The arrival of the gigantic Zeppelin airships over England was a great shock to the British population who never before had the war come to their doors. The first raid was on the 19th January 1915 when Great Yarmouth was hit by bombs and two were killed and three injured. The press were of course outraged and described the raid as ‘frightful’. The postcard industry saw an opportunity for profit however and produced some striking postcards of the new aerial menace:
It was not long, however, before the defenders started hitting back and William Leefe Robinson shot down L11 in the morning of 3rd September 1915, as witnessed by Muriel Dayrell-Browning who wrote to her mother describing the event:
At 2.30 I was awakened by a terrific explosion and was at the window in one bound when another deafening one shook the house. Nearly above us sailed a cigar of bright silver in the full glare of about 20 magnificent searchlights. A few lights roamed around trying to pick out his companion. Our guns made a deafening row and shells burst all around her. For some extraordinary reason she was dropping no bombs. The night was absolutely still with a few splendid stars. It was a magnificent sight and the whole of London was looking on holding its breath.
Then- from the direction of Barnet and very high a brilliant red light appeared… Then we saw it was the Zep diving head first. That was a sight. She dived slowly at first as only the foremost ballonet was on fire. Then the second burst and the flames tore up into the sky and then the thud and cheers thundered all round us from every direction. The plane lit up all London and was rose red. Those deaths must be the most dramatic in the world’s history. They fell- a cone of blazing wreckage thousands of feet- watched by 8 millions of their enemies.
It was magnificent, the most thrilling scene imaginable.