Zeppelin Fire-Bombs Southend
Proximity to London in peacetime may be a boon, but during WWI it was a curse for Southend, as twice in May 1915 Zeppelin LZ38 raided the town while on its way to and from the capital.
The first raid was on May 10 1915. Zeppelin commander Hauptmann Erich Linnarz decided to drop some of his payload on the seaside town as his airship reached land, one of the bombs aimed at liner The Royal Edward moored off Southend Pier, which unbeknownst to the German officer held P.O.W.s and ‘enemy aliens’.
Having dropped a few bombs the ship moved towards London , but was driven back by anti-aircraft guns at Thames Haven. Linnarz decided to get rid of his remaining incendiaries on Southend . Hundreds of the devices exploded in the town. Extensive damage was done over a wide area: a timber yard burned down; several houses were gutted; and at 120 North Road Mrs Agnes Whitwell was killed in her bed and her husband badly burned fighting the fire.
The raid had later consequences: on May 12 a near riot occurred in the town with German- and Austrian-owned shops attacked; local paper The Southend Standard published a special supplement dedicated to the raid, criticised by the government for the damage to morale it might cause; and on May 26 the same Zeppelin again raided Southend, which could be forgiven for taking it personally.
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