Schoolchildren Hit In Bombing Raid On London In 1917
There have been films a plenty describing The Battle of Britain but I had not realised that England was actually bombed in World War One too.
Although their children would make the best of it and Keep Calm and Carry On almost a quarter of a century later, from 1914-1918, the fear and shock were far more prevalent.
First there were the Zeppelin air ships but, when the British could to defend against these, then Germany let rip with their secret weapon.
The massive sleek, silver German Gotha bombers were a bit of a shock when the formations suddenly were seen over the south coast of Britain on 25 May 1917.
The element of surprise resulted in it taking almost 30 mintues for the air defences to be martialled.
There were many air fields and army camps along the south coast and, unable to get to the capital on their first raid due to the weather, the enemy aeroplanes had targeted these instead.
But, not content with the military targets, they had sufficient ammunition to severely damage several British seaside resorts as well.
On a glorious day in May, Sandgate, Folkestone and Hythe were all hit totally by surprise.
Sixty people, including lots of women and children were killed in Folkestone when 51 bombs from more than twenty of the bi-planes hurtled down and exploded in a one mile square area of the town around the harbour.
Just a few weeks later on the morning of Wednesday 13th June, a flight of 22 of the Gotha aircraft attacked again when they came along the River Crouch and dropped bombs in Barking, East Ham, the Docks in Silvertown, Liverpool Street Station and the business areas of the City at Fenchurch Street and Aldgate. Then they split into two sections with one bombing Dalston and then Stepney, Limehouse and Poplar and the other went across the Thames to hit Southwark and Bermondsey.
It was the horror of this day that made the Government re-examine the production of our own aircraft manufacturing and the way in which such raids were tracked and the public alerted.