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.
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?
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.