A 1915 piece of fake news… with good intentions

When German Naval Airship Zeppelin L9 appeared over Blyth on the evening of 14 April 1915, it was only the second time bombs had been dropped on England. Although nobody was killed, it marked the beginning of a series of raids on the North-East which would kill many dozens of people.

The Zeppelin L9, on her first mission, headed inland north of Blyth and was attacked with rifle fire from the 1st Battalion Nothern Cyclists at Cambois. She then dropped bombs on West Sleekburn following a winding course over Northumberland dropping bombs as she went, before heading for Wallsend where one bomb resulted in the only casualties of the night, injuring a woman and a child.


Locals standing around a WW1 crater caused by a bomb released from a Zeppelin.

The Zeppelin then turned east and crossed the coast at Marsden. Newspaper reports at the time suggested she had missed her main target, Tyneside’s factories and shipyards. However a raid in June was much more deadly. Among those killed were 17 men at Palmer’s Works at Jarrow.

The photo above is exactly as it seems but what about the one below?

Zeppelin attack on Blyth.jpg

The image is from an old postcard of a town called Blyth, not too far away from Newcastle in NorthEast England and it depicts a Zeppelin attack on the 14th April 1915.

The streets are real, the aerial bombing was real but the actual photo has been photoshopped as we might say today, Fake news it might be called now or propaganda albeit for a good cause.

Zeppelins would normally attack in the dark; they were very slow moving and extremely vulnerable if they were spotted.  By the cover of darkness they could wreak havoc and in the days before radar it was sheer good luck if a pilot in an aeroplane could find them to shoot them down.

Zeppelins weren’t quite silent and if you’ve ever heard a modern day airship then you’ll know they emit a low hum at low altitudes.  However the noise of a WW1 aeroplane engine would drown it out in the dark.

As such there was no photograph of this zeppelin attack and the people under neath it may never have known they were about to be attacked.  However the image of the zeppelin was placed onto the photo as part of a fund raising effort to to support those families in what must have been a totally shocking incident to be attacked from the sky.

Such air-raids took place from Edinburgh all the way to London and NE towns like Scarborough, Whitby and North Shields were directly shelled by the German Navy under the cover of the famous North Sea fog.

It marked the first time that civilians were deliberately targeted in modern war.


Lest We Forget

My easy to understand but comprehensive history of WW1 in Kindle and Paperback.


About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including several #1 sellers. I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. I run my private tours company with one tour stated by the leading travel website as being with the #1 authentic London Experience. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
This entry was posted in history, Life, WW1 and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

A blog is nothing with out feedback, please give me some!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s