Lancashire At War.co.uk

Exploring the hidden history of War sites in Lancashire

World War One Zeppelin Attacks

Holcombe Village - near Ramsbottom, Lancashire. Above Left: The bomb damage to the Post Office. Above Right: The same building today. Amazingly, despite being sandblasted and having 100 years of weather, you can still see the bomb damage today (below).

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It never ceases to amaze me that almost 100 years ago, a Zeppelin flew from Germany and bombed Lancashire villages and towns! One night in September 1916 a zeppelin flew over Todmordon, Bacup, Rawtenstall, Ramsbottom, Tottington, Bolton and Blackburn. Dropping bombs and incendiaries as it went along. In April 1918 a second zeppelin dropped bombs on Wigan and Radcliffe.

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Most of the information on these Zeppelin attacks came from the book "Zeppelins over Lancashire" by Peter J. C. Smith (ISBN 1 85216 066 7). It is a fascinating book with lots of information and photos and costs only £4.50 from most libraries around Bury and beyond.

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The zeppelin attack also damaged the Shoulder of Mutton pub and the Primary school - Holcombe Emmanuel (below). Though any damage here is much more difficult to spot.  

The 1916 attack must have really scared local people who felt they were so far from the war. A huge airship (179 metres long) flying over their houses at night - dropping bombs, including incendiaries, manned by soldiers armed with machine guns! Below is one of the incendiary bombs that is now housed in the Rawtenstall Museum.

The attack in 1916 damaged the East Lancs railway at Irwell Vale, before dropping five bombs in Holcombe Village. There were no casualties. It dropped a couple of bombs in Ramsbottom before passing over Holcombe Brook and Greenmount. An incendiary bomb damaged a cottage in Greenmount Village. The zeppelin then headed for Bolton where it dropped further bombs and incendiaries, most of which did little damage. Until it reached the town centre and five bombs killing thirteen people and seriously injuring nine more - worst hit was Kirk Street. Further bombs near the Town Hall did little damage. The airship passed over Blackburn and then headed for the coast passing near Whitby (dropping only one last bomb on the way).

Above propaganda poster and illustration of an L21 Zeppelin courtesy of Wikipedia

 

More details and photos to come on the 1916 strike on Bolton and the 1918 strike on Wigan and Radcliffe.