Zeppelin Raid
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By today’s standards of drones and supersonic aerial warfare, Germany’s  First World War Zeppelins were cumbersome and fragile. Yet they struck fear among terrified Britons, with their indiscriminate  bombing raids. Holcombe felt the might of these “cigar-shaped engines of death” – or  “baby killers” as they were also called - on the night of September 25,  1916. Zeppelin LZ61, tactical number L21, commanded by 29-year-old  Oberleutnant Kurt Frankenburg, flew over the village after dropping bombs  in the Rossendale Valley, damaging buildings in Bacup and Rawtenstall but  inflicting no casualties. Its bombs were loosed on Holcombe within a radius of 500 yards. One landed  on pasture land before a larger device fell in the main road between the  Shoulder of Mutton, then a farm and country inn, and what was then the  Post Office, opposite the car park. Twenty of the pub’s windows were shattered and the front door was broken  in half. The house opposite suffered major damage and shrapnel  indentations can still be seen on the stone window lintels.  A further bomb was  dropped on Holcombe  School, severely damaging  the building.  The blast  also stopped the church  clock and smashed  windows. The next device destroyed a hen run and a wall and the last  bomb fell in a field at Helmshore.  Mercifully there were no casualties  . . . except for a thrush which was  later preserved in a glass case at Holcombe School.  The Zeppelin then headed  over Ramsbottom,  dropping two bombs. One  landed in Regent Street,  wrecking machinery and lorries at a mineral works, the other blew a crater  in a field between Victoria Street and Tanners Street. L21 then flew over Greenmount, dropping two incendiary bombs. One  landed harmlessly but the second went through the roof of a cottage on  Holcombe Road, starting a fierce fire. The family escaped unharmed as  neighbours fought the flames. Oberleutnant  Frankenburg and his crew next headed towards Bolton,  where, in a final deadly flourish, they blitzed the town centre with five  bombs, killing thirteen people and seriously injuring nine more.  The airship then passed over Blackburn and then headed for the coast passing near Whitby after dropping one last bomb at  Bolton Abbey. Two months later, following another raid, Frankenburger’s airship was shot down off Lowestoft on its way back to  Germany. All crewmen perished and the 180-metre L21 disappeared into the sea. Ironically, the airship’s foray to the North West may have been brought about either by mistake or bad navigating.  Zeppelins carried no guidance systems so raids were often hit and miss. In January 1916 it had been ordered to bomb  Liverpool, but instead targeted Wednesbury and Walsall in the West Midlands. Its next raid should have been on the factories of Derby, but navigation and engine problems brought it over Cleethorpes,  where bombs were dropped.  On the night of the Holcombe attack seven months later its intended targets were believed to be foundries in the  Midlands. The Holcombe website acknowledges Peter J C Smith’s book Zeppelins  Over Lancashire, published by Neil Richardson 1n  1991, and an article on the Florida Standard website. See link:  http://www.thefloridastandard.com/2014/01/19/the-story-of-zeppelin-l21/#sthash.TpyoggPp.dpuf