A Zeppelin Raid over London 1915
From The Perth Western Mail, Friday 12th November, 1915
Miss Grace Watson, who has friends in every State of the Commonwealth, writes out a graphic account of her own experience of the Zeppelin visitor under the date of September 9: -
"A Zeppelin visited our street last night, consequently I don't mention my private address - as the censor might object ! I was awakened about a quarter to 11 by a crash, and my landlady exclaiming 'We're safe! The Zeppelin has passed over us !' Another crash, and this time my landlady cried, 'Come quickly if you want to see the Zeppelin!' Four of us met on the landing. We were clad in our dressing gowns (which are always kept handy in case of Zeps). One woman calling as she came, 'Oh, please let me get my cat,' We hurried downstairs and went outside - notwithstanding police instructions to remain indoors - and after a few long minutes we saw the Zeppelin - rather low - motionless - a long broad band of pale, glazed, white light, against a faint blue sky.
"Was it coming back? Flash! A pause. Another flash ! Two anti-air guns were after it! The Zeppelin dipped for a moment, then ascended higher and higher until it disappeared from view amid a cloud of bursting shrapnel. Yellow vapour showed red as the shells exploded.
"Half of the plate-glass window of our premises was on the pavement, and for a block and a half there was not a window left in any building. The first bomb exploded in an alley way, bursting a gas main, and setting an hotel on fire. The fire brigade was already at work. Escape ladders were out, and we watched people escaping from the hotel, and nearby store. The brigade arrived in less time than it took us to get down three small flights of stairs. Good, wasn't it? After dressing we walked towards the fire. At that time there were but few people in the street. We saw two men carrying a girl, clad only in her nightgown - feet
well up to escape the broken glass. The thought struck me that it looked for all the world as if they were playing that old school game, 'Carrying the sugar bag.'
"Next we came to a woman - similarly attired - she was barefooted, and carried a boy in her arms. One took the boy and the other helped the woman. Then we saw a soldier, and he carried her, pick-a-back, along the glass-strewn street to our place, where she remained all night. The sight of his mother on the soldier’s back immensely amused the boy - a rosy (but dirty) faced urchin of five. He laughed as he said, 'Oh! Mummie, you need three soldiers to carry you !' The woman sent us to inquire about her mother's safety. She was all right, and had been in a cellar. Then we went searching for Miss Isitt, who is not far away. No bombs had been near her, and we missed each other because she was looking for us.
"The streets soon began to fill. Sightseers came in motors, and taxis, while hundreds and hundreds walked from far distant places, and told us of the damage elsewhere. Many of them stopped to sympathise with us, and, at the same time, helped themselves to pieces of plate glass as souvenirs. The great feature of the crowd was the order and discipline which prevailed. This was, of course, a valuable help to the special constables on duty. Even in the early stages, only one or two women seemed inclined to whimper, and a quick, "Stop it now, don't cry! The Zeppelin has gone," soon decided them that tears were not to be the order of the night.
"For the rest, that insatiable curiosity which is inseparable from Londoners held sway, and Germany's baby killing Zeps. by no means created a panic. In our house (six women and a man), no one turned a hair, and two young girls were particularly plucky. As for myself, there wasn't a thrill in the whole thing, and the experience didn't even mean a quickened heart beat."
Nevertheless, Miss Watson's many friends, are thankful to think of her escape - even if only to have read her vivid description of the situation !"