3/9/1916 Germany’s largest Zeppelin raid yet ends in disaster

Germany continues to send its Zeppelins to bomb targets in Britain. Quite why they bother is another matter entirely. The Zeppelins are not bringing the British to their knees. Their bombs have caused some disquiet but they are not creating widespread devastation or much disruption.

Yesterday in the largest Zeppelin raid of the war so far, sixteen of the giant airships set off to attack London. Unfortunately they were unable to find their target and dropped their bombs more or less at random, killing four people and injuring another twelve. Property damage was minimal.

The Zeppelins are not able to make their escape scot-free. British anti-aircraft defences have become increasingly sophisticated. The Zeppelins attack by night, but the British have deployed searchlights to illuminate the gas giants, which are then targeted by anti-aircraft fire or British aeroplanes. In the small hours of the morning, the SL 11 airship is trying to make its way home when it is caught by searchlights. A British fighter plane attacks, setting fire to the airship. It turns into a giant ball of flame and crashes into the ground, killing its entire crew.

This is the first Zeppelin to be brought down over Britain. Leefe Robinson, the British fighter pilot is fêted for his feat. Now the British increasingly lose their fear of the German airships, while the Zeppelin crews fear that flying over Britain is a journey to their death.

image source (Jonathan Ware, Military Historian)

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