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Remembered Today:

Seaplane raid on Lowestoft


Guest Bob Collis
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Guest Bob Collis

Hi:

Seeking the identity of two "German seaplanes" which carried out a daylight raid on Lowestoft (Suffolk) on Sunday 21st February 1916 at 11.00 am. Seventeen small bombs were dropped with slight damage and no casualties. Local press reports hint with implied outrage as to how the two aircraft managed to escape apparently unscathed and unchallenged by any defences.

I have a copy of Raymond Rimell's Air War Over Gt Britain 1914-1918 which seems to indicate the unit was SFA 1 from Zeebrugge ?

Any assistance much appreciated. TIA for any input your readers may have.

Bob Collis

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Bob,

The day of the raid, a Sunday, was the 20th February, not the 21st.

There were three enemy aircraft involved, two Friedrichshafen FF 33es and a Hansa Brandenburg NW, all were from SFA 1.

Two machines were involved in a "hit & run" on Lowestoft and one machine (a Friedrichshafen) attacked Walmer deopping 6 bombs causing a single fatality and then it attacked shipping south of the Kentish Knock. The two machines that attacked lowestoft dropped 19 bombs at 10.55 from a height of 5000 to 6000 feet.

Local press might well be outraged, but I bet they didn't offer any suggestions how to intercept the raiders!

The first indication of the raid was an intercepted W/T transmission at 10.30 but the bombs were falling at Lowestoft before the significance was recognised. There was no warning of the raid at Walmer. Both the RNAS and the RFC launched a significant number of aircraft but both services were far too late to catch the escaping intruders.

Source: "The Air Defence Of Britain 1914-18" by Cole and Cheesman. The reference on home defence in WW1.

Mike

Edited by MikeW
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Hello,

It was indeed on sunday 20/2/1916 that seaplanes of Seeflugstation Zeebrugge bombed Lowestoft and Walmer

German official documents states that 20 bombs were dropped on Lowestoft, with 2 direct hits in the harbour, 2 direct hits on the railway station and one on the gasometer.

The planes were heavily shot at, and chased by British planes, but with no result.

Near Deal, a coaster was sunk.

Regars,

Cnock

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Guest Bob Collis
Hello,

It was indeed on sunday 20/2/1916 that seaplanes of Seeflugstation Zeebrugge bombed Lowestoft and Walmer

German official documents states that 20 bombs were dropped on Lowestoft, with 2 direct hits in the harbour, 2 direct hits on the railway station and one on the gasometer.

The planes were heavily shot at, and chased by British planes, but with no result.

Near Deal, a coaster was sunk.

Regars,

Cnock

MikeW and Cnock:

Many thanks for the excellent and fully comprehensive gen on this raid. This is a bit of a new tack for me as I usually research WW 2 air-war events in this region, but I had a pretty good idea that there were gen men who would have the answers reading this thread.

Can you tell me what type of "small bombs" (presumably HE) were used by these aircraft ?

Thanks again for the rapid and very helpful response.

Bob Collis

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Hello Bob,

I don't know exactly what type of bomb was dropped, but the German Airforce used at that time mostly the 'Carbonit' HE bombs ( made by Firm 'Sprengstoff A.G. CARBONIT')

These bombs of 4,5 kg, 10 kg and 20 kg, were dropped by hand, after a safety pin was torn off.

Or they were retained in cannisters and the safety pin was attached to a cable.

The bomb had a small propeller and was armed by the turnings of this propeller when falling down.

During the 'Gotha raids' on Great-Britain, a newer type of bomb 'P.u.W.' was used.

Regards,

Cnock

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Guest Bob Collis
Hello Bob,

I don't know exactly what type of bomb was dropped, but the German Airforce used at that time mostly the 'Carbonit' HE bombs ( made by Firm 'Sprengstoff A.G. CARBONIT')

These bombs of 4,5 kg, 10 kg and 20 kg, were dropped by hand, after a safety pin was torn off.

Or they were retained in cannisters and the safety pin was attached to a cable.

The bomb had a small propeller and was armed by the turnings of this propeller when falling down.

During the 'Gotha raids' on Great-Britain, a newer type of bomb 'P.u.W.' was used.

Regards,

Cnock

Hi Cnock:

Thanks for that. I have seen a number of pictures of partly burnt IBs (Incendiary Bombs) dropped by German airships in this region, plus pieces of HE bombs from them, but I have never seen any detailed listing of the various German bombs used over the UK 1914-18.

Lowestoft must have been one of the few places in the UK to suffer all three forms of enemy attackin WW 1: raids by aircraft (that mentioned in my original posting) on 20 February 1916; two raids by Zeppelins on 16 April and 9 August 1915; and finally the bombardment by the High Seas Fleet on 26 April 1916.

It took an even harder bashing from the Germans in 1939-45, but that, as they say, is another story...

Thanks for your input.

Regards,

BC

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It was indeed on sunday 20/2/1916 that seaplanes of Seeflugstation Zeebrugge bombed Lowestoft and Walmer

German official documents states that 20 bombs were dropped on Lowestoft, with 2 direct hits in the harbour, 2 direct hits on the railway station and one on the gasometer.

The planes were heavily shot at, and chased by British planes, but with no result.

Near Deal, a coaster was sunk.

There's nothing in either British Vessels Lost at Sea or Lloyd's War Losses: The First World War about a ship being sunk as a result of this raid. BVLAS does note that the 1680 grt steamer Glenfoyle was attacked by aircraft on this date, with the bombs missing.

Best wishes,

Michael

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Hello Michel,

You have it right.

Germans thought they sunk the vessel;

Regards,

Cnock

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Hi Cnock:

Thanks for that. I have seen a number of pictures of partly burnt IBs (Incendiary Bombs) dropped by German airships in this region, plus pieces of HE bombs from them, but I have never seen any detailed listing of the various German bombs used over the UK 1914-18.

Lowestoft must have been one of the few places in the UK to suffer all three forms of enemy attackin WW 1: raids by aircraft (that mentioned in my original posting) on 20 February 1916; two raids by Zeppelins on 16 April and 9 August 1915; and finally the bombardment by the High Seas Fleet on 26 April 1916.

It took an even harder bashing from the Germans in 1939-45, but that, as they say, is another story...

Thanks for your input.

Regards,

BC

Hi Bob

I have a great interest in Lowestoft what with my Mrs being from there - I would be interested to learn about the Zeppelin raids

All The Best

Chris

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Guest Bob Collis
Hi Bob

I have a great interest in Lowestoft what with my Mrs being from there - I would be interested to learn about the Zeppelin raids

All The Best

Chris

Hello Chris:

I must admit to not knowing that much about the WW 1 attacks on Lowestoft until the last couple of years, my principle area of research having been (up until recently) WW 2 aircraft crashes in East Anglia.

The first Zeppelin raid was carried out by the L5 at about 0100 hours on 16 April 1915. Apparently 6 x 50 kg HE bombs and 40 Incendiary Bombs were dropped. A serious fire started at Latten's Timber Yard, and many houses were damaged by bombs in Denmark Road and Kimberley Road.

The second raid was at about 2200 hours on 9 August 1915, when 12 x 50 kg HE bombs were dropped on South Lowestoft by L11. Houses were damaged and a girl was killed, but I have no detailed information on this attack as yet.

Hope this helps.

Regards,

BC

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Bob

thanks for the info

Chris

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