The Lynn News is marking the centenary of the Zeppelin air raids on West Norfolk with a series of articles from our archives, containing fascinating eye-witness accounts of what happened on January 19, 1915.
Graphic accounts by eyewitnesses of the Zeppelin raids on King’s Lynn, Brancaster, Heacham and Snettisham were reported at length in the Lynn Advertiser.
Two people died, many others were wounded and properties destroyed or damaged in the attack on the night of Tuesday, January 19, 1915. Two people had also been killed at Yarmouth.
A 26-year-old widow, Alice Maud Gazley, and 14-year-old Percy Goate were both killed when a bomb was dropped on Bentinck Street in Lynn.
The Lynn News, published three days later, said that for Norfolk it was the first taste of war as carried out by Germany.
The report continued: “Everybody who knows anything of Prussian history knows that the Prussians have always been robbers and murderers in war. The fate of Belgium and Western France shows that their character has not changed and their visit to Norfolk proves that what they have done on the continent they will do in England so far as they have the power.
“Thanks to the British fleet their army has so far been prevented from landing, so that they have not been able to perpetrate crime in England on a large scale.
“But their airships can cross the sea and on Tuesday night they killed and destroyed as much as they could.
“It seems to be pretty clearly established that the invading force comprised two or three Zeppelins, attended by aeroplanes, and they had flown from Germany.”
The first attack had been at about 8.30pm on Yarmouth where two people were killed and there was much damage to property.
Then the course of the raiders could be traced across Norfolk by the bombs dropped at Sheringham and Brancaster. Hunstanton, perhaps because wrapped in impenetrable darkness, escaped damage although an aeroplane was heard passing over the town.
From Hunstanton the course of the Zeppelin was over Heacham and Snettisham on both of which it dropped bombs. Thence to Lynn and after a devastating stay of about ten minutes it sailed off. Apparently it re-joined the rest of the German squadron and all returned safely to Germany.
The German government later issued the following official report: “On the night of January 19th naval airships undertook an attack on some fortified places on the English East Coast. The weather was foggy and rainy.
“Several bombs were successfully dropped. The airships were shot at, but returned unhurt.”
In its editorial the Lynn News retorted: “It is needless to say that the town of Lynn and the villages of Heacham and Snettisham and Brancaster are not fortified places and the German government knows that they are not.
“The fact that they deliberately issue this falsehood is only another token of the character of the German nation.
“As for their being shot at, it can only be wished they had been. Unfortunately not a shot was fired at them in Lynn or West Norfolk.”