First Air Raid on Britain

British wartime recruitment poster from 1915 referencing the air raids that started that year
British wartime recruitment poster from 1915 referencing the air raids that started that year

Historical Context

Most people associate the bombing of Britain by the Germans with the 1940-41 Blitz campaign, but during the First World War the Germans had attempted to bomb the UK into submission with the use of air raids by Zeppelin airships. The first air raid took place on January 19, 1915.

The military effect of these raids was negligible, and the technology inaccurate - for instance an air raid bound for London actually hit Hull - but they created a sense of outrage and panic among civilians. On April 1, 1918, the Royal Air Force was formed after an inquiry into the defense of Britain against the air raids.

The inaccuracy and danger of airship raids, coupled with increasingly successful defense against them, led to most of them being replaced with aircraft in 1917. The developments in defense technology were important in the later creation of the ground-controlled interception system that was vital in winning against the Germans in 1940 and 1941.

The last Zeppelin raid took place on August 5, 1918, with attacks on the Midlands; one of the Zeppelins was carrying Peter Strasser, the commander of the Zeppelin force, and it was shot down resulting in his death.

Poster Info


Artist: UK Government
Location published: Norfolk, England, United Kingdom

Source: Wikimedia Commons

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  • 1915-01-19 World War I: 4 people in Norfolk are killed in the 1st German Zeppelin air raid attack on the United Kingdom

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