Zeppelin bombs Tyneside. On Tuesday 15th June 1915 Zeppelin LZ40(L10) commanded by Kapitan Leutnant Hirsch crossed the coast north of Blyth and headed directly for Wallsend where bombs were dropped on the Marine Engineering Works causing severe damage. 7 Heavy Explosive and 5 Incendiary Bombs then fell on Palmer's Works at Jarrow where 17 men died and 72 were injured.
North of the river again, bombs fell at Willington where they damaged Cookson's Antimony Works and Pochin's Chemical Works and several houses; a policeman died at Willington Quay.
The L10 then headed for the sea dropping bombs on Haxton Colliery and South Shields on the way.
It flew over Palmer’s Shipyard about 2340, dropped its bombs killing 17 persons and injuring 72.
There was a Memorial with 12 names on, at one time in the Stirling Foundry in Jarrow, once part of the Palmer Shipyard.
The bombing must have been highly censured at the time having just a few lines in the Shields Gazette on Thursday 17th June 1915.
It just stated 16 killed which included a policeman and 40 injured when a Zeppelin bombed Jarrow. On Friday 18th in the Shields Gazette there was another small column regarding the inquest which noted the following 14 had been killed in the yard:
- Albert Bramley 54
- Matthew Carter 55
- Karl Johan W. Kalnin 22
- Joseph Lane 67 (Marine Engineer)
- Robert Thomas Nixon 32
- Frederick Pinnock 31
- Lawrence Frazer Sanderson 16
- Thomas Henry Smith 23
- Ralph Snaith 48
- William Stamford 40
- Joseph Beckwith Thornicroft 31
- William Grieves Turner 20
- John George Windle 27
- William Ernest Cook Young 16
It also added Ann Isabella Laughlin 62 living near to the yard, died from shock. It also stated there was an inquest for a policeman (no name given) who was killed over in Willington Quay.
These two died later from their wounds:
John Cuthbert Davison 31 (Fitter and Turner) and George Ward 18 (Apprentice Fitter and Turner)
The Zeppelin LZ40 (L10) was destroyed by lightning near Cuxhaven off the Neuwerk Island in Germany on 3rd September 1915.
There follows some further summary and eye witness accounts.
- Zeppelin Specification
- Production Number: LZ-40
- Tactical Number or Name:L10
- First Flight:13 May 1915
- LZ-40 flew eight reconnaissance missions around the North Sea.
- She participated in five attacks on England, dropping 9,900 kg of bombs.
- She flew in the great raid on London of 17-18 August 1915 during which Leyton was bombed causing ten deaths and injuring 48 people.
- She was destroyed in a thunderstorm on 3 September 1915 near Cuxhaven.
Report on Tyneside Raid: Tuesday 15th June 1915.
Censorship forbade newspapers like the Shields Gazette reporting it at the time. Even now, the story of the death and devastation that a Zeppelin visited on Jarrow during the First World War is still coming together like a jigsaw and integral to that, Philip Strong believes, could be eyewitness accounts handed down through the generations.
Philip, who lives in New South Wales, Australia, lost his great uncle, Joseph Lane, in the raid on the night of June 15, 1915. Sixteen of the dead were from Palmer’s shipyard, among them Joseph, a 67-year-old engineer, born in Ireland, and whose home was in Bede Burn Road.
Philip, who has researched the episode in impressive detail, says: “Some stories must have been passed down through Jarrow families about the bombing. What did the survivors say?”
One eyewitness account he has turned up is that of Captain Hugh Tweedie RN.
He was supervising the fitting out of two Monitor-class warships at Palmer’s, the Marshal Soult at Hebburn and the Marshal Ney at Jarrow.
On the evening of June 15, a Tuesday, Tweedie had returned to his lodgings at the North Eastern Hotel, near Jarrow railway station.
Early next morning, Arthur Gowan, managing director of Palmer’s, woke him and told him there had been a Zeppelin raid and he went at once to the shipyard. He found that in the street leading to the yard, every window from every house had been blown out. In the yard itself, “some 50 men” had been killed and injured by a bomb, which had fallen into the main fitting shop where work had been going on in night shifts.
The erecting shop was also hit, where considerable damage had been done to a series of destroyers’ engines which were being built. Out in the shipyard, a bomb had fallen near the Marshal Ney and splinters had pierced the side and deck plating.
Says Philip: “Captain Tweedie said that the Zeppelin had come quite low down in the absence of any anti-aircraft guns. There was no organisation for putting-out the lights and that, under the circumstances, it was lucky that far more damage had not been done. “Perhaps he was referring to the ships in the yard. Was this due to the glass-sectioned roofs of the engine works shops? The glare from the roofs would make the ships a target, but placed the shipyard in shadow.” Life, though, did go on and, the next day, Hugh Tweedie’s wife, Constance, launched the Marshal Ney.
Strict censorship was imposed on the Press, which simply reported that there had been a Zeppelin raid in the area at about 2340. No locations were given.
However, an inquest report described what probably happened to the night-shift workers in the main fitting shop: “A night manager said at about 2315 he heard a loud report and saw a flash. This was followed by others in rapid succession. A bomb dropped on the roof. Witness was about 25 or 30 feet from it, and he was struck by splinters on the back and head, the latter being cut. As near as he could estimate three or four bombs fell on the roof, two more being more powerful than the others.”
The newspapers named the victims, and Philip has gleaned information on some of their occupations from the 1911 Census.
- Lawrence Fraser Sanderson;
- Matthew Carter, ship fitter;
- Joseph Beckwith Thorneycroft, sea-going engineer;
- John George Windle, screwing machine fitter;
- Karl Johan W. Kalnin;
- William Erskine Cook Young;
- William Grieves Turner, apprentice engineer’s fitter;
- Joseph Lane, mechanical engineer;
- Robert Thomas Nixon, mechanic turner and fitter;
- Frederick Pinnock;
- Albert Bramley, colliery above ground labourer;
- Thomas Henry Smith, apprentice engineer;
- Ralph Snaith, turner in turbine works;
- William Stamford, colliery fitter;
- George Ward, apprentice fitter and turner;
- John Cuthbert Davison, fitter and turner.
Raid Sequence of events.
The L10 Zeppelin with Commander Hirsch made landfall just north of Blyth near the Wansbeck River, and then turned south towards the Tyne.
Hirsch firstly bombed the North Eastern Marine Engineering works at Willington Quay, Wallsend. His observers reported that on the left there were blast furnaces, a winding river and many industrial plants. He relied on his observers since the newly trialled radio navigation was not effective.
The Commander perceived he was under fire from shore batteries, and probably immediately crossed the river, bombed the Hebburn Colliery, lined up the lights of the Palmers' blast furnaces and their Engineering Works for a straight bombing run. Perhaps the two reports which an inquest witness later reported, were actually bombs on the blast furnaces?
This witness then said that half a minute later there were 14 reports…. perhaps the 7 explosive bombs and 5 incendiaries which were said to have been dropped on Palmers engineering construction department, killing 16 workmen.
Hirsch then continued on an arc across the river to bomb the chemical plants at Howdon near Willington Quay (Cookson's Antimony Works and Pochin's Chemical Works).
The L10 went out to sea via South Shields, leaving a scenic railway ablaze near the Haxton Colliery Staithes (coal loading piers).
5/16th June 1915
After the attack by L 10 on Tyneside on 15–16 June the short summer nights discouraged further raids for some months, and the remaining Army Zeppelins were re-assigned to the Eastern and Balkan fronts. The Navy resumed raids on Britain in August.