Zeppelins over Essex: 31 March 1916
Blackmore residents had a very close shave a hundred years ago when the German Zeppelin L14 dropped bombs in the parish. The stained glass in what is now the kitchen of St Laurence Church commemorates the night with these words: “This window is erected as a thank-offering to Almighty God for the protection in the Great Air Raid of March 31st 1916” (see illustration).
Andrew Smith has researched what happened that night and tells the story in a presentation to be given to the High Country History Group on 31 March 2016 (8pm Toot Hill Village Hall), and this summer, on 16 June, at the Friends of St Laurence Church Blackmore AGM.
The Rector of Stondon Massey, Revd. Reeve recorded details in his ‘Notes for a Parish History’: He lived at the Rectory, what is now Stondon Massey House.
“At 11.45[p.m.] a Zeppelin dropped a series of bombs at the point where is the junction of Stondon with the parishes of Blackmore and Kelvedon Hatch: within easy distance of Soap House Farm. A machine-gun had been lately established at Kelvedon Hatch to watch for the raiders … causing it to drop the bombs hurriedly.
“Large numbers of persons from Brentwood and the surrounding district visited the spot next day, and the large craters caused by the bombs, some 15 feet in diameter and varying from 3 to 9 feet in depth, were the astonishment of all. The whole saucer-like cavities were left entirely clean by the explosion. … Nine of the thirteen holes were quickly found: and fortunately no life was lost or building injured. … Our windows at Stondon Rectory were violently shaken and considerable alarm was naturally caused.
“Further enquiry shows that the bombs dropped on March 31st fell between the Soap House and the corner of Blackmore between the Church and Miss Barrett’s house. Two were dropped in the lane near the site of the old Blackmore Mill. The remaining holes were to be found in a straight-line across the fields to Miss Barrett’s at very short intervals. Many panes of glass were broken in the house by the concussion.”
Four people were killed in Braintree that night by the same Zeppelin crew. To hear the full story come along to Andrew’s talk.