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19th January 1915 - The Great War, Day by Day - The Wartime Memories Project

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The Wartime Memories Project - The Great War - Day by Day



19th January 1915

On this day:


  • First Zeppelin Raid on Britain   Following an attempt on 13th of January 1915 which was abandoned because of the weather, the first successful raid took place on the night of 19th–20th January 1915. Two Zeppelins LZ24(L3) and LZ27(L4) targeted Humberside, but were diverted by strong winds, and dropped 24 50kg H.E.bombs and 3 kg incendiaries on Great Yarmouth, Sheringham, King's Lynn and the surrounding villages. Four people were killed and 16 injured. Monetary damage was estimated at £7,740. There was a third Zeppelin on the raid but it turned back due to engine trouble LZ31(L6).

    The two craft had left Hamburg only that morning and had run into bad weather- so bad, in fact, that a third zeppelin, L6, was forced to abort its westward mission. L3 and L4, however, continued to force themselves on through driving wind and snow until they finally reached the line of land below. At this point, on the very edge of England, the two Zeppelins split up. L3 made its way south-east along the coast, around and down to the town of Yarmouth. There it dropped its bombs on and around the harbour. L4 drove north-west to the village of Sheringham, swiftly getting lost. In a meandering way it travelled west, dropping incendiaries on the villages it passed below, until it finally found Kings Lynn. The bombs that L4 dropped there, at 10.50pm, like the bombs dropped on Yarmouth by L3 two and a half hours before, caused death and destruction. As the Zeppelins left England behind they also left four people killed and nineteen injured.

    • 8pm 1915 the zeppelins cross Britain's shore
    • 8:25 the L3 bombs Great Yarmouth
    • 8:45 L4 bombs Sheringham
    • 9:50 L4 bombs Hunstanton
    • 10:30 L4 Snettisham
    • 10:50 L4 bombs Kings Lynn, killing the first British civilians of the Great War.
    • 12:30am L4 bombs Great Yarmouth.

    The raid prompted alarmist stories about German agents using car headlights to guide Zeppelins to their targets and there was even a rumour that a Zeppelin was operating from a concealed base in the Lake District.

    Given the large and gruesome expanse of the First World War, the four lives lost in Norfolk that evening might seem insignificant. Yet with the visit of those Zeppelins to England on a dark night in January there also arrived a new age of strategic bombing and modern, total warfare which obscured by the quiet anonymity of the first victims. In Yarmouth a shoemaker named Sam Smith and an elderly lady called Martha Taylor were killed instantly by a bomb that fell in St. Peter’s Plain, a working class district of the town. In Bentinck Street, Kings Lynn, bombs blew open several terraced houses, resulting in the death of a 26 year old woman, Alice Glazely, and a 14 year old boy, Percy Goate. These were no military men. They were an old man, an elderly and young woman, and, most horrifying of all, a child. And they all were dead, killed at home, in Great Britain. From these small, murderous beginnings, greater horrors were to grow in the twentieth century.

  • Zeppelin Raid   Zeppelins L3 and L4 participated in the first raid over England on the night of the 19/20th January 1915. The two German Zeppelin airships crossed the Norfolk coastline at around 8.30pm. Having crossed the coast the L3 turned north and the L4 south. The incendiary bombs were dropped to enable the pilots to navigate to their chosen locations Great Yarmouth and Kings Lynn where they dropped their bombs.

    “I went to see what the light was. I found that they had dropped a fire-bomb on a house. It had gone through the roof and the bedroom floor, making a hole large enough to crawl through, and setting the bed on fire, in which were two children. I went in, and helped to put out the fire. The poor women and the two children were terribly frightened, but they were not hurt. I heard the noise from the Zeppelin for five minutes, and then it cleared off. There was no time to get a shot at it.” Private William Smith, Sherwood Rangers.

  • Recruitment and Training 16th Btn. Royal Irish Rifles   

    Parade at Brownlow House, Lurgan.

    16th Btn. Royal Irish Rifles - Pioneers Recruitment continued making slow progress with numbers reaching 800 all ranks by the 19th January 1915. Training continued in various stages as more recruits joined and had to work hard to catch up with the standard of earlier enlisted ranks. There was little sympathy for newer recruits who had to catch up with the others. The young animal must keep up with the herd in migration or else - so time was not on their side.

    Early in January it was announced that the 2nd County Down Volunteers were to become the Pioneer Battalion for the Ulster Division. Training in pioneering skills was to commence while maintaining physical fitness and military discipline. There was now more concentration on manoeuvres at both day and night trying to gain experience in mock attacks and defence methods before the real battles ahead. That would have left the battalion ready for normal action but this was not a normal battalion. Alongside this training they now had to learn the skills of the pioneer which involved all aspects of transportation in offensive and defensive positions including river crossings. Afternoon classes taught joinery and other skills for battle planning. Sections were sent by rotation to work on local roads, railways and buildings all of which they would have to service under enemy fire in the front line areas in France and Belgium.

    In recognition of their additional duties they were to be paid an extra 2 pence a day on top of the infantry rate of one shilling per day. It was later raised in parliament that this compared unfavourably with the Royal Engineers who received 1/10d per day and the Labour Corps which received 3 shillings per day. Even though it was like work the government refused to interfere with what it termed as set army rates of pay.

    An article entitled trench warfare has been included in November 1914 pages which, with relevant sketches, details the type of construction carried out with some description of offensive and defensive related works. (These appear in the date range 1st to 6th November 1914.)

    So the 16th were a very special unit indeed as we shall see from their performance up to and after the cessation of hostilities in 1918.

    On the 12th January 21 horses arrived and the Transport Officer got to work on his teams for transporting equipment necessary to support the men in their work locations. Certain officers were also required to have mounts to fulfil their command roles.

    Railway Training. On the 21st January 4 Officers (including 2/Lt. White WR, the author's father) and 50 men were sent to Belfast, Carrickfergus and Antrim to receive instruction on Railroad Construction. A similar party of 4 officers and 39 men were sent to Newtownards for pioneer railway work. It seems likely that Antrim had a Royal Engineer Field Unit which would have helped considerably in the training.

    Doran Family


  • 19th Jan 1915 2nd Queens in trenches

  • 19th Jan 1915 Town Surrenders

  • 19th Jan 1915 18th Battalion raised for Middlesex

  • 19th Jan 1915 Revetting

  • 19th Jan 1915 In the Trenches

  • 19th Jan 1915 Reinforcements





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Killed, Wounded, Missing and Prisoner Reports published this day.





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Remembering those who died this day.

  • Pte. Robert Goldie. Seaforth Highlanders 8th Btn. Read their Story.
  • Pte. Robert Goldie. Seaforth Highlanders 8th Battalion Read their Story.

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