destroyed thanks to British technological advances, much like the Sudanese who fell before the new Maxim guns at the Battle of Omdurman. Zeppelins kept Britain under siege, albeit more mentally than anything else, but the English resolution to triumph over adversity prevailed. Unlike colonial wars against uncivilised peoples in the Dark Continent, the British fought white Germans over English soil. This merging of civilised white combatants and European military technology with colonial triumphs in Africa expresses not only jingoism but continued Zeppelin ambivalence.

‘New Zeppelin Raids on Open Towns in England’ by Louis Raemaekers, 1916. Source: Rare Book Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The strategic importance noted by Castle cannot be understated. The shooting down of SL 11 was followed shortly thereafter by the losses of L 31, L 32, and L 33 from 16 September to 1 October 1916. The loss of L 31 and its commander, Kapitanleutnant Heinrich, was a tremendous blow to German efforts, and with Mathy’s death ‘any lingering belief in the strategic power of the Zeppelin’ died with him.(58) The ‘moral effect on the population was immense’ with the Zeppelin losses illuminating the night skies, both for the British people and the German Zeppelin crews who bore witness to the immolation of their comrades.(59) The downfall of the German Zeppelins was also a moral triumph over the ‘Hun’ as noted by Archibald Hurd:

‘They flung to the winds the convention protecting undefended towns, and over a long series of months they have employed great airships … for the promiscuous bombardment … of British seaside resorts and inland towns devoid of military importance. They have thus killed 550 persons, men, women and children, injured 1,005 others and damaged a large number of buildings, but they have in no way affected the power of the British people to engage in war.(60)

The triumph of British honour and morality is, in the minds of many, evident in the words of men like Hurd, Castle, Wood, and even Robinson himself. Robinson referred to the Zeppelins as ‘inhuman murderers.’(61) These slayings of the Teutonic dragons marked the turning point of the Zeppelin raids on England and a triumph of British defensive efforts against German aviation innovation. The British fought honourably against monsters, rather than futuristic and gentle flying machines.

Such an equation of British honour with a struggle against impersonal technology was not quite so easy to draw. In the glorious moment of British pride, however, were a few voices that saw two fighters as one. Noted author George Bernard Shaw, who witnessed the end of L 31 and later visited the wreckage, confessed that ‘after seeing the Zepp fall like a burning newspaper, with its human contents roasting for some minutes…I went to bed and was comfortably asleep in ten minutes. One is so pleased at having seen the show that the destruction of a dozen people or so in hideous terror and torment does not count.’(62) By far one of the most poignant accounts of questioned British morality involves a witness to SL 11’s fiery demise. A young Sybil Morrison, who later went on to be a lifelong pacifist and member of the Peace Pledge Union in Britain, wrote her account and reactions to the horrible event:

‘To me, well to anyone I would think, it was what I would call an awful sight...we knew that there were about sixty people in it – we’d always been told there was a crew of about sixty – and that they were being roasted to death. Of course you weren’t supposed to feel any pity for your enemies, nevertheless I was appalled to see the kind, good-hearted British people dancing about in the streets at the sight of sixty people being burned alive – clapping and singing and cheering. And my own friends – delighted. When I said I was appalled that anyone could be pleased to see such a terrible sight they said “But they’re Germans; they’re the enemy”- not human beings.(63)

The destruction of a Zeppelin did not concern rifleman facing rifleman, but machine against machine, nation versus nation. Shaw and Morrison saw beyond the machine, through the symbolism to gaze upon the true morality of humans killing humans. Germany was the enemy, and they dropped fire upon civilians, killing innocent, peace-loving women and children. For those who witnessed the fiery end of Zeppelins, the fate of the crews could be understood. For the rest of Britain, propaganda would aim to denounce and vilify both the Zeppelins and crews.

The ambivalence to Zeppelins by the British people reflected a long history of placing technology beneath personal honour on the battlefield. Germany’s Zeppelins entered the Great War having already established their place as a German technological achievement. Zeppelins represented civilised technology for a new era. Colonialism highlighted the potential ambivalence towards technology, emphasising personal heroism and national superiority rather than advanced military technology. The British could only watch, helpless and dumbfounded, impotent to the promiscuous killing of women and children by the once civilised, peaceful Zeppelin.

The bombings and killings did not break British morale as the Germans had hoped. Until the British shot one down for the nation to witness, the aura of the Zeppelin would remain. Furthermore, an anti-aircraft gun could potentially accomplish this (and did manage to knock down many a Zeppelin during the course of the war), but the British needed a lone pilot to score a highly public victory. A brave pilot, flying in almost total darkness without any support but the ‘Mark I Eyeball’ to guide him, evoked the spirit of the African big game hunter, the Crusader in the Holy Land, or the knight in single combat.

British reaction to the demise of SL 11 seemed to be almost cathartic. The horrible losses suffered for the British Expeditionary Force during the Battle of the Somme, the loss of the RMS Lusitania, the standoff at the Battle of Jutland, and all the setbacks of the British military were not witnessed directly by the British population. The Zeppelin raiders, in sharp contrast, brought the enemy to the people directly. Unlike colonial battles thousands of miles from England, where native warriors fell before the might and glory of the British Empire, white Europeans managed to hit London without the use of land or naval forces. Aerial

‘The Raider.’ Source: Rare Book Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill



(1) Taher, Abul: ‘Zeppelins to Make Tourist Flights Over London,’ The Sunday Times (London, England), 6 April 2008.

(2) Hearne, R.P.: Airships in Peace and War, Being the Second Edition of Aerial Warfare with Seven New Chapters (New York: John Lane Company, 1910), p. xxxiii.

(3) Hurd, Archibald: Submarines and Zeppelins in Warfare & Outrage (London: Sir Joseph Causton & Sons, Ltd., 1916), p. 3.

(4) de Syon, Guillaume: Zeppelin! Germany and the Airship, 1900-1936 (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2002), p. 16.

(5) de Syon, Zeppelin!, p. 23.

(6) Ibid., pgs. 38-39.

(7) Ibid., p. 4.

(8) Castle, H.G.: Fire Over England: The German Air Raids of World War I (London: Secher & Warburg, 1982), p.18.

(9) Hearne, Airships in Peace and War, p.81.

(10) Robinson, Douglas H.: The Zeppelin in Combat: A History of the German Naval Airship Division, 1912-1918, 3rd ed. (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1980), p. 49.

(11) Gilbert, Martin: The First World War: A Complete History (New York: Henry Holt and Co., LLC, 1994), p. 8.

(12) Robinson, Zeppelin in Combat, p. 34. A Zeppelin, furthermore, could be built in six weeks. A cruiser took two years to construct.

(13) Castle, Fire Over England, p. 39.

(14) Hearne, Airships in Peace and War, pgs. 164-80; de Syon, Zeppelin!, p. 74.

(15) Headrick, Daniel S.: The Tools of Empire: Technology and European Imperialism in the Nineteenth Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981), p. 101.

(16) Ellis, John: Social History of the Machine Gun (Baltimore: John Hopkins  University Press, 1986), p. 87

(17) Ibid., pgs. 57, 18.

(18) Ibid., p. 70

(19) Castle, Fire Over England, p. 1.

(20) Robinson, Zeppelin in Combat, p. 52.

(21) Morris, Joseph: The German Air Raids on Great Britain, 1914-1918 (London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co. Ltd., 1925), p. 4.

(22) Castle, Fire Over England, p. 27.

(23) Crabtree, James D.: On Air Defense (Westport, CT: Praeger Pub., 1994), p. 24.

(24) Castle, Fire Over England, pgs. 86-89

(25) Freedman, Ariela: ‘Zeppelin Fictions and the British Home Front,’ Journal of Modern Literature 27 (Winter 2004): p. 47.

(26) Castle, Fire Over England, p. 85.

(27) Brittain, Vera: Chronicle of Youth: The War Diary, 1913-1917, eds. Alan Bishop and Terry Smart (New York: William Morrow & Co., Inc., 1982), p. 135.

(28) Ibid., p. 247.

(29) Ibid., p. 270. The raid described early by L13, 8 September 1915 is the same raid this patient is referring to.

(30) Asquith, Lady Cynthia: Diaries 1915- 1918, ed. E.M. Horsley (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1969), p. 34.

(31) Ibid., p. 87.

(32) As quoted in Brown, Malcolm: The Imperial War Museum Book of The First World War: A Great Conflict Recalled in Previously Unpublished Letters, Diaries and Memoirs (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1993), p. 222.

(33) Freedman, ‘Zeppelin Fictions,’ p. 52.

(34) Lasswell, Harold D.: Propaganda Technique in the World War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1927), p. 200.

(35) de Syon, Zeppelin!, p. 94.

(36) Robinson, Zeppelin in Combat, p. 108.

(37) Castle, Fire Over England, p. 69.

(38) Ibid., p. 62.

(39) Castle, Fire Over England, pgs. 74-75.

(40) Morris, The German Air Raids, pgs. 39- 40.

(41) Robinson, Zeppelin in Combat, p. 131.

(42) de Syon, Zeppelin!, p. 97. de Syon cites writer Philip Gibbs, who observed how soldiers on leave thought the home front unaware of the suffering going on in the trenches, and yet steeped in myths of glorious warfare. Some trench veterans apparently favored Zeppelin raids as a means to give civilians a taste how mechanised war was different.

(43) Cross, Wilbur: Zeppelins of World War I (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1991), p. 40.

(44) Castle, Fire Over England, p. 85.

(45) Ibid., p. 87.

(46) Ibid., p. 88.

(47) Crabtree, On

(47) Crabtree, On Air Defense, pp.. 26-27.

(48) Pisano, Dominick, Thomas J. Dietz, Joanne Gernstein, and Karl Schneide:Legend, Memory and the Great War in the Air (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1992), p. 112.

(49) Morris, German Air Raids, p. 119.

(50) Castle, Fire Over England, p. 132.

(51) Ibid., p. 97.

(52) Robinson, Zeppelin in Combat, p. 169.

(53) Ibid., p. 172; Castle, Fire Over England, p. 134. Robinson’s account is available widely on the internet in complete form. This is the main portion of his report.

(54) Castle, Fire Over England, p. 137.

(55) Ibid., p. 139.

(56) Wood, Eric: Thrilling Deeds of British Airmen (London: George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd., 1918), 216, 224.

(57) Castle, Fire Over England, p. 136.

(58) Ibid., p. 156.

(59) Morris, German Air Raids, p. 131.

(60) Hurd, Archibald: Submarines and Zeppelins in Warfare and Outrage (London: Sir Joseph Causton & Sons, Ltd., 1916), p. 13. [Emphasis in original].

(61) Wood, Thrilling Deeds, p. 224.

(62) Winter, Jay: Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European Cultural History (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 193.

(63) As quoted in Brown, First World War, p.223.

Frank A Blazich Jr. is a doctoral student in history at The Ohio State University where his research focuses on the North Carolina Civil Defence Agency and its activities from 1950 to 1973. He received a BA in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2004 and earned his Masters in History from North Carolina State University in 2008. Mr Blazich. served in the US Air Force from 2004 to 2006.


Articles on WFA web site

There is a rich set of resources on the WFA web site detailing Zeppelin air raids

The Bombing of London by Ian Castle

The First Air Raid: Great Yarmouth by Bob Wyatt

The End of The Zeppelins (this item first appeared in Stand To! No. 31 in Spring 1991).

Zeppelins over Norfolk by David Tattersfield