Centenary of first Zeppelin raid over Norfolk

Albert Street in King's Lynn in 1915 following a bombing raid by German Zeppelins. Credit: PA Wire

A hundred years ago the Germans launched the first proper air raid on British shores heralding a new era of warfare, but their first targets were chosen entirely by chance.

Report by Rebecca Barry

On the 19th and 20th of January 1915, two German Zeppelins were heading for Humberside but were diverted by strong winds.

They found themselves over Norfolk and went on to drop their bombs on King's Lynn and Great Yarmouth, killing four people and causing more than £7,000 worth of damage.

Military historian Steve Smith said that both pilots found themsleves lost, but the one of them managed to use landmarks such as Happisburgh lighthouse to navigate to the strategic target of Great Yarmouth.

The other pilot began dropping bombs randomly, but happened upon King's Lynn where he claimed two lives and caused a significant amount of damage.

A German Zeppelin is seen over Norfolk

Unlike during the Blitz in the Second World War, London was spared aerial bombing since the Kaiser had banned it because of the potential of harming the Royal family, to whom he was related.

Zeppelin raids would claim 435 British lives in the First World War and changed the nature of warfare forever.