German Army Zeppelin LZ 38 - bombed Bury April, 1915

The Great War of 1914 to 1918
Picture Gallery of
Bury St Edmunds and surrounds
Mainly from postcards


Picture Page 4a - Bury St Edmunds attacked from the air -
Night of 29th/30th April, 1915

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Dated January, 1915, this order to restrict street and private lights at night should have made it very difficult for Suffolk towns to be attacked from the air. In practice it was difficult to turn off the street lights quickly, and Bury continued to be well lit, despite this order.

Bury St Edmunds suffered its first of two Zeppelin raids on 30th April, 1915. The Illustrated War News carried this report on 5th May, 1915. The Northgate Avenue crater was 22 feet across and 5.5 feet deep, but the nearby East Anglian School escaped the attack. The nearest house was "Bradley", the home of Leslie Goldsmith, seed merchant. Only three such explosive bombs were dropped around Bury, but nearly 50 incendiary bombs fell. Until June, 1915, the press freely reported the locations of such attacks. As these reports were deemed useful to enemy navigation, D Notice 217, dated 1st June 1915, stated that nothing must appear in the press except the official statements issued by HMG.

This map by Chris Mycock of St Edmundsbury Museum Service, shows the route which Zeppelin LZ38 probably took in its attack on Bury in April, 1915. The Zeppelin had already bombed Great Yarmouth and Ipswich that night, before coming to Bury St Edmunds. On the return to Germany, a 4th high explosive bomb was dropped at Woolpit Warren. Thanks to the internet, we even know the name of its commander; Hauptman Erich Linnarz.

(Zeppelin LZ38 was subsequently destroyed on 7th June, 1915, by a bombing raid on its hangar at Brussels-Evere. The prefix LZ denoted a Zeppelin crewed by the German Army, whereas the "L" prefix denoted a machine manned by the German Navy.)

This is a postcard produced of the fire damage caused to a row of shops in the Buttermarket. Note Moyse's Hall Museum in the background.

There were many different views produced of this destruction by several different publishers. Getting a distinctive picture was key to success in sales of cards.

Firemen still damping down the smouldering ruins of the incendiary attack on the Cornhill.

Cousins the photographers was one of the shops lost in this fire. His ability to make money from photographs of the raid was severely hindered by this fact, despite being one of the first on the scene.

Firemen are still on the scene, but making safe the roof debris. Yet another similar view of the bombed premises on the Cornhill, Bury St Edmunds, in April, 1915. No publisher details on this card.

Such was the impact of the bombing that Mr L W Wallis, a photographer from Mildenhall attended the scene in order to record the event for sale in that town. (Wallis was recorded at premises in both High Street and Mill Street, Mildenhall.)
As we can see below, even Pathe news turned up from London.

Another view of the same shops, clearly dated April 30/1915. The Suffolk Hotel is in the background. Johnsons the Dyers is on the left. Copies of this postcard are quite numerous, but are nearly always severely faded, indicating rushed and inadequate processing.

This card and the following version demonstrate how there can be two versions of the same picture, but with subtle differences. It is a straight-on view of the same row of shops on the Cornhill from Gerald Brown's collection. It is just possible to see the letters JO in the rubble at the front left of this picture, (when enlarged) indicating Johnson's the Dyers shop sign.

This apparently later reprint of the same card is dated 6th May, 1916, and the message reads, "Dear Harold, Lots of soldiers about here, also a lot of wounded. We watch them play football in the park, Love to all, A.B." The telltale piece of Johnson's sign is missing from this slightly cropped picture, and the date of sending misled me for some time into believing that this was a picture from the 1916 attack.

The damage at the Cornhill is now safely roped off to prevent further public access. Also visible are T H Nice posters announcing their temporary removal to St Johns Street.

The damage at the Cornhill attracted many sightseers, but here we have moved on a day or two. The damage to Mrs Wise the Ladies Outfitters is clearly visible on the right, but bricks above the window have been removed and levelled. The distinctive shield above her shop window has now been removed for safe keeping.

This view of Miss Clarke's tobacconist shop must now be a few days after the air raid, as scaffolding has been erected, and debris removed from the street. Johnsons the Dyers has now been demolished; it was behind the five men on the right. The posters behind the soldiers on the left read, "Tobacconist Business of Miss A Clarke will be temporarily carried on at 90c Whiting Street."

Another postcard picture of the 1915 attack by Zeppelin airship.

The 1915 attack moved to St Andrews Street, and Kings Road was hit. An Auction Room and warehouse at the corner of Kings Road and St Andrews Street, known as St Andrews Hall, was badly damaged. Next door were stables, also set on fire. Both premises belonged to James Pettitt, a motor engineer and corn merchant. The rebuilt premises are the home of Denny Brothers today.

Another view of St Andrews Hall, in what is now called King's Road.

One of the three high explosive bombs dropped in 1915 fell at Westley, in a field near the barracks at Bury St Edmunds. This photograph show soldiers and civilians standing in and around a crater caused by the Zeppelin raid on the town and surrounding area on April 30th 1915. This crater remained for many years and was only filled in when the area was redeveloped as an airfield.

This postcard from Drews Imperial Studios, Cornhill, Bury St Edmunds shows a single spent incendiary bomb.

Picture of a spent zeppelin incendiary bomb by Chris Mycock. Part of Moyse's Hall Museum collection.

The incendiary bombs dropped by the Zeppelin airships early in the war do not seem to have been totally effective. These two bombs recovered at Fornham St Martin in the April 1915 raid seem to have burned, but remained largely intact. The fuse of a 3rd bomb is seen between them.

The local police force made this collection of the spent incendiary bombs dropped on Bury St Edmunds in April, 1915. Also a few pieces of explosive bombs.

In 1915 the fledgling Pathe News filmed the aftermath of the bombing on the Buttermarket for showing in the new Picture Houses. Newsreel Titles read: 'More Bombs In East Anglia - The Damage At Bury St Edmunds - No. 429.' This clip of 1 minute and 11 seconds can be viewed on the British Pathe website by clicking on the picture above.

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The next page illustrates the second air attack on Bury, in 1916

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