Kingston upon Hull War Memorial 1914 - 1918

The story of Hull in World War One

Air Raids on Hull


Britain was the first county in history to experience widespread strategic bombing of civilians. Two large, rigid air ships, named Zeppelins L3 & L4, after their creator Count Ferdinand Von Zeppelin, dropped bombs on eastern coastal towns in January 1915. They caused casualties in Great Yarmouth and Kings Lynn.

As in the Second World War, the Humber estuary and River Hull made the City an easy target for aircraft to find and attack. Hull quickly established its own Anti Aircraft Unit to defend against attack. Stentorian Buzzers, or steam whistles were created to warn citizens of attack. Hull created the largest buzzer ever called 'Big Lizzie'  and the ‘Hull Mail’ reported the following on 25th January 1915 – “ Arousing the Public in the event of certain happenings, for which the Germans will be responsible, the public at Hull are to be warned by the shrill blast of steam whistles. The steam organ valve whistles are being supplied by Messers George Clark and sons, Waterhouse Lane. The type to be used in Hull are 6in in diameter.” (Hull's 'Big Lizzie' Buzzer below) 

Zeppelin raids caused widespread fear among the civillian population and during 1915 careful preparation was made to manage the impact of air raids. Hull was divided into six districts - West, North West, Central, North East, East and the River section. Air raid drills were established and if an alarm was raised, 3,000 volunteer Special Constables would turnout to patrol the streets and ensure all lights were put out. Lights on the ground could help Zeppelins work out where they were, so it was important to have a complete blackout. Hundreds of Boy Scouts were used as dispatch riders, messengers and stretcher bearers. During 1915, 25 dessing stations were established in all parts of the City, staffed by Doctors and Members of the St John’s Ambulance Association to administer First Aid. By 1916, Britain also developed guns and searchlights to help defend against Zeppelins. They realised that the Zeppelin balloons were vulnerable to explosive shells which set light to the Hydrogen inside. Hull's defences for the first two years were controlled by General Ferrier and the practice was to sound the alarm as soon as aircraft were sighted. However, when Major General Sir Stanley Von Donop took over control, alarms were not sounded until danger threatened the City. This saved much inconvenience.   No automatic alt text available.

(Photograph above, of damage caused by the Zeppelin raid on Edwin Place, Porter Street, Hull in 1916 Three people were killed and several injured here. Also the Zeppelin attack on Hull Minster)

The first of eight Zeppelin raids on Hull, began on 5/6th June 1915 and  the lighting restrictions imposed made Hull “the darkest city in the Kingdom” for the rest of the war. Capable of travelling at around 85 miles per hour and carrying up to two tons of bombs, Zeppelins wreaked havoc on a largely unprotected Hull. Dropping incendaries and exposives from heights of around 3,000 feet, they sparked raging fires, damaging many buildings, including the Holy Trinity Church. These air attacks were a new and terrifying experience for Hull civilians. There were no Air Raid shelters, people used Pickering Park and Mr TR Ferens East Hull stables or  hid under the stairs as protection from this 'death from the skies'. Lack of knowledge intensified fear. Parents told their children to be quiet or whisper, in case they attracted a bomb.  Clocks were stopped to avoid their 'ticking' giving a signal to the enemy. While many of the air raids were aimed at Hull's docks, the bombs inevitably fell on the overcrowded houses nearby. This caused great panic and hardship to the densely packed communities. No automatic alt text available.Over 160 Hull citizens became casualties in these air raids during World War 1.On one particular Monday there were 14 false alarms.  (Above Bomb damage in Hull's High Street)

In all, there were 51 air attack warnings and at least eight air attacks on Hull during the First World War.

1. The first air raid in Hull occurred on Sunday 5th June 1915 at midnight. The alarm buzzers had previously blown five times before, and as nothing had happened, many people ignored the alarm. The Zeppelin L.9, commanded by Captain Heinrich Mathy, had been prevented from reaching London by high winds. It was spotted flying over Hedon at 11.45pm, and arrived over the sleeping City of Hull, two minutes later. The air raid lasted 30 minutes, cruising back and forth over the city, dropping 13 high explosives and 47 incendiaries. These bombs in sequence hit Constable Street, Coltman Street, Campbell Street, South Parade, Porter Street, Queens Street, Blanket Row, East Street, and Waller Street. The last bomb fell in the Humber Dock, damaging a cargo ship called the 'Crocus'. Forty shops were destroyed, including the large Edwin Davis shop in Queen Street. No automatic alt text available.


2. Holy Trinity church was also bombed causing £100,000 in damage. One bomb left a hole in the High Street, some 20 feet in diameter and 8 feet deep which disrupted traffic. After half an hour of bombing, the Zeppelin L.9, headed home around 12.20am. The air raid killed 24 Hull people and injured another 40 civilians. Among the deaths were a father and two daughters in Campbell Street, two children burnt to death in South Parade, two brothers in Blanket Row and a mother and son in Waller Street. The raid provoked much anti German feeling in Hull and led to riots, which targeted German sounding property.  Another raid by the Zeppelin L.9, intended for Hull on 9th August 1915, was blown off course and bombed Goole instead. It killed 16 civilians. 

3. The 5th March 1916, was a snowy Sunday evening, when the air raid started at 12 midnight. Two Zeppelins, the L.11 & the L.14, unable to reach Rosyth in Scotland, due to high winds, began to bomb Hull instead. The attack lasted over an hour. In Queens Street a café, a Co-operative branch and several shops were totally destroyed. Railings at the South West corner of Holy Trinity Church were uprooted and the great West window was broken causing £25,000 damage. Houses were bombed in Linnaeus Street, Porter Street, Queens Street, Church Street, and Selby Street. Earle’s Shipyard was also hit. In all 17 civilians were killed, including three sisters in Linnaeus Street and a mother and her 4 children at 32 Collier Street. There were also another 52 people injured. The frustration of citizens at the complete lack of defences led to several disturbances. A Royal Flying Corp vehicle in Hull was stoned by an angry mob and a flying Officer was attacked in Beverley. As a result, mobile guns and searchlights arrived in Hull on 16th March 1916.

4. On 5th April 1916 at 9.10pm, the Zeppelin L.11 returned to Hull and at a height of 12,000 feet was caught in searchlights and hit. It dropped to about 6.000 feet. Only one bomb was dropped in Hull which damaged a private house in Portobello Street. No one was killed or injured, but Jesse Mathews from Barnsley Street died of shock. 

5. On 8-9th August 1916 the Zeppelin L.24 attacked Hull. This later became known as the 'Selby Street Raid', killing between 8 or 10 people and injuring 20 more. It was a dark, cloudy Tuesday night, but when the clouds lifted at midnight, the Zeppelin L.24, returning home from an inland raid, attacked Hull at 1.15am. It dropped high explosive and incendiary bombs on Anlaby Road and the railway, causing damage and deaths in Selby Street, Sandringham Street and Linnaeus Street. The deaths included two mothers and their daughters and three year old John Broadley at 4 Roland Avenue, Arthur Street. Two people also died of shock and another 20 civilians were injured. Many  sought safety in the country and spent the night in fields and parks. 


 (The destruction of the Edwin Davis Store, in front of Holy Trinity Church, Hull. The Zeppelins used bombs in all shapes and sizes)     

6. On 24th September 1917 at 2.50am, the Zeppelin L.41, dropped a total of 16 bombs on South Parade, St James Street, Landsdowne Street and Fountain Street. There was little damage. The only casualty was a chicken which unfortunately was killed. 

7. Tuesday, 12th March 1918, was a dark, cloudy and drizzly night. At about 1.15am the Zeppelin L.63 appeared from Hornsea and dropped six bombs on Hull. These fell on some allotments in Southcoates Avenue, and damaged a large number of glass windows in the locality. Another six bombs fell in Sutton & Swine. The bombs killed a cow, damaged gardens in Cottingham and created a huge crator in Warne. One person died of shock and 3 were injured.

8. The 5th August 1918 was a Bank Holiday and the last recorded raid on Hull. It was very clear night and the Zeppelin arrived at about 1 am. It was caught in the search light and only managed to drop a smoke bomb before it was driven away. There were no casualties.

Hull endured up to 50 air raid warnings between 12th April 1915 to 5th August 1918. Most of the air raid warnings were false alarms, but Hull was unfortunate, as it became a target for many of the air raid attacks by accident when the zeppelins were unable to reach their intended target. The Raids left a trail of death and destruction. The following are some citizen stories reported in the Hull Daily Mail.

6th June 1915.

Mrs Websdale, of 23 Bright Street, said her husband was on duty as a Special Constable. Around midnight a bomb fell on no 30, but it did not wake her son who was asleep in the attic. Two bombs fells on Hewetson & Co's sawmills and reduced it to ruins. The Zeppelin hovered over the area for some time and the Reckitt's factory had a narrow escape from destruction. The extent of damage at the sawmills was £10,000 and a large amount of valuable machinery was destroyed. Mrs Bielby of 1 Church Street, told how she and her family were sleeping, when a bomb dropped at the entrance of the terrace and shook the houses so violently that they had to be rebuilt. A huge hole was made in the ground.

Annie Nix, of 15 East Street, said that a bomb fell at Nos: 10 and 12, killing Jane (45) and George Hill who were in bed. They were taken to St Peter's Church. Edward Jordan (10) of No: 11 Ella Street was also killed and three children Willie, Florrie and Elsie were injured. No automatic alt text available.

Mr Russell of Waller Street, said a bomb fell in the middle of Walter's Terrace, demolishing 4 houses on each side. Eliza Slade (54) was killed at No 4, as were a mother and daughter at No; 3. Florence White (30) and her son George (3) and Alfred Mathews at No:11 were also killed. An incendiary bomb dropped on a house in Ellis Terrace and one woman did not find her three children until a fortnight later, when it was found that they had been badly injured and were in the Naval Hospital on Anlaby Road.

At South Parade, a bomb dropped at No:50, where two children were asleep with their mother. The children were burned to death, but the mother escaped. The children were Maurice (11) and Violet (8) Richardson. Their father was away in the army. Three Houses in St Thomas Terrace, Campbell Street, were wrecked by a bomb falling on No: 2. William Walker (62), and his daughters Alice (30) and Millicent (17), were killed. One of the girls' bodies was blown on to the lower roof of St Thomas's Church, which had a narrow escape from destruction. At Regent Street, an incendiary bomb was seen to fall in the back yard of Mr Francis Ford, of No: 89. He immediately got out of bed and threw a bucket of water on the blazing missile and extinguished it. This action undoubtedly, saved many lives and valuable property. Mr Burns of Wheatly & Co, Mytongate, reported on the attack on the Corn Exchange Hotel. An Incendiary bomb went through the roof, ceiling and sitting room and finished in an upholstered divan chair. No doubt the copper springs in the chair lessened the shock of the fall, averting very serious damage. A fire started at the pub which was quickly extinguished on arrival of the fire brigade.

 No automatic alt text available.Two women survey the damage at Porter Street, Hull  and the crowd survey bomb damage, Campbell Street, Hull.


2nd September 1917.

John Ramsden, of Aberdeen Street said he saw the Zeppelin came to Hull from the east, but was driven away by gunfire. He later learned one of its petro tanks had been shot away and found in a field in Hornsea. 

12 March 1918. 

Mrs Ellis, of Whitworth Street, Southcoates Lane, narrowly escaped death. She was walking towards the back door when a bomb fell in the rear garden. She heard a rushing sound and instantly threw herself to the ground, pulling her hat over her eyes. Pieces of the bomb went through the walls behind her, tore a huge piece of stonework from the front bedroom window ledge and threw it into the gateway. Every slate fell from the roof, but Mrs Ellis was unscathed.

Mrs Dick, of 62 Southcoates Avenue, said window frames were blown out and she found a large piece of bomb in her garden. The canary in its cage in front of the window was uninjured and was afterwards nicknamed 'Zeppelin Dick'.

Miss Ellerby, of Southcoates Avenue, was in a cupboard when the bomb dropped. The walls were cracked and doors ripped off. Forty five buckets of debris were carried out of the front room.

As well as a number of Streets bombed and houses destroyed, some principal buildings damaged included Paragon Station, the Naval Hospital, Holy Trinity Church, and Earle’s Shipyard. Prominent Shops such Edwin Davis’s in the Market Place, Messers J Good & Son, and Hewetson’s Saw Mills were destroyed. There were also some narrow misses at Ranks Flour Mill, Monument Bridge, Princes Dock and the new Guildhall. There were occasions were bombs failed to explode at Coltman Street, Bean Street and Argyle Street. In total, 43 Hull people were killed, 13 died of shock and 115 were injured in Zeppelin Air Raids on Hull. Amongst those killed were 21 women and 17 children, including several families. 

In all, Zeppelins made 51 attacks on England, from a total of 159 air raids during the war. These killed 557 and injured another 1,358 people. Among the casualties was Mrs Lena Gilbert Ford, who wrote the patriotic war time song, 'Keep the Home Fires Burning'. Mrs Ford and her thirty-year-old son Walter were the first United States citizens to become fatalities of a German air raid. Their London home being hit by one of two bombs, that No automatic alt text available.fell on the city on 7 March 1918. Mrs. Brown, Ford's mother, was only hurt in the bombing. Their remains were returned to and interred in the United States. In all, more than 5,000 bombs were dropped on towns across Britain, causing £1.5 million in damage. 84 airships took part, of which 30 were lost, either shot 

down or lost in accidents. Aeroplanes carried out 27 raids, dropping 246,774 lb (111,935 kg) of bombs for the loss of 62 aircraft, resulting in 835 deaths, 1,972 injured and £1,418,272 of material damage. The 159 German air raids against England in WWI, resulted in 1,413 deaths and 3,409 injuries, mostly civilians. Damage from Air Raids was estimated to cost some £3 million.   No automatic alt text available.

(Photos shows the destruction at Porter Street and Bright Street (above), Also Queen Street, Humber Dock (below)

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An incendiary bomb hit 102 Great Thornton Street, the home of Harris Needler. In one of its rooms five boys were sleeping, two of them in a bed that was struck by the bomb. In this pic you can see the iron of the bedstead is bent and one of the boys is sitting at the scene of their lucky escape.

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Thomas Sheppard, Hull Museum Curator, with some bombs and Blundell's Steam Whistle, known as 'Big Lizzie' used as an alert for Zeppelin raids in WW1

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Hull Civilians killed in Air Raids during World War One

(Names, Age in brackets and their Address)

June 1915

Maurice Richardson (11)                   -  50 South Parade

Violet Richardson (8)                         – 50 South Parade

Tom Stamford (46)                               -   5 Blanket Row

Ellen Temple (50)                                 - 20 St James Square, St James Street

Elizabeth Picard Foreman (39)        – 37 Walker Street

Sarah Ann Scott (86)                          –      The Poplars, Durham Street

Johanna Harman (67)                        – 93 Arundel Street

Jane Hill (45)                                         - 12 East Street

George Hill (48)                                    - 12 East Street

Eliza Slade (54)                                      - 4 Walter's Terrace, Waller Street

Florence White (30)                               - 3 Waller Street

George Issac White (3)                         - 3 Waller Street

Alfred Mathews (60)                            - 11 Waller Street

William Walker (62)                                - 2  St Thomas Terrace, Campbell Street

Alice Priscilla Walker (30)                    - 2  St Thomas Terrace, Campbell Street

Millicent Walker (17)                              - 2  St Thomas Terrace, Campbell Street

Norman Mullins (10)                           – 39  Blanket Row

George Mullins (15)                            – 39  Blanket Row

William Watson (67)                             - 21 Edwin's Place, Porter Street

Annie Watson (58)                                - 21 Edwin's Place, Porter Street

Georgina Cunningham (27)              – 22 Edwin's Place, Porter Street

Emma Pickering (68)                            -      Sarah's Terrace, Porter Street

Edwin Jordan (10)                                - 11 East Street

Hannah Mitchell (42)                             – 5  Alexandra terrace, Woodhouse Street

March 1916  
Edward Cook (38)                                  –  33 Lukes Street

John Longstaff (71)                               – 6  William's Place, Upper Union Street

Lotte Ingamells (28)                                - 8 The Avenue, Linnaeus Street

Ethel Mary Ingamells (33)                      - 8 The Avenue, Linnaeus Street

Martha Rebecca Ingamells (35)           - 8 The Avenue, Linnaeus Street

Edward Slip (45)                                    - 23 Queen Street

Edward Ledner (89)                              –     Trinity House, Carr Lane (Now the Admiral Pub) 

Robert Cattle  (48)                                    -    Little Humber Street

Frank Cattle (8)                                      -       Little Humber Street

James William Collinson (63)         –    14 Johns Place, Regent Street

George Henry Youell (40)                  –    4  Post Office Entry, High Street

Charlotte Naylor (30)                           – 32 Collier Street

Ruby Naylor(8)                                      – 32 Collier Street

Annie Naylor (6)                                    – 32 Collier Street

Edward Naylor (4)                                – 32 Collier Street

Jeffery Naylor (2)                                  – 32 Collier Street

James Pattison (68)                             – 33 Regent Street

John Smith (30)                                      –  2 Queens Alley, Blackfriargate

August 1916

The Rev, Arthur Wilcockson (86)   -    32 Granville Street

Mary Louise Bearpark (44)               -   35 Selby Street

Emmie Bearpark (14)                           -  35 Selby Street

John Charles Broadley (3)               -     4 Roland Avenue, Arthur Street

Rose Alma Hall (31)                             -  61 Selby Street

Elizabeth Hall (9)                                  -  61 Selby Street

Mary Hall (7)                                           -  61 Selby Street

Charles Lingard (64)                          -   61 Walliker Street

Emma Louise Evers (46)                -     25 Brunswick Avenue, Walliker Street

Esther Stobbart (31)                       –     13 Henry's Terrace, Wassand Street

Died of Shock

William Jones (80)                           –         The Almshouses, Posterngate

Jane Booth (51)                               –       2 Alma Street

Sarah Masterman (58)                   –        9 Humber Avenue, Scarborough Street

William Clarkson (62)                     –        2 Adderbury Grove

Jesse Mathews    (1)                      –      11 Cotton Terrace, Barnsley Street



Related links

Thank You to Robert Searle from the BBC, the Hull Daily Mail , 'Hull: The Good Old days '(Facbook) and  others for their photographs. See also following Zeppelin Links


1. Hull's First, forgotten Blitz -


2. Kapitanleutnant Heinrich Mathy (1883-1916) - Commander of the L9 Zeppelin which bombed Hull -


3. The 100th Aniversary of Zeppelin Raids on Hull


Please also find BBC Radio Humberside’s Facebook page,


And the Twitter page, using the hashtag #hullzeppelin throughout the anniversary commemoration,


Please get involved how you can. The Zeppelin raid story must be told as part of Hull's history, and social media is the best way of achieving this aim.


4. The Hull Zeppelin Raids 1915-18 Paperback – 1 Jun 2014 by Arthur G. Credland (Author)