Oxted  District History Society - Article
Oxted  District History Society

Ian Castle, author and historian specialising in First Word War air raids on Britain, gave an illustrated lecture to the Oxted & District History Society to open its 2018-19 Season on ‘The Night the Zeppelins Came’.  Zeppelins were from 550 to 700 feet long, with aluminium frames and filled with bags of hydrogen.  They chose to attack on the darkest nights and were difficult to destroy.  Zeppelin raids started in 1915 with raids on East Anglia and London.  The Zeppelin which bombed Croydon dropped some bombs on Folkestone and Tunbridge Wells passing over Oxted before raiding East Croydon, killing 71 people and injuring 128 more.

There were no effective defences against air raids until Sir Percy Scott, a hero of the Boer War, was appointed to organise them in 1915.  More effective anti-aircraft guns and aeroplanes were developed as well as incendiary bullets.  A more effective early warning system was put in place with observers phoning sightings to London.  In September 1916, the first Zeppelin was shot down, followed by several others later that year.  As a result, Zeppelin raids drastically decreased in 1917 and 1918 while bomber raids increased.


The night the Zeppelins came. Croydon on the front line

by Ian Castle