Witley, June 13, 1917

Wednesday         Cleaned up after yesterday the guns were very dirty, dust etc its very warm wrote [Janie] tonight.  expect to go out tomorrow bivouacing Lots of gas drill these days Longest air raid on London today Am great

The War Diary confirms Percy’s comments about gas drill: “Gas training proceeds daily. All ranks except those in Hospital or on command have been through gas & are fitted & issued with Small Box Respirators.” (1)

air raid June 13, 1917 classroom

The official report of the air raid on London, issued this afternoon, states that “The first bombs were dropped on the eastern outskirts of London at about 11:30 a.m. Numerous bombs fell in rapid succession in various districts in the east end. One bomb fell in a railway station, hitting an incoming train. Seven persons were killed and seventeen injured here. Another bomb fell on a school, killing ten and injuring about fifty children. A number of warehouses were damaged and fires were caused. … The air raid over London lasted about fifteen minutes. The raiders were engaged by guns of the East London defences and a large number of airplanes of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service were sent up as soon as the enemy was reported off the coast. Several engagements took place in the air, but the results at present are uncertain.” (2) Fifteen German aircraft were reported, flying in triangular formations of three or five craft, “tiny little things like gilded fish miles up, almost invisible” (3), beyond the reach of the anti-aircraft guns.

The War Summary in tomorrow’s Globe will tell its Toronto readers that “No damage of a military character was inflicted. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the nation that rejoiced in the murder of women and children on the Lusitania … will see in the killing and injuring of school children something to boast of.” (4)

(1) War Diary of the Fifth Canadian Divisional Artillery. Vol. 5 (June 1917): 2. June 14-18, 1917.  Library and Archives of Canada.
(2) “Nearly 100 killed by air raiders in 15-minute flight over London.” The Globe (1844-1936). June 14, 1917: 1. Archive available from ProQuest Historical Newspapers
(3) “Children at desks killed by Hun raiders.”  The Globe (1844-1936). June 14, 1917: 1.
(4) “War Summary.”  The Globe (1844-1936). June 14, 1917: 1.

The photograph, from the Tower Hamlets Archive Library, is of a classroom in an East Poplar school destroyed in the raid.

Copyright 2017. See “More about this project.”

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