• Full title Impressions of the airship raids over London on 8 September and 13 October 1915, as recorded the next day by boys of Princeton Street, Elementary School, Holborn
  • Created 1915
  • Formats Manuscript , Essay
  • Held by British Library
  • Copyright: ©  The copyright status of Add MS 39257-39258 IMPRESSIONS of the airship raids over London by various persons is unknown. Please contact copyright@bl.uk with any information you have regarding this item.
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  • Shelfmark Add MS 39257-39258

Description

English

What were the airship raids?

During the First World War Germany became the first nation to conduct aerial bombings against Great Britain. These were carried out in airships, which were long cylindrical rigid structures filled with gas. The first type of airship constructed was called a Zeppelin after its inventor Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin and these were the main type of airship used during the First World War. 

The boys of Princeton Street Elementary School were aged between 5 and 14. Some of the boys recorded their recollections of the airship raids. Their accounts reveal how unexpected the air raids were and how unprepared Britain was to deal with this new threat. Most of the boys were getting ready for bed or playing out on the street when the Zeppelins arrived, which shows that Londoners had no prior warning of either the attack of 8 September or that of 13 October. The boys expressed both excitement and fear at the sight of the air ships and most went out to inspect the damage once they had left.

Transcript

  1. Transcript

    English

    HOLBORN:
    PRINCETON STREET (B.) SCHOOL.
    BEDFORD ROW, W.C.

    E. Brown

    Second London Air Raid
    October 13th.


    10.12
    10.15
    At half-past nine pm, my a uncle who had only been home from France five hours, and my aunt were talking to my mother. At twenty five minutes to ten my uncle and aunt left, and I sat talking with my mother. After a while I fell asleep. All of a sudden I was awakened by a reverberating roar, like lions when they are hungry. I leapt out of bed like a slice of greased lightning and slipped into my clothes. I thenm heard a sound like a tattoo on a kettle-drum. I lil looked out of a window and saw a searchlight flitting about. Someone shouts, ‘Put your lights out” and I obeyed. My mother and sisters were in the parlour. I went downstairs and looking up I saw an elongated shape not unlike a cigar and of a silver grey in colour There were little splashes of flame around it but none appeared to hit it. After a while I thought I’d like to have a look at a gun.


  2. Transcript

    English

    HOLBORN:
    PRINCETON STREET (B.) SCHOOL.
    BEDFORD ROW, W.C.



    The Air Raid on London Oct. 13th 1915.



    The experiences of boys as related by themselves.





    Class Master A.N. Field

    Head Master J. Bate


  3. Transcript

    English

    HOLBORN:
    PRINCETON STREET (B.) SCHOOL.
    BEDFORD ROW, W.C.


    I went round the first turning on the left and in front of me was a reservoir. Standing on the pavement I could see the gun with short sharp pieces of red flashing from the muzzle. After a time the airship sheered of into a south-westerly direction. I watched it for a while and then I went home to bed. In the morning when I woke up I wished the airships had not come for they took away 3 hours of my sleep. They had done some damage to various theatres along the Strand. At the Strand theatre a friend of mine had a narrow escape. His father was hit with pieces of bomb.

  4. Transcript

    English

    HOLBORN:
    PRINCETON STREET (B.) SCHOOL.
    BEDFORD ROW, W.C.

    I McHenry

    The second London air raid October the 13th


    Last night about twenty minutes too nine, I was astonished to see crowds of women and children going into the Tube in Holborn. They looked like Belgian refugees, and then I guessed what it was for they were expecting an air raid, so they were sending the women and children down there for safety. I then ran as fast as I could to tell my mother, but she did not take any notice. I then went up-stairs, and commenced, to read a book. In a couple of minutes I was so interested in the book, that all thoughts of zeppelins had vanished. I had not been reading more than half an hour when I heard a terrible bang, and the word zeps came back to my mind quicker than it had gone out. I dropped the book, rushed to the window opened it and jumped out into the parrapet. All this was the work of a few seconds. No sooner had I got out when bang – bang two more bombs followed in quick succesion, and then all was silent for a few seconds. Boom – crash – boom, came the answer from our guns, and a hail of lead went sailing skywards, but I am sorry to say that they did not find their destination. I could see gun flashes coming from the British Museum and from the Kingsway, I only just caught a glimpse of the zeppelin in the city direction the search-lights were shining on it, and the shells

  5. Transcript

    English

    HOLBORN:
    PRINCETON STREET (B.) SCHOOL.
    BEDFORD ROW, W.C.

    I McHenry


    were bursting underneath it. Whether it was hit I do not know but all of a sudden It disappeared and fled. I then went down-stairs to see if my mother and the children were alright. I found them In a safe place so I stayed there. After we had been there about one hour a policeman came and told us that we could go up to bed. So we went up-stairs, and stayed up till twelve Oclock. they did did not visit us again like they did some places so we spent the rest of the night in peace.

  6. Transcript

    English

    HOLBORN:
    PRINCETON STREET (B.) SCHOOL.
    BEDFORD ROW, W.C.
    T. Allen


    Second London Air-raid Oct 13th


    Last night, London’s darkness was intense, when I returned home from Goudhurst, Kent at 7.50 o’clock. I went indoors and ate something then, as I was sitting at my ease in an armchair at 9.25 o’clock, I heard a loud bang and, as we all sprang to our feet, my brother Charlie said excitedly “They’re here again”. In my excitement I forgot any possible danger, and ran out into the street; and happening to glance upwards I caught a glimpse of, what looked like to me, a silver cigar. This, in reality was a zeppelin with t a searchlight focussed on it. Soon after the banging had ceased, I went to Chancery Lane and there saw a sight that fill me with horror. In the Strand and Aldwych a large amount of damage was done and people say that lumps of flesh were found sticking to the walls and posts. The reported casualties are forty-two

  7. Transcript

    English

    HOLBORN:
    PRINCETON STREET (B.) SCHOOL.
    BEDFORD ROW, W.C.
    G.A Rist

    The Second London
    Air Raid Oct 13 1915


    Last night at nine thirty pm. The Zeppelines visited London a-gain. I was just having my supper when I heard a knock at the door. When I opened the door in walked my mother and Uncle. S he told me to put my hat and coat on and go for a tin of sardines for their supper. I soon had my hat and coat on. I whent for them. When I came back my mother went for some to do her cold good, About five minutes after afterwards we heard bang! bang! bang! then we heard our guns going off. We rushed out to see what it was. “It was a Zep” our guns were well on it but did not hit it. We were coming from the Mews when we heard shouts of their it is! their it is! Good! Hooray she’s hit! Hooray! Hooray! We were all cheered up when we heard that. Our guns were still going off when we darted indoors to see if my mother had come back. She

  8. Transcript

    English

    HOLBORN:
    PRINCETON STREET (B.) SCHOOL.
    BEDFORD ROW, W.C.


    had not so we went out again. We were looking up to the sky to see if we could see her. All of a sudden we heard a buzzing noise. We looked up and saw her she came from a nothernly do direction. And went right over our [ ] roof into Grays – In – Road. As she went over our roof she was hit in the tail after that she died out of site.

  9. Transcript

    English

    HOLBORN:
    PRINCETON STREET (B.) SCHOOL.
    BEDFORD ROW, W.C.
    J Marriage

    The air raid of Sep 8 th


    On Wednesday night at quarter to eleven I was woke up by my mother who said “Dont be frighten the germans are here”. I jumped out of bed (and my brother fell out) and ran into the front room where my mother was dressing. She said to me go and get your clothes on, but as I was a big light like lighting rose before my eyes and before I knew where I was a mighty explosion and a huge flame lept in front of me. As I expected this I ran into the street and saw many people pointing towards the sky. I ran to see what was the matter and in the sky there was a silvery coloured thing in the shape of a cigar Two powerful searchlights shone on it from end to end. It stood there for about five minutes dropping bombs and going in a circle for about two times and suddenly disapeared into the air. The searchlights looked for it but in vain it couldnot be found.

  10. Transcript

    English

    HOLBORN:
    PRINCETON STREET (B.) SCHOOL.
    BEDFORD ROW, W.C.
    J Marriage


    I then ran in and put my boots on and dare not strike a light as all the lights in street were out expect one. We then walked to East St but their were no firemen there as they had to attend to a bigger fire. We then went to see what this bigger fire was. It happened to be the National Penny bank. The fire soon spread and three shops were alight before the firemen arrived. The flames were terrible and the terrific and as soon as one fire was under control another burst out undone all the firemens work which they worked hard to do. The flames lept across the road and done much damage to George Carters. When the fire was put out they went round to the small fire in East St. A fireman named Green saved seventeen people. He went up again but their were no more people left and was cut off from retreat. The poor man was at the top of the house. To save himself from being burnt to death he jumped to the ground

  11. Transcript

    English

    HOLBORN:
    PRINCETON STREET (B.) SCHOOL.
    BEDFORD ROW, W.C.
    J Marriage


    and died a few days afterwards In Queen’s Square the was a hole five feet deep. The National hosiple [hosipitle] for children with parilysis were screaming with fright for every window was broke I would not have liked to be one of those nurses for the whole world. In Leather Lane there were a wife and two childen killed of a policeman and he has gone silly. A drill hall in Faringdon Road was damaged. The only news we had in the paper was “an air raid one hundred and six casulties. One of the Zepplins was hit as it rocked like a rocking horse for some time and then disappeared in the air

  12. Transcript

    English

    HOLBORN:
    PRINCETON STREET (B.) SCHOOL.
    BEDFORD ROW, W.C.

    Joseph Restick

    The Air Raid of Sep 8th 1915


    I was sitting in our front kitchen when I heard a faint noise. Not very long afterwards there was a loud bang the breaking of glass and the screaming of people. At the same time my mother was getting up the supper, when one of her friends named Mrs Bayes cried out “What’s that” My mother at once put down the plate she had in her hand and picked up my little brother who was sitting on the floor. We then ran to the foot of the kitchen stairs where we were met by all the people in the house, and they said “The Zeppelins are here. When we were quiet we heard some more bang bangs and the crashing of glass. Each one of us were tremberling My little sister was crying because my father was not in Another bang went, soon after this we heard a banging at the hall door A lady in the house named Mrs Ford opened it and she saw a lady with a pram and two children in it. and there was also a police Constable. The constable said “put all your lights out please”! My mother at once put all of our lights out. The lady on the doorstep, said “For Gods sake let me in please” We let her in and

  13. Transcript

    English

    HOLBORN:
    PRINCETON STREET (B.) SCHOOL.
    BEDFORD ROW, W.C.

    Continuation of Air Raid of Set 8 1915


    she said “I have four children at home” Then Mrs Ford said to her. “Where do you live” She turned round and said “Westminster lady.” The noise lasted about twenty minutes After the noise had gone and the Zeppelins were nowhere to be seen my father came home. All of our family were still at the foot of the stairs My grandfather came round and said to us The Penny Bank is on fire My father was going to see it when my sister started crying so he came back and said “what is the matter” “So my mother said because you are going” My father then said It is alright now they have gone Then my mother said you take the two children with you meaning my sister and me, so he took us with him It was a terrible sight The flames of the fire rose to about ten feet The thing what cause this terrible fire was the gas main. the force of the explosion cause it to burst Every where you went you trod on glass The sky was red for houndreds of yards I then beat a retreat and came home. I then had some supper and a few minutes chat then I went to bed It is beleaved that the Zeppelin was hit

  14. Transcript

    English

    HOLBORN:
    PRINCETON STREET (B.) SCHOOL.
    BEDFORD ROW, W.C.

    J. Littenstein

    The Air Raid of September 8th 1915


    It was our Jewish New Year and I was sitting in my aunt’s house reading the “Boy’s Friends”. My sister and my cousin were talking politics. One said the German Navy was afraid to come out, and the other said that Our fleet ought to go and fetch them. This she said with some emphasis on the “our”. “And all went merry as a marriage bell.” Suddenly Bang! Crash! Tinkle! Tinkle! The was a splintering of wood and a crash of falling glass. We all sprang to our feet with surprising alacrity. At other times wild horses could not drag me from the paper I was reading. As it was I was dragged away from it this time. Baa-ang! There was another crash. “Bomb’s and zeppelins” said my aunt. She was cool but the other women were panic-stricken. They gave vent to shrieks and screams that would have done credit to a hyena. I was shivering like a jelly but I soon got over it. There was a pattering of feet and a knock and the boy from upstairs came down. He was a boy scout Edgar Brown by name. My aunt had snatched the baby from the bed in a blanket and had put all the lights but one. “The basement” she said putting out the last light, and we all ran downstairs. Boom! Boom! Boom! The short sharp bark of anti-aircraft guns smote upon our ears. “Those are our guns” said Edgar. “Coming up to have a look” said I. “Righto” said Edgar. We went up to the door and a sight that I shall never forget met my eyes. The “National Penny Bank” was blazing like a bonfire. “Look! Look!” said Edgar “The Bank is afire.” Clang! Clang! Clang! Clang! The incessant ringing of the fire bell came to my ears and a moment later the fire engine came clattering along. The

  15. Transcript

    English

    HOLBORN:
    PRINCETON STREET (B.) SCHOOL.
    BEDFORD ROW, W.C.


    escape was reared against the wall and a fireman ran up the rungs like a monkey running up a tree. The hose was trained on the bank. The orders of the captain of the brigade came faintly to me. There was a dense crowd in front of the blazing mass, and the flames licked up the sides of the bank. Whir-rrrrrr! There was a hum of engines, and looking up we saw the Zeppelin. It was the shape of a huge cigar. The searchlights focussed itself on the monster. Boom! Whiz! a shell went screaming by on its errand of death. The airship darted up into the air and disappeared in the darkness. The firemen meanwhile were doing their level best to quell the blaze. The lurid flames were licking up the sides of the bank hungrily. In vain the little brigade wrestled and fought the flames. Gradually the firemen retreated across to Carter’s Stores. The fortune of the firemen was bad. The reason they retreated was apparently the great heat. Although it was midnight it was as light as day. There were a great many searchlights flitting about now. Another hose was trained on the blaze, and the firemen made a superhuman effort to quell the fire. Sizzle! Sizzle! Siz – zzzzzz! Sizzle! The firemen had trained one of the hoses on the worst part of the blaze. They seemed to have quelled it. There was a roar and the flames blazed up again. The escape had been taken away from the wall by this time. The crowd had by this time reached Richbell Place. My cousin now came to the window. “Look Jack” she said pointing to the Pole Star “isn’t that a Zeppelin’s light. “Silly” said I “that is a star”. The firemen now made another effort and got the fire under hand. The crowd soon dispersed and all was dark and silent as the tomb. “Nice beginning for our new year” I remarked. Next morning I learnt that the casualties were 106.