King’s Lynn at War ~ From Zeppelins to Conkers

Zeppelin L4 – A menacing object in the night skies above King’s Lynn.

On Wednesday evening King’s Lynn Town Guides presented the annual Diana Bullock Memorial Lecture at the Town Hall – King’s Lynn at War, From Zeppelins to Conkers.

Guest speaker Paul Coleman described how the first Zeppelin raid on Britain took place over East Anglia on the night of 19th January, 1915.

The L4 Zeppelin, under the command of Kapitanleutnant Count Magnus von Platen-Hallermund, flew along the Norfolk coast dropping bombs along the way at Sheringham, Brancaster, Heacham, Snettisham, Dersingham, Grimston and finally King’s Lynn.

The first bomb to land on Lynn fell in a field at the rear of Tennyson Avenue.

The next fell on allotments but the next one caused fatalities when it hit houses on Bentinck Road killing Percy Goate aged 14 and Alice Gazely aged 26. Both are reported to have died from shock.

Houses in Bentinck Road were destroyed.

L4 dropped another bomb on some terraced houses where it made a large hole and wrecked a blacksmiths but caused no fatalities. The fifth bomb to fall on King’s Lynn fell in a garden by the docks failing to explode the sixth destroyed an engine at Alexandra Dock.

The last two bombs fell at and around Cresswell Street where the family at No 63 had a lucky escape when an incendiary hit the house causing a fire which was extinguished by neighbours. This final bomb was placed in water by the police and taken into their care. In total the raid on King’s Lynn led to two fatalities and thirteen injured.

Paul Coleman went on to tell the amusing story of how Zeppelins flying over clouds would dangle a member of the crew on a rope, who would then use a telephone to let them know when to drop the bombs!

He also told the story of how school children and boy scouts from across the region collected tons of conkers to aid the war effort. Conkers contain acetone, a vital ingredient used in the production of cordite, a propellant in small arms ammunition and artillery.

By the dockside in King’s Lynn there was a factory producing as much as 90,000 gallons of acetone a year from maize and horse-chestnuts (conkers).

 

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