Wed, 25 May|
Great War Huts
Hutted Histories: The Midnight Assassin - Zeppelin Visits to the East Coast - David Marks
Historian and Author David Marks tells us how East Anglia found itself at the forefront of the initial onslaught with Zeppelin raids on towns including Bury St Edmunds, Lowestoft, Woodbridge and Dereham.
Time & Location
25 May 2022, 19:30
Great War Huts, Bell's Ln, Bury Saint Edmunds IP29 5NW, UK
About the event
Germany’s aerial bombing campaign against Britain was an unprecedented development in warfare.
From the first Zeppelin raid on Norfolk in January 1915, aerial attacks gradually increased during the year, which culminated in highly damaging raids on London in the autumn. However, London was not the only recipient of German bombs, with counties from Northumberland to Kent also experiencing indiscriminate death and destruction. East Anglia found itself at the forefront of the initial onslaught with raids on towns including Bury St Edmunds, Lowestoft, Woodbridge and Dereham.
Measures such as improved anti-aircraft guns, linked searchlight stations and co-ordinated aircraft squadrons began to challenge the raiders. Behind the scenes, trials of explosive and phosphorus bullets were successfully carried out and, from July 1916, the machine gun drums of defending aircraft were routinely filled with a combination of this ammunition.
The result was extraordinary and in September 1916, an airship was brought down in flames at Cuffley, just to the north of London. The pilot ‘behind the gun’, Lieutenant William Leefe Robinson, was awarded the Victoria Cross. This was followed by the loss of three of the newest “super” Zeppelins over the following month.
The civilian population had found itself on the front line for the first time and the public’s anger, frustration and demands for retaliation against the raids was tempered by a remarkable resilience. This was expressed with humour, through the medium of the picture postcard, and a demand for souvenirs.
Whilst there were further sporadic raids into 1917 and 1918, the air raid initiative passed from airships to aeroplanes. Effectively, Zeppelin raids were continued for their nuisance value only. The Zeppelin threat had been overcome; where an aeroplane armed with the new incendiary and explosive ammunition got an airship in its sights, it was inevitably doomed. Fittingly, the final Zeppelin raid on the country was thwarted off the Norfolk coast in August 1918.Tickets are £6 and can be bought online or on the door - refreshments are also available.
Doors open at 7pm for a 7:30pm start. Talks last approximately an hour, followed by the opportunity to ask the speaker a question!
Short Biography: David Marks
I am a committee member of Cross & Cockade International (The First World War Aviation Historical Society) and a member of the Airship Heritage Trust and lecture on behalf these organisations. I also write Cross & Cockade’s quarterly email newsletter “Wind in the Wires”, which has over 1,350 subscribers. I also contribute to magazines, websites and other First World War projects.
In 2016, I was a member of the committee set up by the Northaw & Cuffley Parish Council to commemorate the centenary of the shooting down of airship SL11 by Lieutenant William Leefe Robinson VC.
In 2017, my first book “Let the Zeppelins Come” was published by Amberley Publishing and received national press coverage. It is based on my unique collection of postcards and other artefacts. I was also a contributor to “Pack Up Your Troubles: How Humorous Postcards Helped to Win World War I” by James Taylor (Bloomsbury, 2016). In October 2019, my second book, “The Zeppelin Offensive: A German Perspective in Pictures and Postcards”, was published by Frontline Books. It considers the propaganda role of the iconic airship and its inventor to the German public.