Tag Archives: Aerial warfare

Arthur Linfoot occasionally wrote about Zeppelin raids and other airborne fighting around the UK.

15 March 1918; Friday

Up about 6.30. On duty all day. Finished about 5 o’clock. Fine day but rather cold. Heard that Zeppelins had once more visited the north-east coast1. Had walk at night and glanced in at the picture show in the next village but didn’t stay. Had talk at night with Wood and Harvey on the war and things generally.

  1. On 13 March 1918 three Zeppelins set out to raid the North-East but only one of the three reached England, bombing Hartlepool. The bombs killed eight people, and Sgt Pilot Arthur John Joyce (9935) was killed when he flew his FE2b fighter into Pontop Pike near Dipton, County Durham. The latter incident may have been unconnected to the Zeppelin raid; contemporary accounts record only unknown reasons for the crash. 

28 June 1917; Thursday

German aeroplanes dropped 5 bombs on aerodrome about 3 o’clock. Up at 7 o’clock. Felt pretty tired all day. Not much to do. My afternoon on. Wrote long letter home and enclosed photo group. Heard of another air raid on London1. Had walk round the town with Driver and learned bit French. Played chess with Driver until 10.30.

  1. “Another air raid on London”: Possibly the raid of 13 June 1917, during which 13 Gothas bombed London and killed 162 civilians, the highest death toll of any air raid during the war. 

30 November 1916; Thursday

Up at 7. Parade at 7.25 for a double1. Hard work. Parade 9.15 for physical drill and afterwards short route march. Off in the afternoon. Walked into Doullens with Holman. Had 2 eggs for tea. Bought tea cosy for Mother. Heard of Air Raid and 2 Zeppelins brought down. One near Durham2.

  1. “Double”, if correct, would mean “double march”, ie a run; there appear to have been sporadic attempts to improve the men’s fitness when not in the line. 

  2. The Zeppelin brought down “near Durham” may have been L34, shot down near Hartlepool, about 20 miles from Durham, on 27 November by Second Lieutenant I. V. Pyott, flying a B.E. 2C aircraft of C flight 36 Squadron based at Seaton Carew aerodrome. 

10 November 1916; Friday

Up at 6 o’clock. Cleaned up place, shaved and went off duty at 8 o’clock. Slept most of the day. Duggins not well. On duty at 8 o’clock at night. Germans counter-attacked in the morning. Our guns smashed them up. News that the Germans have been driven back 12 miles by the Roumanians, that the Russians and Italians have advanced and that the French have captured some forts at Verdun. Rumours of air raid at London.

3 October 1916; Tuesday

Kept busy all day. Another bombing again after dinner and 2 stretcher cases and two walking cases through it. Paid at 4 o’clock. A bit of a commotion through Billy Truman having got bed wet and a man upstairs having a touch of diphtheria.

Another Zeppelin brought down near London1.

  1. “Zeppelin brought down”: This probably refers to the destruction, on the night of 1-2 October 1916, of Zeppelin L31, which was shot down by an aircraft from No. 39 Squadron and crashed near Potters Bar, killing its entire crew of 19 including its very experienced captain, Heinrich Mathy. L31 had previously taken part in the raid on London of 23-24 September (noted by ALL in his diary entry of 26 September) during which L32 and L33 had been shot down.  

27 September 1916; Wednesday

Busy all day. Not feeling very well. An observation balloon brought down near us. Had short walk at night with Bascombe and Barburn† after 7.30. Usual day’s work. Our team playing football against Black Watch won 1 – 0.

Received news of Zeppelin raid on north east coast1.

  1. Zeppelin raid: This was actually part of the same raid as ALL had noted the previous day; the four Zeppelins which attacked London on the night of 23-24 September (two of which had been brought down as noted by ALL) were actually part of a larger group of 12 Zeppelins, the others targeting different parts of the UK, including the North-East. See also German strategic bombing during World War I at Wikipedia. 

26 September 1916; Tuesday

Up at 6.45. At work as usual. My afternoon off. Went over to Bailleul with Harvey. Our team playing football against M.A.C. and lost 1 – 0. At the Merry Mauves1.

Received news of Zeppelin raid and 2 brought down2.

  1. “Merry Mauves”: The soldiers’ revue first mentioned on 22 September

  2. Zeppelin raid: On the night of 23 September 1916, a group of four Zeppelins comprising L31, L32, L33 and L34 staged a raid on London and the surrounding counties. Two of these, L32 and L33, were shot down, the former near Billericay with the loss of all hands. The latter crash landed at at New Hall Farm, Little Wigborough; the crew survived and were taken prisoner. L33 was not completely destroyed and was used to inform the design of British airships R33 and R34. See also List of Zeppelins at Wikipedia. 

7 September 1916; Thursday

Up at 6.30. Went to the C.C.S. and had tooth stopped. Fine day. Called at Y.M. in Bailleul and looked at some papers. Went over to the house at the top of the village with Duggins and had some supper. Running short of cash and Wood had to dig us out.

Heard that the Zeppelin1 was brought down by an airman named Robinson23 who had been presented with the V.C.

  1. “Zeppelin”: Continuing the story begun in the previous day’s diary entry

  2. Lt. William Leefe Robinson of the Royal Flying Corps (as it still was) was the first British pilot to shoot down a German airship over Britain during the First World War and was indeed given the V.C. for this act. He was himself shot down in 1917 in France by one of the Red Baron group, and was thought dead for around 2 months until a letter arrived from him at a PoW camp. He was repatriated in 1918 but died of influenza on 31 December 1918. 

  3. A similar incident is recorded on 7 June 1915 when Sub-Lt. Reginald A J Warneford RNAS brought down a Zeppelin over Ghent in Belgium by bombing it in the air. 

2 May 1916; Tuesday

Got up about 5.40. Slept a bit before breakfast. Wrote letters and didn’t go on parade. Received letter from Don. Paraded in the afternoon and received arm Red Cross. Went out at night. Sent parcel1 home, had hair cut and did a few things. Returned to barracks early with Green.

Zepp. Raid2.

Turned out shortly after lights out. Had to go to Cinderhill† police station. Stayed until 4 o’clock and listened to the men and policemen talking.

  1. The parcel would have contained any possessions not allowed in France (except the Diary!). 

  2. According to The Diary of the Great War at the web site of the Western Front Association, five Zeppelins (including L20 and LZ98) raided Yorkshire, Northumberland, and Scotland on 2 May 1916: about 100 bombs dropped. 9 killed, 30 injured.