British Homefront during WW1. Germany’s strategic air attacks against British cities and civilian targets in 1917.

German bomber crew among those who took part in the attack (IWM)

During the war Britain had experienced several air raids on cities by Zeppelins but in 1917 Germany started strategically bombing British cities using bomber aircraft instead of their slow-moving Zeppelins.

On Wednesday 13 June 1917, 20 German bombers called Gotha GI. V’s took off from airfields in Ghent, Belgium to start the strategic bombing of London which was called Operation Tûrkenkreuz. Some aircraft dropped bombs on Margate, three bombs hit Shoeburyness and the remaining fourteen aircraft flew over east London.  

After dropping bombs on Barking, East Ham and the docks in East London by 12pm 70 bombs had been dropped near Liverpool Street Station; three hit the station killing 100 people and a further 400 were injured.

Upper North Street School was a London primary school in Popular which was rebuilt after the war and is now called Mayflower Primary School (the road is still called Upper North Street).

Upper North Street school was full with children when the German bombers flew over and dropped two 110 lb (50Kg) bombs which crashed through the roof then through the  top two floors before exploding in the ground floor class room killing 18 children, sixteen of whom were aged between four and six years old, 30 children were seriously injured and two older children were killed as the bombs passed through the upper floors of the building.

Upper North Street School (IWM)

15 children were buried together in an east London cemetery and the last coffin in the funeral procession contained the remains of children who could not be identified.

School caretaker Benjamin Batt whose son was killed in the explosion looking for body parts

Author: Alan Malcher

Military historian and defence commentator

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