On night of the 13th October 1915, England experienced one of the worst air raids of the First World War, when five German Zeppelins flew in formation with the intention of bombing London. One of the Zeppelin commanders, Oberleutnant-zur-See Werner Peterson, became lost and, mistaking the curve of the river Lea for the Thames, dropped 48 incendiary and explosive bombs on Hertford.
Annie Swan lived in North House on North Road and described the raid in her book “My Life”
I find it difficult to describe that appalling five minutes’ interlude, while the monster ship with its death-dealing cargo passed slowly over our town, visiting us last and dropping eight bombs on our house and garden. The first of the bombs had destroyed the power station, so that the town was plunged in utter darkness. There were lights from the sky, however, as the incendiary bombs rapidly followed the explosive ones to complete the devilish work.
I had the feeling that it was the Day of Judgement, as we stood there, holding on to one another.
Presently the great monster sailed over us, so low down that it brushed the topmost branches of the old cedar tree on the lawn.
Bombs landed on the Folly, in Bull Plain outside Lombard House, near Old Cross and along North Road where iron railings were sent flying through the windows of Hertford County Hospital.
Nine people were killed in the zeppelin attack on Hertford. Seven working men, one soldier and a four year old boy. Unusually their names are all listed on the Hertford War Memorial.
James L Gregory, 55, organist of All Saints and professor of music
Ernest Thomas Jolly, 27, bank cashier
John Henry Jevons, 67, Borough Surveyor of Hertford
George Cartledge, 56, linen draper
Charles Waller, 43, labourer
Arthur Hart, 51, labourer
George Stephen Game, 4
Charles Spicer, 30, labourer
Arthur James Cox of Yarmouth, bombardier in the Norfolk Regiment, stationed in Hertford.
If you’d like to learn more about the Zeppelin raid and Hertford during the First World War then visit our exhibition From Bull Plain to the Battlefields or pick up a copy of the accompanying book!