Some people have believed – and all have hoped it was true- that Zeppelins would never come to Lynn. It was therefore an unpleasant surprise, at 11 o’clock on Tuesday night to find one actually in our midst dropping bombs just as they were dropped over the city of Antwerp.
It will be recalled that in the case of Antwerp, although the enemy had the excuse that the place was surrounded by fortifications, the practice of bombarding the homes of peaceful citizens was regarded as so unusual and novel as to call forth strong protests.
Since then German methods have advanced – or retrograded – to the point where it is considered proper to drop bombs on a town that is separated by two counties from a fortress and by leagues of the King’s highway from a field gun.
Lynn can hardly be called a defended town when, as on Tuesday night, an airship can sail above it for ten minutes or so scattering bombs broadcast and is not assailed by so much as a rifle bullet.
Two people, a young widow and a boy, met their deaths, and many other harmless civilians – including women and children – had miraculous escapes from a similar fate, which the destruction of private property was considerable.
Perhaps the brightest feature of the occurrence was the manner in which the people of Lynn, like those of Yarmouth, Scarborough and other English towns in like circumstances, faced the situation so suddenly thrust upon them.
In spite of the nerve-wracking ordeal which they were called upon to withstand they showed an outward calm which was most commendable.
So sudden was the raid that to most people – including we believe the military in our midst – the first intimation that any was amiss was given by the sound of bursting bombs.
In the course of the evening the Chief Constable received an advance that Zeppelins were abroad and warned the electrical engineer to hasten the extinguishing of the street lamps, which has of late commenced about 10pm.
The work was, however, still incomplete when about five minutes to eleven the bombardment commenced and then the electric current was shut off entirely at the works, plunging the town into almost total darkness.
Where bright gas lights remained behind transparent blinds the police, assisted by voluntary special constables, warned householders to “put that light out please!” and the town soon assumed – with one or two exceptions – an appearance of impenetrable gloom; but by this time unfortunately, the damage had been done.
The track followed by the bomb-droppers showed a remarkable acquaintance with the topography of the town and an evident desire to strike at the railway, the post office and the docks, but with their usual disregard for the lives and property of private citizens.
In only one case was the presumed object accomplished, in the destruction of the power house on the docks and the consequent disabling of the hydraulic machinery.
It appears to be generally agreed that seven bombs were dropped in this town, though it is said that several others were thrown just on the outskirts of the Borough.
The first of the seven came to earth in a field adjoining the Hunstanton railway at the rear of Tennyson Avenue where a capacious hole was excavated and many windows of the hoses in Tennyson Avenue and Park Avenue were shattered.
The next fell on the allotments which skirt the railway line to the north of the recreation ground. Here again a hole large enough to bury a horse was scooped out and houses in the neighbourhood had their windows broken.
Next came the most serious part of the whole business, two bombs falling in the densely populated area in the rear of St James’s Road and causing not only extensive damage to property but lamentable loss of life and personal injuries.
Bentinck Street and Melbourne Street were the principal sufferers. In neither of them did a single house escape damage and in all the surrounding thoroughfares, including South Clough Lane numerous windows were broken.
One of the bombs fell upon and completely wrecked two cottages, Nos. 11 and 12 on the west side of Bentinck Street and a second dropped in close proximity on another cottage at the rear of No 10, for this was almost entirely destroyed.
No. 12 was occupied by Mr John William Goate, his wife and two children, all of whom were instantly buried under a heap of masonry and woodwork.
A party of soldiers, police and others were soon on the spot and worked hard to extricate them. One of the children, a little girl of four could be heard screaming piteously. By the removal of bricks and the sawing of timber all were eventually removed.
The man was reached first, but told his rescuers to look to his wife and children first, as he was pinned beneath an iron bedstead which had to be removed in pieces with help of a hacksaw and he was left for a time which the woman and children were removed.
Percy Goate, aged 14, was found to be quite dead. The man, with his wife were removed to the hospital suffering from numerous cuts and bruises.
In the next house, No. 11, Mr and Mrs Fayers had a similar experience, being buried in the debris, but were quickly released and taken to hospital.
A more tragic fate befell Mrs Gazley, who occupied a corner house a few doors away, but who, upon the first sign of trouble took refuge in the house of Mr and Mrs Fayers. During the night her father, Mr Rowe, of Albert Terrace, Gaywood Road, found that she was missing and reported the matter to the police.
At 7.30 on Wednesday morning Mr Rowe and P.S. Beaumont set to work to dig among the ruins of Mr Fayers’s house and there after half an hours work they found the dead body of Mrs Gazley.
Her fate is rendered the more sad from the fact that quite recently her husband was killed which fighting for his country on the Continent.
The other wrecked cottage was occupied by Mr Dan Skipper with his wife and daughter. All of them were in bed at the time of the occurrence, but all escaped with their lives, the two women with but slight injuries. Mr Skipper was more badly hurt and had to be treated at the hospital.
Elsewhere in the town Mr Charles Kidston, a representative of Messrs Miller and Riches of Edinburgh, was staying at Cozens’ Temperance Hotel on Tuesday night. He and others were chatting in the commercial room when the first bomb exploded. It blew in the plate glass window and they hurriedly made for the lower part of the building.
After the second bomb he and others went out to scene of the explosion in Bentinck Street. There Mr Kidston, who is a late Sergt. Major of the Royal Army Medical Corps promptly rendered first aid to the injured man Goate.
Miss Bruce, the manageress of the hotel was very prompt and collected. She promptly called up all the household and assured them that everything was perfectly safe.
n Lucky escapes for Lynn residents: Page 26