Zeppelin Raid on Southend

An eye witness report from Benfleet

On the night of the 9/10 may 1915 the German military made their second bombing raid on the UK this time choosing Southend as the target. The ship was the LZ.38, captained by Hauptmann Erich Linnarz. He made two successful bombing runs over Southend dropping nearly 100 bombs, mainly incendiary, and causing a lot of damage and one death. A fuller report is on the Southend Timeline site. Also a report is on the Canvey Island site.

Zeppelin Visits Southend

A short Pathe video of the damage to some of the houses.

Report of Raid From Benfleet

The Coventry Evening Telegraph gave extensive reports of the raid on the morning afterwards including this eyewitness report from Benfleet:

Anti-Aircraft Guns Fire

Mr. Walter Bingham, of Belgrave, Benfleet, gave an interesting account of the movement of the Zeppelin, for he was quite clear that it was a Zeppelin and not an aeroplane. Benfleet is about five miles from Southend, and it was apparently the explosion of the bombs at the latter place which arouse Mr. Bingham. He said:

“At 2.50 I was awakened by a report and explosion, and heard something like the whirring of an engine. I got up and dressed and went out, and saw a Zeppelin. It was apparently coming from the north-east, from Burnham and Crouch, and making for Chatham. To do that it would naturally pass over Southend, and thus approach Benfleet. The anti-aircraft guns began to fire at it, and it turned and went in a westward direction, towards London.

How the Airship Disappeared

Then it turned eastward again, and I saw that she seemed to be down by the head. She turned apparently in her own length, and her manoeuvring was wonderful.

There was a big bank of clouds coming in from the eastward, driven by a smart easterly breeze, and she went right into the middle of it. The strong easterly wind made difference. She got out right on top of it. I saw her first when she was at a very high altitude, showing like a blur between two stars. From 2.30 to 3.20 I had my glasses on her all the time, and saw her quite plainly. She appeared at first to be showing lights, but closer investigation proved she was not.

At 3 a.m. the moon was just up about a quarter and you could see the light reflected on her belly and making it shine. The Zeppelin’s sailing was fine. She was going right dead against an easterly breeze when she disappeared. Fifteen minutes after she had gone the whole sky was covered with clouds which had come in with the squall.”

Burnt out firebombs which fell near Thundersley.

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