Victims of the first airship raid on Britain remembered

26 January 2012 | Kate Clements

On 19 January 1915, the first airship raid on Britain took place. The towns of King’s Lynn and Great Yarmouth in Norfolk were attacked by two German Zeppelins. Several people were killed and buildings were destroyed.

Damage to buildings in King’s Lynn caused by the first airship raid on 19-20 January 1915

In Great Yarmouth, Samuel Smith, aged 53, and Martha Taylor, 72, were some of the first British victims of aerial bombardment.

They were killed by bombs dropped by the airship L3 at around 8.30 pm.

Both of them have now been remembered on a new memorial that has been unveiled in the coastal town.

A blue plaque bearing their names was recently unveiled by the town’s mayor at St Peter’s Plain – the site where both the residents lost their lives. The ceremony was attended by Martha Taylor’s great niece.

The events of the air raid were researched by The Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological Society, which also organised the plaque.

It is not certain whether the Norfolk towns were the intended targets of the raid. It has been suggested that the pilot of L33 believed he was over the north east of England when he ordered the attack. Others think Great Yarmouth’s harbour was bombed for strategic reasons.

The 19 January raid marked the start of over 50 attacks by German airships on Britain, which killed more than 500 people and caused injury to many more.

Learn more about air raids in the First World War on IWM’s website.