The Wartime Memories Project - The Great War - Day by Day
23rd September 1916On this day:
- Little Firing 236th London Brigade Royal Field Artillery report from
Fairly quiet day and Batteries did very little firing. The enemy were singularly quiet throughout the afternoon, their artillery being almost entirely silent. At night Batteries fired a few rounds on a German working party digging a trench.
- Zeppelin Raids on Britain 23/24 September 1916
The German Navy remained aggressive and a 12-Zeppelin raid was launched on 23–24 September 1916. Eight older airships bombed targets in the Midlands and Northeast, while four M-class Zeppelins (L 30, L 31, L 32, and L 33) attacked London. L 30 did not even cross the coast, dropping its bombs at sea. L 31 approached London from the south, dropped a few bombs on Kenley and Mitcham and was picked up by searchlights. Forty-one bombs were then dropped in rapid succession over Streatham, killing seven and wounding 27.
More bombs were dropped on Brixton before crossing the river and dropping 10 bombs on Leyton, killing another eight people and injuring 30. L 31 then headed home.
Also coming in from the south was L 32, delayed by engine problems, it dropped a few bombs on Sevenoaks and Swanley before crossing Purfleet at about 0100. The Zeppelin then came under anti-aircraft fire as it dropped bombs on Aveley and South Ockendon. Shortly thereafter, at 0110, a BE2c piloted by 2nd Lieutenant Frederick Sowrey engaged L 32. He fired three drums of incendiaries and succeeded in starting a fire which quickly spread to the entire airship. The Zeppelin came down at Snail's Hall Farm, Great Burstead. The entire crew was killed, with some, including the commander Oberleutnant-zur-See Werner Peterson, choosing to jump rather than burn to death.
L 33 dropped a few incendiaries over Upminster before losing its way and making several turns, heading over London and dropping bombs on Bromley at around midnight. As the bombs began to explode, the Zeppelin was hit by an anti-aircraft shell fired from the guns at either Beckton, Wanstead, or Victoria Park despite being at 13,000 feet (4,000 m). Dropping bombs now to shed weight, a large number fell on homes in Botolph Road and Bow Road.
As the airship headed towards Chelmsford it continued to lose height, coming under fire at Kelvedon Hatch and briefly exchanging fire with a BE2c. Despite the efforts of the crew, L 33 was forced to the ground at around 0115 in a field close to New Hall Cottages, Little Wigborough.
The airship was set alight and the crew headed south before being arrested at Peldon by the police. Inspection of the wreckage provided the British with much information about the construction of Zeppelins, which was used in the design of the British R33-class airships. One 250 hp (190 kW) engine recovered from the wreck was subsequently substituted for two (of four) 180 hp (130 kW) engines on a Vickers-built machine, the hitherto underpowered R.9.
- 23rd September 1916 Move to L'Etoile
- 23rd September 1916 Water
- Exchange of Fire 18th DLI report from Windy Corner in the Givenchy Sector "Very misty in early morning. Some Minenwerfer activity in morning between 3 – 5 from B & C Coy. & Poppy Redoubt Garrison evacuated their posts during firing of Heavy Trench Mortar Battery. The enemy replied fairly vigorously with TM’s & blew in front line held by Left of B Coy. Berkley St & Clarges. Very quiet at night."
Teh National Archives Reference WO95/2361/1
- 23rd Sep 1916 Working Parties
- 23rd Sep 1916 Recce
- 23rd Sep 1916 On the March
- 23rd Sep 1916 Concert
- 23rd Sep 1916 Into the Trenches
- 23rd of September 1916 MGs Active
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