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The London Gotha and Giant Raids


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#1 Aspern

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 09:56 PM

Back in 2008 my book, London 1914-1917: The Zeppelin Menace, was well-received by users of this forum. Some of you may therefore be interested to know that the follow-up, London 1917-18: The Bomber Blitz has just been published by Osprey Publishing.

It follows the same format as before, with plenty of photos, four original colour plates and includes colour maps of 10 of the Gotha and Giant bomber raids - with information painstakingly complied from the London Fire Brigade and Metropolitan Police reports.

Hope you find it interesting!

Regards

Ian Castle

#2 RobL

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 10:16 PM

Great news, look forward to picking up a copy

#3 12th East Surrey

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Posted 24 January 2011 - 07:49 PM

Ian, we look forward to this. I shall pick up sa copy for the museum library.

#4 TEW

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 01:43 AM

Ian
Can I ask if you covered the raid on London of 7th July 1917. 20 enemy aircraft killing 37?

If so which volume?.
Thanks
TEW

#5 Aspern

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 05:30 PM

Ian
Can I ask if you covered the raid on London of 7th July 1917. 20 enemy aircraft killing 37?

If so which volume?.
Thanks
TEW


Hi TEW

Yes, I can confirm that the 7th July raid is covered in London 1917-18: The Bomber Blitz (Osprey Campaign No. 227). I have included a map in the book that indicates where 72 of the 81 bombs recorded that day fell,

This second book covers all the raids by Gotha and 'Giant' aircraft while the first book focuses on the London Zeppelin raids.

Hope that helps

Regards

Ian

#6 TEW

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 09:09 PM

Ian
I'm now wishing I contacted you before. My Great Grandfather's business was hit on 7/7/17. I have an album showing damage to the building, inside, front & rear.

The album states the property was hit because it was next to the HAC ground in Chiswell Street which had been targeted. I always thought it unlikley the Gothas targeted in this way, Could they calculate wind speed etc given the height?? Or as I suspect just coincidence and bad luck.
TEW

#7 Aspern

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 09:57 AM

Ian
I'm now wishing I contacted you before. My Great Grandfather's business was hit on 7/7/17. I have an album showing damage to the building, inside, front & rear.

The album states the property was hit because it was next to the HAC ground in Chiswell Street which had been targeted. I always thought it unlikley the Gothas targeted in this way, Could they calculate wind speed etc given the height?? Or as I suspect just coincidence and bad luck.
TEW


Hi TEW

Now that is really interested. I would be really keen to see copies/scans of any photos you have of the damage to your Gt. Grandfather's business in Chiswell Street.

According to my records two bombs exploded in Chiswell Street at No. 89 (a confectioner) and No. 4 (E.W. Whiteaway & Co. - Packers), which also caused damage to other properties nearby. There were no orders to target specific buildings in the raid - it was a general target of the City of London. The grouping of the bombs shown on the map in my book shows that Chiswell Street was pretty close to the centre of all the bombs dropped that day. Interestingly there is an aerial photo in my book taken during the raid of 7 July which actually shows smoke billowing from burning buildings in Chiswell Street.

If it is possible I would like to know what was your Gt. Grandfather's business - and it would be great if I could see some of the photos - perhaps by PM?

Best wishes

Ian

#8 Silly Moustache

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 10:40 PM

To Ian Castle,
I am currently researching my grandfather who died in London and btained his death certfcate which revealed that his death - on 13th June 1917 was due to "decapitation caused by bombs dropped by enemy airmen" He was in his ffce in 65 Fenchurch Street and you have kindly mentioned this occurrence in your book.

If you, or anyone else know ay more about the airmen or aeroplane that caused this particular bombing, or know anything more about the damage to this building, I'd be grateful to know.

Whilst my father ever spoke of his father, t has been sad in the family that he saw his father killed. This cannot be verified as he is no longer with us.

Thanks in advance

Andrew

#9 Aspern

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 11:32 PM

Hi Andrew - just seen your message.

Yes, I have quite a bit more about the damage at 65 Fenchurch Street. Can you leave it with me and I'll see what I can dig out.

Regard

Ian

#10 Aspern

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 10:02 AM

To Ian Castle,
I am currently researching my grandfather who died in London and btained his death certfcate which revealed that his death - on 13th June 1917 was due to "decapitation caused by bombs dropped by enemy airmen" He was in his ffce in 65 Fenchurch Street and you have kindly mentioned this occurrence in your book.

If you, or anyone else know ay more about the airmen or aeroplane that caused this particular bombing, or know anything more about the damage to this building, I'd be grateful to know.

Whilst my father ever spoke of his father, t has been sad in the family that he saw his father killed. This cannot be verified as he is no longer with us.



Hi Andrew
Following our exchange of PMs I have some interesting information for you about your Grandfather. You mentioned to me that his company was Allin & Wahlberg (Translators) and that your Grandfather was Swedish (Mr Wahlberg).

First of all, from the London Fire Brigade report I can inform you that 65 Fenchurch Street was a building measuring 60ft by 40ft, and was of five floors. It was let out as shops, offices and dwellings. And from information I give below we know that your Grandfather's office was on the top floor.

Regarding any info about the the German air crew or aircraft that droped the bomb I am afraid that is not possible. As you know from my book 14 Gothas reached London that day, taking the City completly by surprise. Since the last Zeppelin raid against London on 1st October 1916 the skies over the City had remained clear, except for one minor incident, for over eight months. These aircraft were not marking individual targets, just getting over the City, releasing their bombs and heading home.

Now the interesting stuff!

In the mid-1930s the London newspaper, the Evening News, in the face of increasing worries of another European war and with it a return of enemy aircraft over London, invited their readers to send in their experiences of bombing in WWI - as a reminder how horrific it would be. Four of the letters submitted (transcribed below) related to the bombing of 65 Fenchurch Street - the third one was submitted by a secretary working for your Grandfather. When taken together they give a good impression of the experieces suffered that day by those caught up in the raid.
The headings to each letter are as they appeared in the newspaper.

Hope you find it useful for your family research.

Regards

Ian

1:
ONE GIRL WENT BACK

MIDDAY, June, 13, 1917, at 65, Fenchurch-street, E.C.3; a brilliant sun that blinded one in looking skyward.

I had two offices on the third floor. Drafting a letter, I began to hear ominous rumbles coming westward, and quickly rose from my chair. There came two deafening crashes. The building swayed and trembled. Two big plate-glass windows came smashing through. Deep fissures appeared in the walls, and I was thrown almost to my knees. Nearly half of our building had been torn down, and I was but a few yards from the wreckage.

Three girls employed in a translation bureau on the top floor had rushed out, but one returned for her handbag, and the two others were blown to pieces. The girl who returned was marooned, and just retained her perilous foothold on a crag of brickwork. She was eventually rescued by a fire-escape amid the cheers of a crowd in the street.

The memories I retain most vividly are:
Looking out of my window onto a street that seemed enveloped by a thick mist – the rising dust of debris…Excited shouts of "Come out!" and "Keep in!"…Safes, burst open, with their scattered contents, piles of books and papers and other debris, in the roadway…A girl, who had been standing in the doorway of a provision shop next door, having now lost both her legs…An unknown man lying dead against the wall of an A.B.C. shop opposite…A certified accountant, who had offices near mine, lying dead besides his daughter, who had tried to help him…A number of dead (probably having taken refuge in our building) who were unknown to the office tenants…An office-boy imprisoned in a collapsed lavatory for some hours, and dug out unhurt…A small cat mewing piteously, with its fur blown away.

Altogether nearly twenty dead were lying on the stairs and landings of that comparatively small office building - by far the biggest casualty list for a single City structure. I passed down through them.

Thomas E. Burke, 27 The Crescent, Barnes, S.W.13.

2:
I WAS THAT BOY

I was the office boy, mentioned by your reader Mr T. E. Burke, who was in 65, Fenchurch-street, E.C., when it was hit in the day raid (aeroplanes) on June 13, 1917. At noon that day I went down to the basement to wash before going out to lunch, and had no knowledge of an air raid. Suddenly a tremendous explosion took place and all the lights went out, dust, debris, and water falling everywhere. The water came from the 2,000-gallon cistern at the top of the building, which was wrecked by the bomb.

Soaked to the skin and blinded by dust, I stumbled, in complete darkness, for the stairs, which were broken and wrecked. I found myself barred from freedom at the top by a iron grid doorway, through which I tried to fight my way, though it had been blocked by debris. I was hearing the screams and moans of the wounded. Then I must have become unconscious, for I have a vague of memory of being in a chemist's shop.

My firm suffered the loss of their cashier, and only three people in that building came through uninjured. I had to be allowed two months' leave to recuperate; but some months afterwards, going again into that basement I came across my glasses (which had been torn of my nose, of course), unbroken and fit for use.

A. C. Stevens, 57 Haileybury-avenue, Bush Hill Park, Enfield Middlesex.


3:
I WAS THAT GIRL

It was undoubtedly that sudden thought of my handbag which saved my life.

I snatched the bag from beside the typewriter I had been using, and had only run a few steps towards the door again when a bomb crashed through. I was swung around, and dropped the bag in putting up my hands to cover my ears at the terrific explosion. I stood there terrified, surrounded by debris, calling for help, and not daring to move. Fortunately the flooring did not give way.

When I saw a small flame appear a few yards away, and the bombing was getting distant, I clambered over the debris to the edge of the building, which was still standing, though windows and the top part had practically all gone. Things gave way now and again under my feet: then something gave way completely and I nearly went down. Eventually I managed it, got to where I thought I was standing on something fairly solid, and waited.

The dust was clearing a little, and I saw heads peep cautiously round doors and windows, and then people began to emerge again. The fire escape came soon after, and a fireman was going to carry me down: but I thought I could manage it myself, so he guided my feet on to the rungs of the escape. I got the heel of my shoe caught at the top, so he just wrenched it off. I looked down once when nearing the bottom, but it was a sickening sight, several lying dead on the pavement. So I looked up again.

I can set Mr. Burke's mind at rest regarding the other two young ladies he believed killed. They were not in the building at the time. The two other people who were in the office with me at the time were my employer, a Swede, and a French civil engineer. Both were killed. Both were good linguists.

Mrs. Eleanor K. Houghton, 23, Brownswood-road, Finsbury Park, N.4.


4:
IN A CITY OFFICE

As a girl of nineteen, I was working on June 13, 1917, in my father's offices in Fenchurch-street, when we heard a series of crashes. I left my father sitting in his room and passed into the outer office.

I do not remember hearing the crash of the bomb which completely wrecked the building, but I found myself groping along the tiled entrance hall in pitch darkness. As the dust cleared, I retraced my steps and found my father, to my infinite relief, unhurt, but covered with plaster and yellow powder from the bomb. I had been hit by a piece of the bomb casing, which destroyed my left eye and gashed the side of my nose. Later both he and I lost the skin from our hands, apparently from a form of dermatitis caused by the powder.

A City policeman climbed over the wreckage into our office and assisted me to the street, past the bodies of people killed by the falling building. A bus was stopped and turned into a temporary ambulance to take me and two frightfully injured stretcher-cases to Guy's Hospital. Here, although I was not twenty, I was admitted as a woman of "about 65" as my hair was quite white with plaster! My father, though apparently unhurt, never fully recovered his health, and he died from a complaint directly attributable to the explosion.

Mrs. Gwendoline E. Bracey, The Old House, Old Woking, Surrey.







#11 Silly Moustache

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 10:25 AM

Dear Ian, many thanks for advising me of these reports. It is a fairv assumption that the Swedish Linguist ws my grandfather.

Thankyou,.

Andrew Perry

#12 RobL

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 09:10 PM

Finally acquired a copy which I had the chance to inspect today - just as good and useful as the London 1914-17 edition. A great addition to my library of Airship/Aeroplane raids and will be very useful for my adventures around London looking for evidence of the raids

#13 polyphon

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 02:34 PM

Dear Ian and TEW

I am researching the history of a particular sound recording and am delighted to find such detailed information about events of nearly a hundred years ago. Chiswell Street and particularly the south end of City Road were the centre of the British gramophone industry at that time, no doubt partly because the area was the centre for the manufacture of cheap furniture.

My interest is in a ‘recording laboratory’ that was opened in Chiswell Street in February 1917 to make recordings in a non-standard format, having inherited this technique from the assets of a company that operated from 1912 to 1915 in City Road. I have long had what is now looking likely to be a test pressing from that laboratory - the only known example, as the company had decided to switch to conventional records by the time of their first published issues.

I can add two little linked anecdotes from the biography of recording pioneer Joe Batten.


Meanwhile, in the midst of all these activities I was now a
full-fledged private of the H.A.C. ; moreover, my extensive
knowledge of horses derived from witnessing feats of
horsemanship at the various London circuses had resulted in
my becoming Driver Batten of Reserve Battery, R.H.A.
Fortunately, I was able to get all the leave I required to
continue with my recording work of conducting, accompanying
and orchestrating, all this being carried out within a very
short distance of H.A.C. Headquarters. Perhaps the light-
hearted view of my Army duties was possibly due to the fact
that I had become prominent in working for the Soldiers’
Entertainment Fund, forerunner of E.N.S.A., and assisting in
shows given two or three times a week at camps widespread
over the length and breadth of England, and this certainly
kept my name off the periodical lists of drafts for overseas
posted in battery orders. I must admit that, unlike the
majority of men at that time, eager to get into the trenches
(and such is human nature, once there, as eager to get out
again), the prospect filled me with anxiety and dismay.
I had two families dependent on me, and how I was to
manage if I was drafted and reduced to little more than
my soldier’s pay I could not imagine.

The recording rooms of the British Polyphon Company
in City Road overlooked the H.A.C. parade ground. During
one of the earlier daylight raids on London, one of the first
aerial torpedoes, which later were to wreak much havoc,
came to ground immediately under what had been the
Polyphon windows. Actually it fell among six khaki-clad
soldiers, of whom I was one, huddled in a shelter dug-out.
It was a dud. Had it exploded, I hardly think that I should
be writing these rambling reminiscences now.

Only a few days after this I was conducting for a company
(whose name I have forgotten) in Chiswell Street. One of
the bombs dropped in the raid had made a shambles of the
next-door building ; the ruins could be seen from the windows
of the recording room. That morning we were to record an
Italian tenor, Roselli, in the operatic arias, : “ La Donna e
Mobile ”, “ E Lucevan le Stella ”, and “ Questa o Quella ”.
Having rehearsed, we were about to make the first title when
Roselli strolled to the window and for the first time saw
the devastation outside. Flinging his arms above his head,
he shouted in a terrified voice some odd exclamation which
sounded like “ boom !” and scuttled from the room. We
heard him clattering down the stairs, the bang of a door,
then silence. He left behind collar and tie, music, and his
fee of twelve guineas. They were never claimed.


(Joe Batten's Book, The Story of Sound Recording, Rockliff, London, 1956, pp53-54.)

As you'll imagine I too would be keen to see the album showing damage to these properties.

#14 TEW

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 02:04 PM

polyphon,

Thanks for the PM and adding to this thread,

My Great-Grandfather's business was E. Whiteaway & Co. of 4-7 Chiswell Street. I have 7 captioned photos already scanned.
1. Shows the HAC ground and back of warehouses in Bunhill Row.
2. Damage to the roof of EW&Co. very little else in shot.
3 & 4. Internal shots of 4th Floor EW&Co.
5 & 6. Shots of buildings opposite side of Chiswell St. At one time owned by the Overseas Farmers' Co-operative Federation Ltd.
7. Shot of the rear of EW&Co taken from HAC ground.

If you PM an email address I'll get them off to you. I don't have the album to hand but there are more shots of the building and area following WWII raids.

Just out of curiosity, what is the sound recording you have?

regards
TEW

#15 polyphon

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 09:02 PM

Thank you TEW. There were businesses concerned with sound recording on both sides of Chiswell Street. The numbers go up one side and down the other, and the low numbers, both odd and even, are on the North (HAC) side next to City Road/Finsbury Pavement, and the highest numbers opposite them on the south. Clearly the one Batten mentions, and very possibly the different one where this record was made, were next door to your great-grandfather's premises. Nothing in Kelly's directories, so I imagine they were rooms in a building of many offices.

The record, or the most interesting side, can be seen here, http://www.russian-r...p?image_id=5439 with some of the discussion. I'm planning an article about it now that some hard facts are appearing at last.

I'll PM you with my e-mail and thanks!

#16 Aspern

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 11:18 AM

Hi Guys

I can't add much to what I've already posted but from what I can see from the records the bomb that hit 89 Chiswell Street also caused damage to 88 and 90 Chiswell Street as well as lesser damage (broken windows) to 139 Finsbury Pavement and 1 Finsbury Square. The second bomb, which hit 4 Chiswell Street, also damaged 3 Chiswell Street which was a pub called The Pied Horse.

#17 polyphon

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Posted 25 December 2012 - 10:16 PM

Thanks Ian.

The studios may have been no 8 which is a Georgian building just visible in a scan TEW kindly sent me. But I suspect the studios were more likely in no 2. I must recheck Kelly's Directory with the extra information. Postwar, Nos 1 and 2 were a block in multiple use called Finsbury Square Buildings.