Zeppelin Raid on Croydon, 1915

Sisters Naomi and Louisa Kemp outside the remains of their home at 34 Leslie Park Road, Croydon. Imperial War Museum image: Bomb damage at 33 Leslie Park Road, Croydon, sustained during the Zeppelin raid on the night of 13 - 14 October 1915. © IWM (HO 26) Sisters Naomi Murrell (left) and Louisa Kemp outside the remains of their home at 34 Leslie Park Road, Croydon. Imperial War Museum image: Bomb damage at 33 Leslie Park Road, Croydon, sustained during the Zeppelin raid on the night of 13 – 14 October 1915. © IWM (HO 26)

On 13 October 1915 five German airships left their bases on the northern coast of Germany bound for London. As they flew across southern England the spectacle of the enormous craft picked out by searchlights against the dark sky was watched with astonishment by thousands of people.

Zeppelin L14 had set off from Nordholz, under the command of 36 year old Kapitanleutenant Alois Böcker. In the blackout conditions his crew struggled to navigate accurately as they flew across the Kent coast. They bombed an army base, Otterpool Camp near Hythe, thinking it was Woolwich Dockyard. Fifteen Canadian soldiers from the 5th Brigade of the Canadian Second Division Artillery were killed and eleven wounded. Heading inland for London and seeing the railway lines and roads of Croydon, the crew of L14  possibly thought they had reached their target. Turning back to cross the town from west to east they began to drop their bombs shortly after 11pm.

Bomb damage to properties on Edridge Road, Croydon, probably sustained during the Zeppelin raid on the night of 13 - 14 October 1915. Imperial War Museum collection ref: © IWM (HO 16) Bomb damage to properties on Edridge Road, Croydon, probably sustained during the Zeppelin raid on the night of 13 – 14 October 1915. Imperial War Museum collection ref: © IWM (HO 16)

A mother and daughter were thrown from their house into Edridge Road and a baby was left trapped in the wreckage, although he was subsequently rescued unharmed by the fire brigade. Then three young boys, Brien (10 years old), Gordon (14) and Roy Currie (15) were killed when their home at 12 Beech House Road was hit.

Air Raids and Bomb Damage: Damage to a terraced house in Beech House Road, Croydon. Five Zeppelins raided London on 13 - 14 October 1915. Imperial War Museum © IWM (HO 18) Air Raids and Bomb Damage: Damage to a terraced house in Beech House Road, Croydon. Five Zeppelins raided London on 13 – 14 October 1915. Imperial War Museum © IWM (HO 18)

More bombs fell on Oval Road killing two people and damaging a school, and there were further deaths in Morland Road and St. James Road. A mother was killed along with her son and daughter in their home at Stretton Road, South Norwood, before the Zeppelin began its journey back to Nordholz. In total nine people died in Croydon that night, and fifteen were seriously injured.

Böcker went on to fly other missions over England. In September 1916 he was forced to make a crash landing in Essex, where he and his crew were taken prisoner.

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5 Responses to “Zeppelin Raid on Croydon, 1915”

  1. John Murrell

    Naomi Kemp in the image of the damaged house in at 34 Leslie Park Road, Croydon was my grandmother. She married Albert Murrell on 12th December 1914 so was actually Naomi Murrell att he time the picture was taken. My grandfather was given 3 weeks leave from the Western Front to find them a new house. My grandmother saw the picture in the anniversary edition of the Croydon Advertiser in 1969 and was interviewed by a reporter the story appearing in a subsequent edition of the paper.

    • Barrie Higham

      Thanks for getting in touch John. Delighted to see your comment. Which one of the two young ladies is Naomi? If you have a copy of the interview with your grandmother we would love to see it.

      • John Murrell

        Hello Barrie,

        Sorry for the delay in responding but I have only just stumbled upon your response. I am pretty sure that my grandmother Mrs Naomi Murrell (nee Kemp) is the most prominent of the two females in the picture.

        I am not aware where the second person being ‘Louisa Kemp’ has come from – the census records show she shared the house with her sister Sarah Kemp though it is possible it was ‘Lucy’ Jane Kemp. Naomi had three elder sisters Sarah, Jane & Lydia as well as 4 brothers. They originated from Punnets Town in Sussex.

        My Grandfather lived with his parents in what was probably a ‘tied’ cottage on the Ballards Estate in Croydon. My great grandfather was the Estate Blacksmith and my grandfather was described as ‘Blacksmiths Assistant’.

        Following the bombing they moved to a huose in ‘old town’ in Croydon and then to 55 Chelsham Road in Croydon.

        I have a fairly poor scanned copy of the article in the Croydon Advertiser where my grandmother was interviewed following the publication of the photo above in 1969. If you send me your contact email I will let you have a copy.

        Regards

        John Murrell

        • Barrie Higham, Surrey Heritage

          Hello John,

          Thank you for replying. We are very interested in gathering family memories to add to the official records so this really helpful. Kelly’s Surrey Directory of 1913 has “Kemp Louisa. Jane (Miss), dress maker” living at 34 Leslie Park Road so yes I think that must by Lucy Jane. If you can send the scanned copy that would be great, my email address is [email protected]

          Barrie Higham

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