Zeppelin bombs exhibition is a 'unique piece of local history'

PUBLISHED: 16:16 29 July 2016 | UPDATED: 16:17 29 July 2016

 Zeppelin Air Raid on March Aug 1st 1916 - Exhibition at March Museum, Picture: Steve Williams.

Zeppelin Air Raid on March Aug 1st 1916 - Exhibition at March Museum, Picture: Steve Williams.

Archant

If you were in March 100 years ago this month you would have been surprised and possibly woken by an attack from above during the night.

Zeppelin Air Raid on March Aug 1st 1916 - Exhibition at March Museum,Zeppelin Air Raid on March Aug 1st 1916 - Exhibition at March Museum,

“Just after midnight on the night of July 31/August 1, 1916, a German Zeppelin Airship was heard approaching March,” said archivist David Edwards.

“The Zeppelin may have been attracted by the lights of the railway station, which remarkably were not covered by the national blackout restrictions, which applied to all other properties within the town. In any event, the crew must have decided to take advantage of this well lit target.

“After dropping an incendiary bomb to further light up the area, three explosive bombs were dropped, together with a second device.

Zeppelin Air Raid on March Aug 1st 1916 - Exhibition at March Museum,Zeppelin Air Raid on March Aug 1st 1916 - Exhibition at March Museum,

“The bombs dropped harmlessly in a nearby field producing craters four feet deep by twelve feet in diameter, though some reports suggesting that two cows or bullocks were slightly injured and required veterinary treatment.

“An enterprising local farmer charged three pence (about 1p in today’s money) entrance fee, to view the bomb craters in the field.

“The Church family, who kept the nearby Great Northern Public House at the time, retained the remains of one of the bombs...”

Zeppelin Air Raid on March Aug 1st 1916 - Exhibition at March Museum,Zeppelin Air Raid on March Aug 1st 1916 - Exhibition at March Museum,

The unique relic now forms the centrepiece of an exhibition at March Museum telling the story of the first air attack on March.

The firebombs were filled with flammable liquids and wrapped in tar-soaked rope - the remnants can be seen at the exhibit.

It is recorded that German Airships made 51 bombing raids on England during the first world war. In 1916 alone, the Zeppelin Airships carried out 23 air raids, dropped 125 tons of bombs and killed 293 and injured 691 people.

Mike Chapman, of the museum, said: “It’s a chance to see a unique piece of local history.”

The March Museum exhibition, which opens tomorrow, includes memories of Fenland men lost in the battle of the Somme.

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