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Post Info TOPIC: The Dolphin Tavern and WWI German Air Raids on London
Rob


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The Dolphin Tavern and WWI German Air Raids on London
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Today I made the journey over to Holborn to visit The Dolphin Tavern, which, on the night of 9th September 1917, was hit by a high explosive bomb dropped from KapitanLeutnant Mathy in Zeppelin L13. Three men were killed, one of them, Fireman Green, dying of burns while trying to put fires out in nearby houses. The tavern was rebuilt and is still open serving a decent selection of beers and food (among other alcohol but I wasn't paying attention to those!). Hanging on the wall is a clock which stopped when the bomb hit and was later found in the wreckage. Afterwards I went to the IWM Museum to see the WWI Zeppelin and anti-aircraft exhibits.

Me outside The Dolphin Tavern

The clock

Unfortunately you can't see the photograph well but it shows The Dolphin after the bomb hit, with the windows smashed and the entrance to the pub blown out, looks very surreal especially as I walk past many of these street corner style pubs every day. The writing says;

'THE DOLPHIN TAVERN - hit by an H.E. Bomb dropped by Zepp L.13. on the 9th of Sept 1915. 3 men were killed. The old clock was recovered with the hands stopped at 10.40 p.m. - the time the tavern was hit.'

French 75mm field gun. These were used on lorries by the French and British for anti-aircraft work on a different mounting, on the night The Dolphin was hit the newly arrived motorised 75mm was used by the RNAS to drive away Zeppelin L15 which was attacking the nearby Inns of Court.

British one pounder anti aircraft gun mark two, the first gun fired in the defence of London. Although a naval design, this was issued to the anti-aircraft station at Gresham College. On the night The Dolphin was bombed, it shot at (and missed) Zeppelin L13 (which bombed The Dolphin). The officer in charge of the gun that night later became the first secretary and curator of the IWM.

Sopwith Camel 2F1, the type of Camel developed by the RNAS to defend the fleet against Zeppelins, which shot down Zeppelin L53 on 11th August 1918, the last German airship to be shot down in WWI, piloted by Flight Sub-Lieutenant Stuart Douglas Culley.

Be2c that flew with Home Defence Squadrons in WWI

British 13 pounder field gun. Like the French 75mm it was used as an AA gun using different types of shell, mounted on the back of lorries. They became widely available when they were replaced by the 18 pounder, and along with the 75mm, one pounder and 3 inch AA gun they were the standard anti-aircraft guns for the UK armed forces in WWI.

Observation car from Zeppelin LZ90 which fell off it on the night of 2/3 September 1916 (the same night William Leefe Robinson VC shot down Schutte-Lanz SL11). These were used by Zeppelins to lower an airman thousands of feet below a Zeppelin via cable to see beneath clouds while the Zeppelin remained hidden. When it fell off LZ90, it was being lowered unmanned when the winch went out of control.

Control panel from Zeppelin L33, shot down in Essex in the early hours of 24th September 1916

Triangular girder section from a Zeppelin brought down over England (there were no further details unfortunately). The two small bomb like objects are Ranken explosive darts, containing high explosive, phosphorous and black powder which were designed to ignite when the dart penetrates the Zeppelin's skin. The tail has spring loaded vanes which opened and lock into position to make sure the bomb stuck into the Zeppelins fabric

Postcards showing Schutte-Lanz SL11 being shot down by William Leefe Robinson VC and a signed photograph of him. The fuel gauge on the left is from SL11 too. The Maxim MG08 machine gun is from Zeppelin L15 which chucked it out to gain height after being damaged by AA fire on 31st March 1916, however it later came down in the sea north of Margate.

Incendiary bomb dropped by Zeppelin LZ38 (for those wondering, LZ denotes a Zeppelin used by the German Army, and L by the Navy) on London during the first airship raid on London, 31st May 1915.

Large model of Zeppelin L33 hanging from the roof. L33 came down gently in Essex just after 1am on 24th September 1916 after being damaged by AA fire after a raid on London. When it came down the commander of the Zeppelin tried to warning the inhabitants of nearby cottages that he was going to set it on fire, however one house didn't answer the door, deciding to hide in a cupboard instead.

 When they tried to set fire to the Zeppelin, there was so little gas left which had been leaking out since hit by AA fire, apparently all it managed to burn was the envelope of the Zeppelin and singe the fur of a white terrier dog sniffing around!

 At the Royal Air Force Museum Hendon there is the gondola car of British airship R33, which entire structure and gondola design was a copy of L33.

 Hope the photos are of interest, cheers, Rob



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Rob

 

  Hellobiggrin, and thanks a million for posting these photos, I am very interested in the Zeppelins. And the information you provided on the Dolphin Tavern is quite interesting as well.All the Best

Tim



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The story of how the observation car of the LZ-90 came to be lost (and thus retrieved for the IWM) may be even more fascinating than it simply falling off the zeppelin, as it is likely to be the subject of this tale:

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=84441

In his book "Zeppelins of World War I", Wilbur Cross writes about an unusual incident involving an observer riding in a zeppelin's sub-cloud car. In this case, the zeppelin was damaged during a raid over England. The winch mechanism used to raise and lower the sub-cloud car was jammed leaving the observer dangling below. On its homeward journey the aircraft was unable to maintain altitude. Despite jettisoning all expendable equipment, the aircraft continued to sink closer to the earth. Because it weighed nearly a half ton (including cable, winch, and observer), the decision was made to jettison the sub-cloud car. Via the telephone connection, the observer was told that the zeppelin would be maneuvered close enough to the ground to set the car down. As soon as the car touched earth, the observer was to notify the zeppelin above and the cable would be cut. The landing was hard, but the observer was able to get clear and the cable was cut.

The observer found himself somewhere in the English countryside. Holing up at night and skirting villages, the fellow was at large unknown to British authorities. After approximately two months, he was spotted by a civilian patrol and arrested in Sussex. He spent the rest of the war as a POW.


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This observer clearly had a more considerate captain than the one in the film Hell's Angels.

If you remember, the captain (who is covered in duelling scars and almost certainly has a monocle) cuts through the cable, presumably with his sabre, without having the common decency to mention the fact.

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I love Hell's Angels! Actually, most of it is bobbins, with more corn than an EU food mountain, but the flying sequences are fantastic, and it has the best Great War zeppelin sequence ever - not that the field is crowded...

It's even better than a sabre - the captain very gravely takes a set of wirecutters from a crewman who can't bring himself to cut the cable and does the dread deed himself. It then gets even more mad as the zeppelin crew, in a desperate attempt to lighten their vessel and gain height over the pursuing British fighters, sacrifice themselves by stepping through the bomb-bay doors one by one! All in vain, as it cops its whack in the end anyway.

I bunged a load of screengrabs over on this site...
http://www.airshipmodeler.com/forums/showthread.php?t=176

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Next Wednesday the lunch-time Holborn walk will be visting WW1 related sites, including the Dolphin. More information here: http://inholborn.org/

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Roger. Unfortunately Wiber Cross is sometimes a little cavalier in his book over detail. The cloud car winch did jam on more than one airship and the problem was more the fuel consuming drag that would be caused attempting to fly home with the cloud car dangling below with all that cable. This would also give problems in climbing rapidly if attacked. For this reason a quick release mechanism existed and the commander was authorised to drop the car and observer rather than risk his ship. On one occasion the commander did risk it and flew home with the cloud car dangling far below. On another the 'ship came down gradually and on touching down the observer baled out and legged it, the quick release switch was thrown (no need to cut the cable) and all that steel cable came whistling down [probably the real cause of some of the damage to the car and the reason the observer got clear PDQ].

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Well a most enjoyable walk around four WW1 bomb sites in the Holborn area of London.  In order (although not chronological):

- Stone Buildings, Lincoln's Inn (off Chancery Lane).  A brass disc in the road opposite the Inns of Court & City Yeomanry (TA) building marks where a bomb fell on 18 December 1917.  The pock marks to the buildings made from the blast and shrapnel are still highly visable, having not been repaired.

- The Dolphin Tavern, Lamb's Conduit Passage.  As per the previous entries although it was suggested that the raid was on 8 September 1915: the bomb being one of string dropped at the same time as that which hit the next site.

- Queen Square Gardens.  Brass plaque in the grass at the north end of the gardens.  No injuries sustained or damage to property.

- Bedford Hotel, Southampton Row. Wall plaque to air raid on 24 September 1917.  Several dead and wounded.

The raids in 1917 were said to have been made by aeroplanes (Gotha) rather than airships.

Well worth spending the 40 minutes or so to do this trail should you be in London.  No doubt there are other WW1 air raid sites in London as well... and Harry Ricardo's house (of landship engine fame) is not far away at 13 Bedford Square, now complete with 'Blue Plaque'.

-- Edited by Runflat at 19:51, 2008-10-08

-- Edited by Runflat at 19:55, 2008-10-08

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Not exactly Holborn, but there's also a building in the nearby Farringdon Road with  a cast iron plaque commemorating its 1917 rebuilding after an airship raid in 1915. Unfortunately when I tried to confirm the dates last week the plaque seemed to have gone (hopefully for renovation), so all there is is a (modern) sign giving the address as "Zeppelin House".






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It seems there is a fairly recent book by Neil Hanson called First Blitz that describes the various raids on London and the SE and goes on to claim that Germany planned to "raze London and Paris to the ground" in 1918 using a device called the Elektron Bomb.

I think he might be exaggerating a little as regards the latter part, but there's a review here http://blackmorehistory.blogspot.com/2008/09/book-review-first-blitz.html that has links to other reviews and related material.

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I haven't read the book but -

The Elektron bomb sounds like something Ming the Mercyless (or some other early space opera character) would use. In fact it was a small incendary bomb, difficult for the  fire fighters of the time to exstinguish. Using special racks a Gotha or Friedrichshafen could carry an awful lot of them, more if the gunner and his gun was left behind. The idea was to saturate a relatively small area of the centre of London or Paris with these, overwhelm the fire fighters and start a firestorm. Given the right weather conditions, an area that was suitably flammable and  poor defences this was just about feasible ( the ARP and fire brigade capabilities in WW1 were much inferior to WW2). The German Army High Command approved the scheme and the bombers for the first wave were bombed up and ready to go (to London) when the scheme was called off at the last minute on the direct orders of the Kaiser himself. His reasons have remained unknown but it seems possible that he had, correctly, realised that many German cities were more vunerable to this type of attack.

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There is a brief mention in my father's memoirs of his mother witnessing a Zeppelin being shot down over Potter's Bar during the Great War.

Gwyn

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Re: the Farringdon Road Plaque

The placque has been replaced. It notes the Zeppelin raid as being on the 8th September 1915 - which I think means the bombs were dropped by L13 . Apparently the building was 'completely destroyed' but there is no mention of any casualties.

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When I was a kid I had a very elderly relative-by-marriage who lived in Hartlepool. She claimed to have seen the German Fleet shelling the town as part of the attempt to lure the Grand Fleet into the Norh Sea, and to have seen a Zeppelin shot down, which I take to be this incident: http://portcities.hartlepool.gov.uk/server.php?show=ConNarrative.110&chapterId=276

She said that when it became obvious that the craft was in difficulties, the crowds were shouting for the crew to jump, but not in a caring way, and cheering when they did so. Understandable in the circumstances.

-- Edited by James H at 11:30, 2008-10-18

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My Grandmother ran the pub when the bomb hit.



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There is a site iancastle.zeppwlin.co.uk that deals with all the air raids on the UK during WW I. see also the site the great war forum. archive.org has all 6 volumes of "War in the Air" the RAF official history. I hope this of some use.

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In archive.org there is supposedly the book "The Defense of London 1915-1918" which is by an officer who commanded some of the AA units around London. It has a quite funny account of him chasing after the L13 during the raid the pub was hit.

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