Children who were injured by the Zeppelin air raids on London during World War 1, receive treatment in hospital; ca. 1915
The campaign against England started in January 1915 using airships. From then until the end of World War I the German Navy and Army Air Services mounted over 50 bombing raids on the United Kingdom. These were generally referred to as “Zeppelin raids”: although both Zeppelin and Schütte-Lanz airships were used, the Zeppelin company was much better known and was responsible for producing the vast majority of the airships used. Weather conditions and night flying conditions made airship navigation and therefore bombing accuracy difficult. Bombs were often dropped miles off target (one raid on London actually bombed Hull) and accurate targeting of military installations was impossible. The civilian casualties made the Zeppelins an object of hatred, and they were widely dubbed “baby-killers”. With the development of effective defensive measures the airship raids became increasingly hazardous, and in 1917 the airships were largely replaced by aeroplanes. (From Wikipedia)
A very good recent documentary on this subject which was originally aired as “Attack of the Zeppelins” in Britain: Zeppelin Terror Attack – PBS Nova
This bombing was so complete that most people died not from the bombs but from suffocation as the city-wide fire used up all the oxygen from the air.
“…one of the air raid precautions the city had taken was to remove the thick cellar walls between rows of buildings, and replace them with thin partitions that could be knocked through in an emergency. The idea was that, as one building collapsed or filled with smoke, those using the basement as a shelter could knock the walls down and run into adjoining buildings. With the city on fire everywhere, those fleeing from one burning cellar simply ran into another, with the result that thousands of bodies were found piled up in houses at the end of city blocks…” (Source)
People so often forget Dresden when they discuss the horrors of WWII. I guess with the horror of the atomic bomb and the Holocaust the simple firebombing of a town is somewhat less horrific to discuss but the devastation caused there was nearly unimaginable.
“It is not possible to describe! Explosion after explosion. It was beyond belief, worse than the blackest nightmare. So many people were horribly burnt and injured. It became more and more difficult to breathe …
… fire everywhere, everywhere fire, and all the time the hot wind of the firestorm threw people back into the burning houses they were trying to escape from.”
— Lothar Metzger, survivor.