Thursday, 7 March 2013

The First Bomb To Be Dropped

I've just finished reading "The Magnificent Spilsbury and the Case of the Brides in theBath"  by Jane Robins, that centres of the many criminal activities of George Smith. There is much to my surprise a "Sheffield connection" which I will have to research more thoroughly.

But the author does mention in the book a little known event in Dover (Kent) that was the first of its kind ever to happen on the British mainland - the dropping of an aerial bomb from an "aircraft" for want of a better word.

The details are as follows


"The raid on Dover on December 24 1914, the first time a bomb was dropped from the air on England, ...

At around 11 in the morning a single German Taube airplane, flown by Lt. Von Prondzynski, crossed the Channel and arrived over Dover . The pilot pulled a bomb from the cockpit floor, and dangling it over the side of his machine apparently aimed it at Dover Castle , a pretty sizeable target. He missed by 400 yards. Instead of hitting the symbolic castle guarding the coast the bomb landed on a kitchen garden on Leyburne Road. The explosion excavated a crater about four feet deep in the plot, and broke a few windows of the nearby rectory of St James’ Church. And it did claim one casualty, the rectory’s gardener Mr Banks, who had been pruning a tree and was knocked to the ground by the blast. Banks was only bruised and battered, and lived to tell the tale, as did the German pilot who veered off back to Flanders and safety.
In a neat piece of historical symmetry Dover would be the last British town to suffer an air raid just before the Armistice in November 1918 ".

A piece of the shell was mounted and is in the Imperial War Museum with the entry as follows

"Fragment of the first bomb dropped on English soil during the First World War. The bomb, which landed near Dover, at 10.45 a.m. on 24th December 1914, was dropped by a single German aeroplane which then went home. Three days before a German aeroplane had made its appearance above Dover and had dropped two bombs which, aimed presumably at some part of the harbour, had fallen harmlessly into the sea. This fragment was presented to King George V by the Anti-Aircraft Corps, Dover. Nearly 9,000 German bombs of a total weight of 280 tons were dropped on British soil in fifty-one airship and fifty-two aeroplane attacks during the First World War. In all 1,412 people were killed and 3,408 others were wounded as a result of these raids, London suffering more than half of the casualties -670 killed and 1,962 injured."

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