January 19, 1915: The First Zeppelin Raid on Great Britain, and The Battle of Jassin

A bit pressed for time this morning, so I merely wished to draw attention to posts made (respectively) by history.com, and wikipedia.

During World War I, Britain suffers its first casualties from an air attack when two German zeppelins drop bombs on Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn on the eastern coast of England.

The zeppelin, a motor-driven rigid airship, was developed by German inventor Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin in 1900. Although a French inventor had built a power-driven airship several decades before, the zeppelin’s rigid dirigible, with its steel framework, was by far the largest airship ever constructed. However, in the case of the zeppelin, size was exchanged for safety, as the heavy steel-framed airships were vulnerable to explosion because they had to be lifted by highly flammable hydrogen gas instead of non-flammable helium gas.

In January 1915, Germany employed three zeppelins, the L.3, the L.4, and the L.6, in a two-day bombing mission against Britain. The L.6 turned back after encountering mechanical problems, but the other two zeppelins succeeded in dropping their bombs on English coastal towns.

Itv has a great little article with photographs of the damage the raid caused.

. . .

The Battle of Jassin (also known as the Battle of Yasin and the Battle of Jassini)[1] was a World War I battle that took place on 18– 19 January 1915 at Jassin on the German East African side of the border with British East Africa between a German Schutztruppe force and British and Indian troops. Jassin had been occupied by the British in order to secure the border between British East Africa and German territory, but was weakly defended by four companies of Indian troops—numbering a little over 300 men.

The German commander, Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck, decided to attack Jassin in order to prevent further danger to Tanga, which lay more than 50 kilometres to the south and had previously been successfully defended against a British attack. Nine companies of Schutztruppe with European officers were gathered for the assault.

Immediately after the British force surrendered, British Captains Hanson and Turner were taken to see Lettow-Vorbeck. He congratulated them on their defence of the town before releasing them on the promise they would play no further part in the war.

Although the British force surrendered, Lettow-Vorbeck realised that the level of German losses of officers and ammunition meant that he could rarely afford confrontation on such a large scale and would need to make use of guerrilla warfare instead—he turned his attention away from seeking decisive battle against the British, concentrating instead on operations against the Uganda Railway.[2] The British response was to concentrate their forces to reduce their risks and make defense easier.

For greater details, see a post by Bishop and Dobold.

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