We in Britain often forget that it wasn’t just members of the armed forces fighting abroad, who died during the First World War. Many civilians died on British soil during the conflict.
In the early 1990’s I lived in Hartlepool, Cleveland. The house I owned had a large diagonal crack down the wall next to the stairs that went from the basement through to the attic. It was caused when the German warship Blücher bombarded the town on the 16th December, killing 86 civilians and injuring 424.
On this day in 1915, the first Zeppelin raid took place over London, although airships had been used since January of that year in raids on the East coast towns of Great Yarmouth, Sherringham and Kings Lynn. In total, there were forty-three air-raids during the war. A total of 162 tons of bombs were dropped and 474 people killed in addition to 1,146 wounded.
The number is paltry compared to the 40,000 who died in London during the Blitz of World War Two but the date marks a page in history, when it became clear to Londoners that war could come to their very doorstep.
These days, war looks very different but the feeling the Londoners woke up to on this day 96 years ago is still with us.
A sobering thought…