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Chris_Baker

Air raid on Etaples, 19 May 1918

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On 19 May 1918, an enemy air raid took place over Etaples, between 10.30pm and 1am next day.

Shortly before midnight, two bombs fell in the camp of the No 1 (1st Life Guards) Battalion of the Guards Machine Gun Regiment. It killed no fewer than 42 soldiers, and wounded 83. (All are named in the unit's war diary). The victims are buried - no surprise here - in Etaples Military Cemetery.

I wonder, does anyone know of other details of this raid. Presumably other bombs fell. Where, and to what effect? Anyone know?

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Not directly related to that specific incident, Chris, but my little book "The British Base Camp at Etaples 1914-1918" says that it wasn't an isolated incident:

During the latter part of 1917, German aeroplanes attacked Etaples camp complex and occasionally damaged the railway lines and rolling stock. By early 1918, the bombing had become more intense and the bombs were powerful enough to inflict serious damage on the River Canche railway viaduct.

It then goes on to mention one specific raid 31st May, 1918, and concludes:

These and other air-raids caused loss of life and considerable material damage in the vicinity of the town and camp but apart from the negative effect on morale, they had little irrepairable effect on the funtioning of the base or communications. Anti-aircraft units were posted in the area and buildings were reinforced with sandbags but the real threat from aerial bombardment receded as 1918 progressed....."

Tom

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Casualties of the German Air Service states that a pilot, Ltn,d.R. Ernst Schmitz of BG6 [his squadron] was taken as a PoW at Etaples on this day, and that he died of his wounds.

Two other PoWs (again both from BG6), captured alive were:

Ltn MaxZiervogel (observer)

Obltn Kurt Jentzen (observer)

BG 6 is Bogohl 6 and was, I'm sure, a Gotha (3 crew, and later 4 crew) squadron.

That might help tie down some more info.....

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Chris, having looked more closely at the dates, I am sure that this was the last of the 'retaliation raids' by the German Air Services.

On the 18th May, 55 Sqn RAF bombed Koln in a daring daylight raid. Over 40 German people were killed and over 100 injured. According to Henshawe, "the impact of the [55sqn raid] reverberated along the Rhineland which suddenly felt itself exposed and vulnerable.... After this pariticular raid, the German government came under great pressure to reduce its own strategic bombing in the hope of a reciprocal gesture."

You'll notice the word "pressure." It did not stop, however, the large Gotha raids carried out, in revenge, on London on the 20th May - nor the bombing raid on Etaples on the 19th May in which you are interested.

The Gemans suffered very heavy losses, of experienced crews and aircraft in this 48 hour period, from which the bomber squadrons never fully recovered.

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Chris

I have 7 men in the Labour Corps who are buried in Etaples Military Cemetery between 19 May and 22 May 1918 (kia, dow or air raid). I'll check the diaries and let you know anything of interest.

Incidentally there is also one man shown as killed in an air raid on 1 June 1918 and buried in the cemetery.

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You might also like to look at this French website. My French, I am ashamed to say, is not very good. But if I understand this correctly, 66 soldiers were killed when a bomb fell on No1 Canadian Hospital at Etaples.

Two civilians were also killed and are on the memorial

http://onac62.chez.tiscali.fr/memoire/Alphabet/E/etaples.htm

Look near the top of the page where is says "Lieux de mémoire" and you'll see the word 'Gotha.' It's that line that is relevant to you.

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Chris

Sorry - No mention of the air raid in any of the Diaries we have looked at!

Have you checked the Etaples Base: Commandant's Diary (WO 95/4027)? ave not looked at this one yet so do not know if it has anything of interest.

As a matter of information the two Labour Corps men I can positively identify as killed in air raids and buried in Etaples Military Cemetery are:

PATERSON, Private, ROBERT, 290992. 7th Bn. Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) transf. to (447677) 842nd Coy. Labour Corps. Killed in enemy air raid 21st May 1918. Age 32. Son of William and Isabella Paterson; husband of Bridget F. Paterson, of 6, Sligo St., Lumphinnans, Fifeshire. Born at Cowdenbeath, Fifeshire. LXV. D. 15.

and

PATERSON, Private, ALEXANDER THOMAS, S/9446. 1st Bn. Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) transf. to (442019) 939th Area Employment Coy. Labour Corps. Died of wounds, received in enemy air raid, 1st June 1918. Age 24. Son of Mrs. S. Paterson, of 69, Shakespeare St., Roath Park, Cardiff. Born at Cardiff. LXVII. E. 18.

Of course the latter may have been wounded on 21 May. I have not checked for either man's service record.

Odd that they have the same surnames!

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I seem to recall Vera Brittain recording one such air raid in one of her books. I'll have a furgle round!! :ph34r:

Cannot find it in "A Life", and my Testament of Youth has no index. Anyone else?

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The War Diary of the 7th Canadian Stationary Hospital contains the following:

"May 20 Mon.

Last night, about 10:30., we had a disastrous air raid as a result of which we lost two men (one killed and the other died of wounds) and had one man wounded and also the O. C. Major E. V. Hogan, wounded. Enemy aircraft suddenly were heard, and began dropping bombs without our having received warning. Practically the entire Etaples hospital area was subjected to an aerial bombardment for fully an hour, after which the raiders departed, returning again some time after midnight, and droped more bombs. They also employed machine guns. It is unofficially estimated that the total casualties in the Etaples area were about one thousand. Casualties were numerous in the staffs of several of the hospitals, and certain patients were also casuals. --- Bright moonlight last night. The anti-aircraft fire appeared to be feeble."

The 1st Canadian General Hospital has an even more detailed entry, but I am too lazy to transcribe it. Also the diaries of several Canadian base depots mention the raid, including the appearance of aircraft over the camp earlier in the week.

This is an excellent illustration of how invaluable are these on-line resources. If a question like this comes up, one merely browses about for ten minutes.

Sorry to sound smug.

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Thank you for your replies so far. All helps build up a picture.

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A fairly minor point with respect to the raid is that the attacking aircraft from Bogohl 6 may have been AEGs, and not Gothas. According to "Reconnaisance and Bomber Aircraft of the 1914-1918 War" the Bogohls were equipped with G type aircraft as follows:

Bogohl 1 = Friedrichshafens

Bogohl 2 = Friedrichshafens

Bogohl 3 = Gothas (a double size unit with 6, rather than the usual 3 staffeln)

Bogohl 4 = AEGs

Bogohl 5 = Friedrichshafens and Gothas

Bogohl 6 = AEGs

Bogohl 7 = AEGs.

I think it was common practice to refer to all German multi-engined aircraft as 'Gothas', in the way that the Germans tended to call all British pusher types 'Vickers'.

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This 7 June 1918 news clipping may refer to the Etaples incident or a similar one at Doullens a week or so later.

post-25-1076722341.jpg

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I have the Memorial Scroll to Private James Sime Canadian Army Medical Corps who was killed in the raid of 19th May. The War Diary of No 1 Canadian General Hospital (WO95 4093) gives a good description of the raid. Sime was one of 51 other rank casualties.

Cheers

Andrew

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On a visit to Etaples I happened across a row of graves from the 19th May, some of whom were Canadian medical personnel. I was intrigued at the description on the grave of a nursing sister which said "Killed in Action" so I took a couple of pics meaning to try and find out more. I hope it is appropriate to post the following on here:

BelgiumOct03%20071.JPG

BelgiumOct03%20072.JPG

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Shortly before midnight, two bombs fell in the camp of the No 1 (1st Life Guards) Battalion of the Guards Machine Gun Regiment. It killed no fewer than 42 soldiers, and wounded 83. (All are named in the unit's war diary). The victims are buried - no surprise here - in Etaples Military Cemetery.

Thanks for this post Chris; I just bought a Memorial Plaque to a 1/Life Guards Trooper who turned out to be killed in this raid. Thanks again for the info

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I resurrect this thread to point out that the National Film Board of Canada has a project going to digitize its Great War material. There are a few dozen clips available at their web site here:

http://www.nfb.ca/ww1/

One of the clips is the aftermath of an air raid at a Canadian hospital in May,1918. It seems obvious this must be the Etaples incident. The film is mostly shots of the funeral services.

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A member of my family - Henry Lenton Spendlove, 1st Life Guards, was one of the men killed in the raid.

Ann

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came across this when researching family tree

post-98474-0-77216700-1446930242_thumb.j

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War in the Air Volume VI has account of this raid. its online at archive.org. My notes have 182 KIA, 643 WIA and 10 MIA.

The Women's section of this site I believe has some mention of it somewhere.

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From The National Archives WO95/3990:

20.05.18
Etaples bombed: Received telephone message from A/Principal Matron, Etaples, saying that the Etaples hospitals had been severely bombed during the night. One Sister (Nursing Sister K. Macdonald, CAMC) had been killed and 7 wounded at No.1 Canadian General Hospital, also many patients and personnel. At No.7 Canadian General Hospital there were no casualties among the nursing staff but 3 MOs were wounded and some patients killed. The Nurses’ Club was wrecked but the two BRCS workers were not hurt. At No.26 General Hospital there were 2 minor casualties among the nursing staff – Miss Marshall, VAD slightly wounded on the head and admitted to hospital, and Miss Draper, VAD slightly wounded in the wrist. One patient only was killed in this unit. Part of the Sisters’ quarters were wrecked and one or two of the rooms nearest the railway siding are unfit for use. There were no casualties among the nursing staff at No.24 General Hospital. This unit took in a large number of casualties from the Infantry Base Depot and the Household Cavalry Camp. At No.46 Stationary Hospital one VAD, Miss W. A. Brampton, was somewhat shell-shocked. A number of patients were killed and wounded. At No.56 General Hospital there were no casualties among the nursing staff but some amongst patients and personnel. Nos. 35, 37, 4 and 2 Ambulance Trains were in the siding at the time and were damaged, the only casualty amongst nursing staff being S/Nurse M. de H. Smith, slightly wounded above the eye. The Matron-in-Chief, CEF, the Matron-in-Chief, QAIMNS War Office, and DGMS were informed of all casualties.

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