German Airship Hits Central London

Sep 8, 1915:

German airship hits central London

On September 8, 1915, a German Zeppelin commanded by Heinrich Mathy, one of the great airship commanders of World War I, hits Aldersgate in central London, killing 22 people and causing £500,000 worth of damage.

The Zeppelin, a motor-driven rigid airship, was developed by German inventor Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin in 1900. Although a French inventor had built a power-driven airship several decades before, the von Zeppelin-designed rigid dirigible, with its steel framework, was by far the largest airship ever constructed. However, in the case of the zeppelin, size was exchanged for safety, as the heavy steel-framed airships were vulnerable to explosion because they had to be lifted by highly flammable hydrogen gas instead of non-flammable helium gas.

The Germans enjoyed great success with the Zeppelin over the course of 1915 and 1916, terrorizing the skies over the British Isles. The first Zeppelin attack on London came on May 31, 1915; it killed 28 people and wounded 60 more. By May 1916, the Germans had killed a total of 550 Britons with aerial bombing.

One of the best-known Zeppelin pilots was Heinrich Mathy, born in 1883 in Mannheim, Germany. Flying his famed airship L13 on September 8, 1915, Mathy dropped his bombs on the Aldersgate area of central London, causing great damage by fire and killing 22 people.

The following summer, Mathy piloted a new Zeppelin, the L31 in more attacks on London on the night of August 24-25, 1916. His ship was damaged upon landing; while he was waiting for repairs to be made, Mathy received word that the British had managed for the first time to shoot down a Zeppelin, using incendiary bullets. Shortly after that, Mathy wrote pessimistically: “It is only a question of time before we join the rest. Everyone admits that they feel it. Our nerves are ruined by mistreatment. If anyone should say that he was not haunted by visions of burning airships, then he would be a braggart.” True to his prediction, Mathy’s L31 was shot down during a raid on London on the night of October 1-2, 1916. He is buried in Staffordshire, in a cemetery constructed for the burial of Germans killed on British soil during both World Wars.

 

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Update 9-2 : New Pictures Added to the Website

New pictures have been added to the following pages:

  • Tiger 2 – King Tiger
  • Sd.Kfz. 2, 4, 6-11, 222, 231-232, 234, and 250-254
  • Specialized Vehicles or Odd Devices and Equipment
  • Field Marshall Walter Model
  • War Medals and Decorations
  • German WW2 Medical Korps
  • Bundeswehr
  • Luftwaffe – After WW2
  • December 44 Historical Museum – La Gleize, Belgium
  • La Roche-en-Ardenne 44 Museum
  • Normandy 70th Anniversary of D-Day- Dog Green Camp at Omaha Beach -2014
  • Heinkel He 115 Recovery
  • A WW2 German Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer, tank destroyer recovered from the Baltic Sea
  • Militracks Overloon 2012 – Oorlogsmuseum Overloon, Netherlands.

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Update 9-1 : New Pictures Added to the Website

 

New Pictures have been added to the website on the following pages:

  • Field Marshall Erwin Rommel
  • General Heinz Guderian
  • World War 2 Field Marshalls
  • World War 2 Generals
  • SS Officers, NCOs, Etc.
  • War Medals and Decorations
  • Fortress Europe – The Atlantic Wall
  • German WW2 Medical Korps
  • Bundeswehr
  • Panzer IV
  • Tiger 1
  • Tiger 2 – King Tiger
  • Panther
  • Jagdtiger
  • StuG III
  • Sd.Kfz. 2, 4, 6-11, 222, 231-232, 234, and 250-254
  • Pak Anti-Tank Guns – 37 MM Pak 36, 50 MM Pak 38, and 75 MM Pak 40
  • The Tank Museum (Formerly Bovington Tank Museum) – England
  • Baugnez 44 Historical Center – Belgium
  • War and Peace Revival Event – England
  • Special Collection of Photos from Boelcke’s Grandfather

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The British cross the Gothic Line

Aug 31, 1944:

The British cross the Gothic Line

 

On this day in 1944, the British 8th Army breaks through the Germans’ “Gothic Line,” a defensive line drawn across northern Italy.

The Allies had pushed the German occupying troops on the Italian peninsula farther and farther north. On June 4, U.S. Gen. Mark Clark had captured Rome. Now the Germans had dug in north of Florence. Built earlier in the year, this defensive line consisted of fortified towns, stretching from Pisa in the west to Pesaro in the east. One of these towns was Siena, home to much glorious medieval art—also home to the Italian partisans, guerillas who had been harassing the Germans and remnants of Italian fascists since Italy had surrendered. Their ability to create chaos and confusion behind the Germans’ own lines was of great aid to the Allies.

Expert strategic maneuvering by British General Harold Alexander, who opened his offensive on August 25, surprised the Germans, and the 8th Army swept through the Plain of Lombardy, crashing through the Gothic Line.

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Battles of the Frontiers fought near Ardennes and Charleroi

Aug 21, 1914:

Battles of the Frontiers fought near Ardennes and Charleroi

 

On this day in 1914, the second and third of what will be four “Battles of the Frontiers” fought between German and Allied forces on the Western Front during a four-day period in August 1914 begin near Ardennes and Charleroi in northern France.

During the first month of the Great War, with Germany advancing on France through Belgium, cutting a wide swath of violence on its way, French Commander in Chief Joseph Joffre pushed his 1st and 2nd Armies into the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine—forfeited to Germany after the Franco-Prussian War in 1871—against the German left wing. Joffre left the French 5th Army to counter the German right flank, which was swinging down north of the Meuse River, and sent his 3rd and 4th Armies to attack in the forests of Ardennes, where French army headquarters believed the enemy was relatively weak. Though German forces entered and occupied the Belgian capital city, Brussels, on August 20, French morale was strong, and Joffre remarked to his minister of war, Adolphe Messimy, that night: “There is reason to await with confidence the development of operations.”

In fact, the German 4th and 5th Armies were pushing into the Ardennes as well, and on the foggy morning of August 21, French and German troops clashed in the second of four bloody confrontations that would collectively become known as the Battles of the Frontiers. (The first had occurred the day before, in Lorraine, when the French 1st and 2nd Armies were battered by the Germans at Sarrebourg and Morhange and forced to retreat.) At Ardennes, the French threw themselves forward with bayonets in a classic offensive maneuver—in accordance with their Plan 17 strategy, the French were convinced their glorious élan, or spirit, would carry them inexorably to victory. Instead, they came face to face with the superior artillery and entrenched machine guns of the Germans, and were brutally mown down in great numbers.

On the same day, August 21, the French 5th Army, commanded by General Charles Lanrezac clashed with General Karl von Bulow’s 2nd German Army in the Battle of Charleroi, located to the north near the junction of the Sambre and Meuse rivers. The 5th Army, due to be supported by the newly arrived 100,000 soldiers of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF)—the largest number the tiny, professionally trained British army could send at the beginning of the war—instead had to fight alone, as a British delay and poor relations between Lanrezac and the BEF’s commander, Sir John French, resulted in the British and French fighting two separate battles simultaneously—the Battle of Charleroi and the Battle of Mons, the fourth of the Battles of the Frontiers, which began on August 23—instead of fighting together as planned, to the detriment of both armies.

Over the course of the next three days, French, German and British forces would confront the strength of modern firepower for the first time, and all were shocked and devastated by its effects. In terms of numbers engaged and number of losses suffered over a comparable period of combat, the Battles of the Frontiers would remain the greatest struggles of World War I. More importantly, as a result of its convincing defeat of the French forces over those four days, Germany began consolidating its eventual hold on Belgium and northern France, which would give it control of the majority of the industrial power of both nations—coal, iron ore, factories, railroads and rivers—and give it the confidence to pursue its goal of victory to the bitter end.

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Update 8-16 : New Pictures Added to the Website

Berlin, Mobilmachung

New pictures have been added to the website:

  • Heinkel He 115 Recovery
  • Tiger 1 Replica
  • Fortress Europe – The Atlantic Wall
  • Field Marshall Günther von Kluge
  • Field Marshall Walter Model
  • Field Marshall Gerd von Rundstedt
  • Field Marshall Erwin Rommel
  • World War 2 Field Marshalls
  • World War 2 Generals
  • Fuhrer Adolf Hitler
  • Baugnez 44 Historical Center – Belgium
  • WW2 Allies – Kingdom of Hungary
  • Bundeswehr

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Battle of Langemarck

Aug 16, 1917:

Battle of Langemarck

On August 16, 1917, in a renewed thrust of the Allied offensive launched at the end of July in the Flanders region of Belgium—known as the Third Battle of Ypres, or simply as Passchendaele, for the village that saw the heaviest fighting—British troops capture the village of Langemarck from the Germans.

The ambitious, meticulously planned offensive, masterminded by the British commander in chief Sir Douglas Haig, began on July 31 with a British and French attack on German positions near the village of Passchendaele, located in Flanders in the much-contested Ypres Salient. After the initial assault met with less success than had been anticipated, heavy rains and thickening mud bogged down the Allied infantry and artillery and prevented them from renewing the offensive until the second week of August. On August 16, at Langemarck, to the west of Passchendaele, four days of fierce fighting resulted in a British victory; the gains were small, however, for the high number of casualties incurred.

Though a German counterattack recovered much of the ground gained at Langemarck, British forces retained the initiative in the region, aided by the use of tanks and by a diversionary attack by the French at Verdun, where more than 5,000 German soldiers were taken prisoner. By the end of September, the British were able to establish control over the ridge of land to the east of Ypres, and Haig pushed his commanders in the region to continue the attacks towards the Passchendaele ridge. As the offensive stretched into October, Allied troops reached near-exhaustion as the Germans reinforced their positions in the region with reserve troops released from the Eastern Front.

After Canadian and British troops finally captured Passchendaele on November 6, 1917, Haig called off the offensive, claiming victory for his men. In sum, a total of some 310,000 British casualties, as opposed to 260,000 on the German side, and a failure to create any substantial breakthrough on the Western Front, made the Third Battle of Ypres one of the most costly and controversial offensives of World War I.

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