German Zeppelin raid on Ramsbottom
The night of September 25th 1916 was clear and bright with stars. Suddenly there was a boom, boom, boom coming gradually nearer; bright flashes turned night into day. It was a German Zeppelin carrying a deadly load of bombs. The first bomb fell near Giles Taylor's mineral water works in Regent Street, scattering broken glass, bottles and corks for forty yards around. Most of the machinery was damaged and two lorries were smashed. A timber joist was torn from the building and hurled thirty five yards, landing upright in a field. Adjoining cottages had windows broken, doors bursted and slates blown off but luckily no one was hurt.
Holcombe was the next target for the raider, six bombs being dropped within a radius of 500 yards. Some landed harmlessly in pasture land but one large one fell in the main road between what is now the Shoulder of Mutton car park and the single house opposite. The house suffered considerable damage but was repaired and still stands. A further bomb fell by the gable (Helmshore end) of Holcombe School, causing severe damage, also breaking the church clock and smashing windows.
The other bombs obliterated a hen run and blew over a wall. One further bomb was dropped in a field at Helmshore.
On its way back over the English Channel the Zeppelin raider was shot down and disappeared into the sea.
From the Rossendale Free Press:
A HUGE Zeppelin airship struck fear into Rossendalians in a night-time bombing raid that went wrong.
For Count Zeppelin’s airmen showed their incompetence by following the wrong train and dropping between 10 and 12 bombs on soft earth. The 179-metre-long "cigar-shaped engine of death" – as it was popularly called – was witnessed over Lumb, Rawtenstall, Ewood Bridge, Stonefold, Haslingden, Helmshore, Holcombe and Ramsbottom.
It was seen over Lumb shortly after midnight on 25 September 1916, after following a train pilots thought was heading for Manchester. It became almost stationary over Bacup for a while and then resumed its course. Bombs were clearly visible as they fell in the raid that ended at 2.45am.
Schoolboy Jack Waddington, of Back Chapel Street, Haslingden, said: "As soon as I heard the Zeppelin I was under the bed in a flash. All the lights were out as was the custom in war but a lot of people went out into the streets."
One bomb dropped near Clod Lane, Haslingden, where there was a gun cotton factory. Another target was a farm in Lumb (no damage), and bombs dropped on Rawtenstall broke several windows.
Google, just to add a little to the report from the Free Press, three dropped in Holcombe, the first right in the bottom corner of the field just over the wall from the school, the second at the junction of Chapel / Helmshore Rd by the second entrance to the Shoulder car park and the third harmlessly in a field by the 'old kennels'. The only casualty was a song thrush which was duly stuffed put in a glass case, labelled 'the only casualty of the Zepp............ etc' and kept on display in the village school until very recently.
And believe it or not on the official list of British in the first world war memorials alongside those in Flanders and the grave to the unknown soldier Ref : Memorial No10661
Airships" carrying brilliant lights were also reported from the north coast of Devon, and by a police constable near Bury in Lancashire. PC Woods told the Manchester Daily Dispatch how his attention was drawn to a strange object manoeuvring above Holcombe Hill. "I saw two big flashlights which I watched for about a quarter of an hour. The lights, which were very powerful, were shone over the hill, and I could see objects on the hill quite distinctly." The airship then disappeared in the direction of Ramsbottom .
Zepplin Raid On Rossendale
Note: this attack smashed the front windows of the house of Marie PROSSOR (then Marie BRAMHILL) in Chapel Terrace. My father also wrote of the event. Though he was only aged three, it made a big impact and apparently took place at the end of a long walk with his father from Liverpool.