ZEPPELIN RAID 23/23 APRIL 1916


An L class Zeppelin


A little known or recorded incident took place on the night of Easter Monday, 1916.s was customary in those days of warfare, little was reported in the press at the time. One simple account related that a Zeppelin raid had taken place over Norfolk and Suffolk, causing injury to just 2 people, not even a mention of the racehorse that was killed !

A strike of six navy Zeppelins had been planned on London prior to a naval bombardment of Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. Strong southerly winds forced to seek targets further north, in Suffolk and Norfolk.
L16, captained by Oberleutnant zur See, Werner Peterson, crossed the coast at Trimingham, at 1015 pm and took a winding course south west, dropping a small parachute with German illustrated newspapers attached over Kimberley. Then via Attleborough and East Haring to Thetford, reaching there around 11:30 pm , where he circled for about 20 minutes before going on the Brandon reaching Mildenhall just after mid-night.
Circling just south of Cheveley he turned north east and passed over Newmarket at 12:30 am. Being fired upon by two machine guns Peterson retaliated

He dropped 18 high explosive bombs across the middle of the town in a line from the Racecourse side to Warren Hill Station. Several houses near St Mary's Square were damaged and a stable on Bry Road was badly damaged, killing a racehorse (Coup de Main)

Witnesses related that the first bomb fell behind Houldsworth Terrace on Black Bear Lane , followed by another in Regent Street, in front of "The Wheatsheaf" and then another near the "Five Bells" in St.Mary's Square. One bomb fell on Capt Dewhurst's Bedford Lodge Stables, killing one horse, Coup de Main. The only human injury was caused by a bomb which fell at Reydon Lodge (near Warren Hill station), injuring Mr.Bailey, who was watching from a window and later had to have an arm amputated. The last HE bomb fell near the Bury Toll junction and an incendiary fell on the Limekilns training rounds. He then made off towards Bury St.Edmunds.

Oberleutnant Peterson was to be killed on 24th September that year,when he was captain of Zeppelin L32,shot down by R.F.C Lieutenant Frederick Sowerby, crashing near Braintree. His was the only body of the 22 that was identified, the rest too badly burnt, he had jumped to his death rather than burn.Buried in Briantree initially he was years later re-interred in the German Cemetery at Cannock Chase,Staffs.


report from the Newmarket Local History Society archives


Acknowledgement: "Zeppeln Blitz The German air raids on Great Britain during the 1st World War" -Neil R Storey

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