The impact of the first Zeppelin attack on our locality

The impact of Zeppelin bombing on our area

Aerial bombing of Britain began in January 1915. By the end of the War it accounted for some 1,417 deaths, and 3,400 injuries. York’s first attack was on 2 May 1916, and resulted in nine deaths and some 40 injuries. A Zeppelin flew over South Bank, Nunnery Lane and Bishophill. Bombs were dropped and there were casualties and extensive damage to property.

We’ve recently found eye-witness accounts of the event in Scarcroft School archives and these help to show how the Home Front had now become the War Front. Norah Chapman of Nunthorpe Avenue wrote to her friend, Annie Ryder, from York County Hospital on 8 May: … my poor darling sister was killed in the air raid, my dear darling mother has had her left arm shot off and I am very badly wounded at the top of my right arm, and 3 wounds in my back…The house is absolutely wrecked.

This was a new form of warfare that brought the horror of war to the Home Front. With support from the Heritage Lottery Fund for our project we were able to explore a deeper understanding of the experience, and responses to it.

Our small group of local people achieved the following:

  • joint activity with schools, providing resource material for Zeppelin plaques, a trail and for school assemblies. Invited to talk to a primary school class
  • discovery and use of new historical sources, for example eye-witness accounts and school log-book entries
  • engagement with descendants of those affected by the Zeppelin raid
  • use of social media to publicise events, including live tweeting of the raid at @ZeppelinWW1Live, 100 years later
  • providing material for a York Press feature, and participating in an interview on BBC Radio York
  • presenting the results of our research at a public meeting attended by 80 people, and featuring displays by three local schools
  • commissioning a film record of our activity. This is now online here
  • using online resources such as HistoryPin to map stories

To find out more follow this link.

If you would like to help contact us by email at or leave a telephone message on 01904 466086.

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