German Air Raids on England Begin (21 January 1915)

The Great War was the first major conflict in which airborne vehicles played a significant role. This included the use of airplanes on the battlefield, but also bombing raids by airships. On January 19th, Germans made the first of many air raids against England itself, beginning with a raid on Norfolk County, causing several deaths and damaging homes and buildings. Although the raids were expected, they still caused considerable panic in England itself.

The unsettling nature of this new type of warfare caused concern as far away as Waterloo County, Canada. On January 21st, the Waterloo Chronicle-Telegraph reported on the raid with mild sensationalism. The raids were presented as direct attempts on the lives of the royal family, who kept a county residence in one of the targeted areas: “German aircraft made their long-threatened raid on England last night and attempted to blow up with bombs the King’s royal residence in Sandringham, County Norfolk.” In fact, the raids were supposed to take place much farther north, but were diverted due to poor weather conditions.

(“Air Raid at Last,” Waterloo Chronicle-Telegraph, 21 January 1915; Christopher Cole and E. F. Cheeseman, The Air Defence of Great Britain, 1914-1918 (London: Putnam, 1984); “A Target Such as Our British Airmen Aim at When They Make a Raid Upon a German Zeppelin Shed,” Elmira Signet, 21 January 1915.)