The LANE/LAIN(E)s of Ulster, Ireland, Chapter 7
The "LANE Family" section of this site is divided into 7 chapters and 6 appendices. Please read in sequence by following the links at the bottom of each page or use the "Quick Nav" at top right. Please note the companion photo galleries which show the LANE family house ruins in Co. Tyrone, Ireland; the LANEs' Parish church in Lissan; the homes and graves of the LANEs in Jarrow, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. If you wish to select individual chapters, please click on the top left link to the Sitemap page.
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Children (v): Death of Joseph LANE & the Zeppelin Raid [15 Jun 1915 Jarrow]
Let's start with the more contemporary written records relating to Joseph's death. See his headstone in our photogallery. Then, his death notice read:
LANE.—Jarrow, 25, Bede Burn Road, killed at Palmer's Works, on the night of June 15th, 1915, aged 67, Joseph, dearly beloved husband of Jane Lane. Interment on Saturday, leaving residence at 2 p.m. All friends kindly accept this intimation n/v).
His death certificate gave further information, with the new occupation of mechanical engineer rather than marine engineer, telling how he was killed:
… Occupation: a mechanical engineer of 25 Bede Burn road, Jarrow. Cause of death: Killed by the explosion of bombs, dropped from a hostile aircraft. Informant: Certificate received from Reginald A. Shepherd Deputy Coroner for Chester Ward— Inquest held 17 June 1915.
Then there was a memorial for Joseph in St. John's Wesleyan Church, Jarrow… demolished in 1964 with a tree-lined patch in its place fb/viii). Some newspaper reports of the unveiling on 15 Aug 1920 said:
The Rev. J.C. Nattrass, superintendent minister, on Sunday unveiled a brass tablet at the Wesleyan Church, Jarrow, in memory of seven members of the congregation who lost their lives in the war n/vi).
ALSO: In memory of fallen Wesleyans. The Rev. J.C. Nattrass, at St. John's Wesleyan Church, Jarrow, on Sunday night, unveiled a brass tablet, which has been placed in the porch by the congregation, to the memory of seven members who lost their lives in the war. The names on the tablet are: Second Lieut. Arthur Coulson, M.M.; Private William Allison, Private Robert Dixon, Petty Officer Henry Pattinson, Corporal Thomas E. Slack, Private George B. Smith and Joseph Lane, who was killed at Palmers Works during the air raid on June 15, 1915. The tablet, which is framed in oak and 3 feet 6 inches in length by 24 inches in width, has been engraved by Mr. M. Hamilton, of Jarrow, who is 80 years of age. n/viI).
The victims & circumstances in Jarrow.
My friend Vin Mullen of Jarrow has worked in shipyards and has taken an especial interest in this bombing over a long period. He wrote the following article edited by Janis Blower, explaining the difficulties of researching such an event in the Shields Gazette and also provided links to his photos of 4 of the victims' graves:
Rediscovering tragedy of shipyard bombing.
Every inch of the place we call home has a story to tell. It goes right down there through the layers of history. This picture (here) is a case in point. Censorship was such during the First World War that, for years afterwards, accounts of some of its most dramatic episodes could only be put together like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. Gravestones were some of the ways in which connections could be made, so that visiting a cemetery can be like following an unfolding tale. This (picture) is one of four graves in the Jarrow Cemetery which have recently been contributed by Jarrow man Vin Mullen to the Geograph British Isles project. This aims to collect information for every square kilometre of Great Britain and Ireland.
Vin's contributions are all poignant reminders of the Zeppelin raid on Jarrow in the summer of 1915, which claimed 17 lives at Palmer's shipyard and engine works. The eldest victim was 67, the youngest, boys just in their teens. The grave (here) is of William Grieves Turner— "Willie" to his family— who was only 20 … see the other graves of Thomas Henry Smith (here), George Ward (here) and William Erskine Young (here), one of the youngest casualties, aged only 16. n/viii).
Strict censorship of the Press was imposed on May 31 1915 following a series of Zeppelin attacks on London. The Admiralty said: "The press are specially reminded that no statement whatever must be published dealing with the places in the neighbourhood of London reached by aircraft, or the course proposed to be taken by them, or any statement or diagram which might indicate the ground covered by them. The Admiralty communiqué is all the news which can be properly be published." b/iv… p95-96)
This censorship was extended to other Zeppelin events and thus the story of the North-east coast raid was only partly told by the newspapers of the day. The first report on Thur, Jun 17 gave few details:
Air raid on North-east coast. Several persons killed and wounded. Bombs cause fires. What an aerial attack looks like. Official return of casualties.
The twelfth Zeppelin raid on Britain and the second on the North East Coast took place on Tuesday night. The bombs dropped by the craft caused several fires, and several persons were killed and injured. For military reasons the places visited by the aircraft are not announced in the official report by the Admiralty, which says:—
A Zeppelin visited the North-East Coast on Tuesday evening, and dropped bombs. Several fires were started, but have been overcome. Fifteen deaths are reported from the district, and fifteen wounded n/iv).
The following day, the press reported the inquests:
North-east coast air raid. The inquests on the victims. Town bombed. Shells fall in rapid succession. For seven minutes.
Several inquests were held yesterday on the victims of the Zeppelin raid on the North-East Coast on Tuesday. The first inquest in the afternoon was held on the following victims:— (See list in table below). Bombardment for seven minutes.
Sympathy with the relatives of the victims was expressed by the Coroner and jury. A superintendent of police stated that about 11:40 p.m. on the day in question he saw a Zeppelin. Within a few minutes of seeing the airship it discharged missiles. The flashes were followed by reports. Ralph Errington stated that at 11:40 p.m. he heard two reports which were not much heavier than others. Half a minute later there were about fourteen reports one after the other. Some were heavier than others. It seemed to last six or seven minutes. The Coroner said they could not take the matter any further. They knew aircraft had been over, and they only had to deal with the effects. The jury returned a verdict that the deceased men were killed by bombs dropped from a hostile aircraft.
High up in the air. The second inquest— on George Ward, 18, an apprentice fitter and turner, and John Cuthbert Davison, 31, a fitter and turner— was held at night. In the case of Ward, identification was given by Hector Ward, father, who said that on Tuesday his son was working night shift, and he last saw him alive at 9:30, when he was at home for supper. At 11:30 p.m. witness's wife awakened him. Looking out the window, witness saw a Zeppelin high up in the air. It was not carrying any lights. Witness saw a flash of light, which was followed by an explosion. Several other explosions followed like the sound of bursting bombs. He went to the place where the bombs fell. Some were killed and others injured; but he did not see his son. About 3.30, on Wednesday, a driver of an ambulance van called at the house, and informed him that his son had died on the way to the hospital. Witness went there, and found his son had been injured about the head and body. John Cuthbert Davison, father, gave evidence of identification in the second case, and said his son, John Cuthbert Davison, died early on Wednesday morning.
Bombs on a roof. A night manager said about 11.15 p.m. he heard a loud report and saw a flash. This was followed by others in rapid succession. A bomb dropped on the roof. Witness was about 25 or 30 feet from it, and he was struck by splinters on the back and head, the latter being cut. As near as he could estimate three or four shells fell on the roof, two more being more powerful than the others. The Coroner and jury expressed sympathy with the relatives of the deceased. A verdict was returned to the effect that Ward and Davison died from injuries received through the explosion of bombs dropped from an enemy aircraft, whilst following their employment n/iv).
The North East War Memorials Project (NEWMP) describes a memorial to men who died in the Zeppelin raid. It states “a photo was taken of it in 1973 when it was in the Stirling foundry… once part of the Palmer Shipyard” w/v… (a). The list of names on the plaque is incorporated into the table below… note that Joseph was not on the list, which may suggest he was not employed by Palmers, but perhaps by the Admiralty? The photo of this plaque has been found by NEWMP (Jan 2011) in the John Rippington Collection… see here.
Some of the above information is placed in the following table, together with information about occupations in the 1911 Census. The cluster of occupations permits the suggestion that the bombs were dropped near the Palmers Engine Works Department which included the fitters shop and the erecting shop.
|1901 & 1911 r/vi)
|Lawrence Fraser Sanderson||
|School(1911)||9 Grant St Jarrow.|
|ship fitter(1911)||52 Salem St Jarrow.|
|**Joseph Beckwith Thornicroft||
|55 Northbourne Rd Jarrow.|
|John George Windle||
|screwing machine fitter(1911)||50 Stothard St Jarrow.|
|no record found||—|
|William Erskine Cook Young||
|school(1911)||52 Croft Terrace, Jarrow.|
|William Grieves Turner||
|apprentice engineer’s fitter(1911)||46 St Pauls Rd Jarrow.|
in death certificate r/xx).
|not in Census||Death Certificate address
25 Bede Burn Rd Jarrow r/xx).
|Robert Thomas Nixon||
|mechanic turner & fitter(1911)||158 Tamworth Rd Newcastle.|
|dock labourer(1911)||7 Hibernian Rd Jarrow, his father Robert at #9 next door.|
|colliery above ground labourer(1911),
drilling machine worker(1901)
|74 Portia St Ashington
|Thomas Henry Smith||
|apprentice engineer(1911)||161 Wansbeck Rd Jarrow.|
|turner in turbine works(1911),
|30 Duke St West Hartlepool.|
|48 Temperance Terrace
fitter and turner
|no occupation(1911)||1 Church St Jarrow.|
|John Cuthbert Davison||
|fitter and turner||coal miner stone man(1911)||Bunker Hill Fence Houses
Houghton le Spring.
|Key: ** The men NOT on the reported Palmer's shipyard memorial. The rest were on the memorial.
Suggestions: i) The occupations suggest that this group were generally employed in the fitters' shop, or even the erecting shop. ii) The men not on the reported Palmer's memorial may have been employed by the Admiralty?
Further information is given about these fatalities in the appendix… showing when and where they died, a link to a photo of their grave if available, the location of the grave, together with the details of their 2nd quarter 1915 death registration.
How can we tell exactly where the bombs were dropped which caused the fatalities, and the details of the events? Contemporary accounts held by any descendants of these victims would be invaluable! Hopefully a descendant might write to me? Eye witness reports could have been revealed after censorship regulations were eased, and might have even made it into the newspapers.
The captain of HMS Marshal Ney, (later Admiral) Hugh Tweedie was an eye witness to the events on the morning after the raid. He wrote in his memoirs:
I was appointed to command the Marshal Ney, one of the new monitors mounting 15-inch guns, at that time supposed to be destined for a possible Baltic campaign. The Marshal Ney and Marshal Soult were still on the stocks. I was to superintend the fitting out of both of them and to command the first one ready. Taking up my quarters in the North Eastern Hotel I soon became familiar with Palmers and Hebburn where the ships were respectively building. At last Marshal Ney was ready and should be launched the following day. That night we experienced the first Zeppelin raid of the War, at least my first, not that I had much experience of it for I slept through it. In the early hours of the morning Mr. Gowan, managing director of Palmers, called at the hotel to say there had been a raid, many people in the yard had been killed, and some damage done to Marshal Ney. I went at once to Jarrow and the street leading down to the yard presented a scene of desolation, not that great damage had been done to the houses but it seemed that every window from every house had been blown out into the street. In the yard itself some fifty men had been killed and injured by a bomb which had fallen into the main fitting shop where work had been going on in night shifts. Considerable damage had been done to a series of destroyers' engines which were being erected. No bomb had fallen on the ship but splinters from one that had fallen near had pierced the side and deck plating. The Zeppelin had come quite low down, no anti-aircraft guns existed nor was there any organization for putting out the lights; under the circumstances it was indeed lucky that far more damage had not been done; the launch of the ship was delayed one day only, a disappointment one may suppose to the enemy.
My wife launched the ship I was to command, which should have been a good combination, but she, I mean the ship, never behaved very nicely. We were now destined for the Belgian coast… etc. b/xiii).
Significant data… Admiral Tweedie described the damage from a “bomb which had fallen into the main fitting shop”… the probable place where Joseph LANE died. He also mentions “Considerable damage… to a series of destroyers' engines which were being erected”, which indicated that the erecting shop was also hit. He commented on the lack of damage… perhaps referring to the ships in the yard. Was this due to the glass sectioned roofs of the engine works shop? The glare from the roofs would make the shops a target, but placed the shipyard in shadow… see the various images of the shops.
Compare the Tweedie story with newspaper accounts of the inquests: “A night manager said about 11.15 p.m. he heard a loud report and saw a flash. This was followed by others in rapid succession. A bomb dropped on the roof. Witness was about 25 or 30 feet from it, and he was struck by splinters on the back and head, the latter being cut. As near as he could estimate three or four shells fell on the roof, two more being more powerful than the others.” n/iv)
Another newspaper report, phrased in similar terms, identifies this night manager: “James Thomas Petrie said he heard reports and saw several flashes follow. Small fires broke out and precautions were taken. A bomb dropped 30 feet from him and he was struck in the back and head. Other explosions followed in quick succession.” n/iii Petrie's evidence of small fires suggests incendiary bombs.
The witness Ralph Errington for the first time identified the breaking of glass as a problem, not just mentioning splinters, significantly saying that nothing hit the ground where he was… (bombs?): “Ralph Errington said he heard two reports, not heavy ones, at 11.40 on Tuesday night, and these were followed by other reports, some of which were heavier than others, and the time which elapsed was six or seven minutes. The sound of the reports and the breaking of glass caused much commotion. Some men were injured and others were killed outright. He did not see anything hit the ground at the place where he was.” n/xi
Considering all this evidence, in conjunction with official reports discussed later in this chapter which suggest that the walls remained intact, it is probable that high explosive (HE) bombs fell near the work shop, rather than Tweedie's interpretation of what he saw the day after, involving a “bomb (HE?) which had fallen into the main fitting shop”. This would mean that the blast (overpressure) destroyed the roof and the workers were killed and injured from flying splinters of broken glass from the large number of glass sections of the roof and parts of the roof framework, and also that only incendiary bombs penetrated the broken roof.
The search for detail continues. Images 31-58 placed in the photogallery describe the shipyard at various times. Wide views and labelled plans also describe the engine works department… see here. Jim Cuthbert & Ken Smith (2004) say that the victims died in the "fitting and coppersmiths workshops" b/vi). John Davidson (1946) has a photo of Palmers erecting shop with the caption “Bombed in 1st World War by Zeppelins” b/ix). The fitting & erecting shop locations are also supported by the victims’ occupations shown in the above table.
Where were the various shops in the engine works department? A set of diagrams comparing Palmer's engine works at different times is shown below. Can you match the letters on the c1960 diagram (below) with names of the original Palmer's shops in 1915? Jim Cuthbert is "confident that "G" in the labelled diagram below was the Engine Erecting Shop". He has photographed inside "G" in 2007 and found a heavy lift overhead crane which said: "Craven Brothers, Manchester 1902, 20 tons, main hoist 12 tons, auxiliary hoist 5 tons". Help is needed from readers of this section… if you have followed the links to maps, diagrams and photos given above, you will have seen the data collected. Can you match the letters on the c1960 diagram (below) with names of the original Palmer's shops in 1915? I would be grateful to receive this information. Can you can help? Email to: Philip Strong
What was Joseph doing at the time? Why was he on night duty and what were his responsibilities? Why wasn't he on the memorial to Palmers employees who were killed in the raid? The position and quality of his home indicates he might have had a well paid job, either at Palmers (as a staff member) or even with the Admiralty? The large labelled drawing shows the probable location of both the Admiralty office and the shipyard manager's office if the 1887 and 1915 locations remained the same. Both of these offices could have been affected by bombs falling near the fitting and erecting sheds.
The wider circumstances… including the German perspective.
A number of books have been written about the German use of Zeppelins in the war against Britain in WWI. It would appear from the focus of some authors that the raid on Jarrow was not considered very important in the context of attacks on London. Some gave the event just a few words, or even not a mention.b/iii), b/v), b/vii), b/xiv).
The best information was given by Captain Joseph Morris (1925) b/xi), who wrote shortly after the event. Morris was not the official historian, since the waiver was inserted: “The Air Ministry accept no responsibility for the publication of his book, nor for the facts or opinions stated herein.” However, the quality of this book is shown when he stated in the preface:
By the courtesy of the Air Ministry I was given access to official records and in particular to an excellent series of Air Raid Reports which were drawn up during the war by the War Office concurrently with the raids… consulted the official British and German war histories… acknowledge the help from the Historical Branch of the Air Ministry b/xi).
Morris' account of the Tyneside bombing says:
Next came the second turn of the Tyne. In the early afternoon of 15 June, in weather conditions particularly favourable for oversea work, the L.10 (Kapitänleutnant Hirsch) and L.11 (Oberleutnant Freiherr von Buttlar) started from Nordholz for England. When ninety nautical miles northwest of Terschelling one of the engines of L.11 broke its crankshaft (in the forward engine) and the ship turned for home. Hirsch, however, carried on with the Tyne as his objective. He approached the coast at Blyth, well north of his target, obviously to avoid the Tynemouth defences. Otherwise his overland route, although somewhat shorter and more direct, differed little from that followed by Mathy on his visit on 14th April. On making his landfall at half-past eleven he immediately turned south and steered straight for the Tyne. No bombs were wasted in the open country as they were on the former occasion b/xi).
Raleigh & Jones (1922-37) analysed the factors in the situation which had developed when Hirsch had reached Wallsend.
Owing to the rapidity with which the airship approached and to the fact that the telephone warning organization was not yet fully developed, many of the Tyneside industrial works were taken unawares and were showing a full blaze of light. The lights induced Hirsch to drop his bombs as be had no other clues to his position. All he knew was that there were good targets below him and it mattered little that he thought they might be in Blyth or Sunderland. The night was moonless, but clear; no searchlights were in action; the anti-aircraft fire was ineffective; there was no opposition in the air; and most of the great industrial targets were well illuminated b/xviii).
Morris' account is continued:
The first were thrown at Wallsend. Unwarned, many of the Tyneside industrial establishments had their lights at full blaze; syren blasts sounded by H.M.S. Patrol as a warning were not understood. Damage was done to houses and the Eastern marine engineering works. After bombing Wallsend and the Hebburn collieries Hirsch turned his attention to Palmer's works at Jarrow, which presented a perfect target. Seven high explosive and five incendiary bombs fell on the engine construction department, causing very severe damage and great loss of life—seventeen men were killed and, seventy-two were injured. Before leaving, the airship dropped bombs on Willington quay, East Howdon, Cookson's antimony works and Pochin's chemical works. Hirsch went out to sea via South Shields, leaving a scenic railway ablaze near the Haxton (actually Harton) colliery staithes. As this raid was conspicuous for accurate bomb practice on military objectives, Hirsch's report is worth quoting: “Shortly after I reached the English coast I noticed on the portside a great number of lights and the glare of blast furnaces. Approaching closer, the course of a river, could be distinguished, on the banks of which were a great number of industrial works. At this moment the L.10 was suddenly subjected to heavy fire from various ground batteries. We were glad to note that shrapnel and not incendiary shells were being fired. The shrapnel all burst below the airship. On account of the gunfire I decided to bomb the locality below the airship as the many factories and blast furnaces afforded good targets. In all 2,500 kg. of high explosive and incendiary bombs were dropped and the effect must have been devastating. By the light of the fires caused by incendiary bombs, the demolition of entire factories, and several explosions, accompanied by an immense glare at the blast furnaces as well as a number of big fires, could, clearly be observed. The last four bombs were dropped on a coastal battery which had fired on the airship. The battery did not fire again. The glare from the raided locality was still visible 30 nautical miles away.” b/xv) Two naval machines rose from Whitley Bay but failed to see anything of Hirsch. If the raid on London did not give rise to undue alarm, those on Hull and the Tyne demonstrated the defencelessness of the industrial establishments of England. It was represented by prominent citizens that Zeppelins apparently could come when they liked, stay as long as they liked and go when they felt inclined without let or hindrance from anyone on our side. Notwithstanding the fact that the primary object of the raids—the destruction of places of military importance—was a failure, there were important secondary effects. Warnings caused cessation of work and the tense period of standing by with the expectation of bombs dropping at any moment was sufficient to disorganise a works or cause panic. b/xi… pp 37-39)
Douglas Robinson (2004) provides additional information about the Jarrow bombing, derived from British and German primary sources:
(At 8:45pm GMT Hirsch) was in sight of England, but it was still full daylight and he steered north and south offshore, waiting for darkness. At 9:35pm GMT the lookout on the upper platform reported an enemy aircraft coming up from astern. Hirsch had been hovering at 1,300 feet, but he now dropped two fuel tanks and climbed to 5,900 feet. The lookout must have been deceived, for the only British aircraft up that night were two that ascended from Whitley Bay almost at the end of the raid. At 10pm GMT L10 was put back on a westerly course, and at 11:25 GMT she came inland. (At Tyneside) Hirsch stated: “The place involved in the bombing attack I would assume to be Sunderland or Blyth. I would not consider Shields likely, because from there the city of Newcastle would be visible.” Only after the war did the Germans learn that L10's bombs had fallen in the South Shields district. Hirsch's first bombs, on Wallsend, damaged machinery at the Marine Engineering Works to the value of £30,000. He then crossed the river to Palmer's shipyard at Jarrow, which was building the super-dread-nought Resolution and two monitors for the Royal Navy (see later comments). From a point of view of military damage this was one of the most successful raids of the war. But such ideal conditions would not recur. No searchlights were in action, and Hirsch actually was fired on only by the guardship in the Tyne, the ancient cruiser Brilliant. b/iv… pp97--98)
Raleigh & Jones analyse the situation when Hirsch departed:
(Since) no early warning of this raid appeared to have been received… the 6th Light Cruiser Squadron or any of the Harwich cruisers went to sea. The only ship's fire directed at the Zeppelin was from the Brilliant, guardship in the Tyne. Two naval aeroplanes went up from Whitley Bay, but Hirsch had left before they got to any height, and they saw nothing of him.
It was not to be expected that the defencelessness of the Industrial towns of the north and east of England, forcibly demonstrated by the Tyne raid, was to be allowed to continue without considerable public protest, and the attention of the Government was directed from many sources to what was described as an impossible state of affairs b/xviii).
Morris reproduces a map of the 1915 Zeppelin raids on the Tyneside b/xi). Morris' low resolution map shows where the bombs were dropped in the Tyneside region, but it does not give pin-pointed locations. The caption to the map says:
From an Official Report prepared by the War Office. Reproduced by permission of the Controller, H.M. Stationery Office. On this map are shown two similar raids on Tyneside by single German naval Zeppelins. On the first occasion on the night of the 14th April, 1915, Kapitanleutnant Mathy raided in the L.9 and dropped bombs pretty freely along his route. The only casualties occurred at Wallsend, where a woman and a child were injured. On the second occasion on the night of the 15th June, 1915. Kapitanleutnant Hirsch came over in the L.10. He carefully preserved his bombs until he reached the industrial establishments on the Tyne. His bomb dropping was remarkably accurate and directive. Extensive damage was done to many works, including Palmer's, at Jarrow, where seventeen men were killed and seventy-two injured. b/xi… map facing page 38.
A better map was provided by Raleigh & Jones b/xviii), with the route overlaid on a 1930 ½ inch : mile OS map. See here.
Robinson's account continues:
Hirsch's report (to Korvettenkapitän Peter Strasser, Commander of the Naval Airship Division) commented on the first attempt to use radio bearings over England, saying that the results seemed promising (even though Hirsch was not sure where he had dropped his bombs!). He also recommended that June and July were too short and too light to be suitable for raids. Strasser heeded his advice. b/iv… p 98.)
Details of the L10 during this raid were:
Mission details: Take off: Nordholz 1:30 pm (12:30pm GMT). Landing: Nordholz 9:27am (8:27am GMT). Time in air: 19h. 53m. Distance: 969 miles. Av speed: 48.7mph. Max Altitude: 8,850ft. Crew: 15. Bombs loaded: 5,840lbs. Weather: Moderate wind on NE coast. Fine, clear sky. Bombs dropped: 53 (3,536lb). Casualties: 18 killed, 72 injured. Monetary damage: £41,760. b/iv… p 98.)
Ordnance available. Bombs came in 110, 128, 220 and 660 pound sizes. The incendiary bombs, made of thermite wrapped in tarred rope, weighed only 25 pounds. See here. Bombs were carried in racks on either side of the keel approximately amidships, and were released from a switch board in the control car. The bomb sight was produced by Carl Zeiss and was capable of considerable precision, but training in its use was sketchy and bombing practice was infrequent. b/iv… p 377.)
Typical armament: To give an idea of the bombs carried by the L10 on a mission in that year...a load of bombs carried by L10's sister ship the L12 on Aug 9-10, 1915 was two 220lb and twenty 110lb explosive bombs, and 70 incendiaries. Total load of bombs; 4,790lb. b/iv… p 118.)
What did happen in the raid at Tyneside (in general terms)?
The sequence of events at Tyneside could be summarised as follows. Hirsch firstly bombed some Wallsend targets of no military value near a hospital and some schools. He then bombed the North Eastern Marine Engineering works at Willington Quay, Wallsend. His observers reported that on the left (port) there were blast furnaces, a winding river and many industrial plants. He relied on his observers since the newly trialled radio navigation was not effective. He perceived he was under fire from shore batteries, and probably immediately crossed the river, bombed the Hebburn colliery, then Palmers Engineering Works. A witness at Palmers said were 14 reports n/iv), which may have been the 7 explosive bombs and 5 incendiaries which Robinson said had been dropped on Palmers engineering construction department, killing 17 workmen (actually 16). Hirsch then continued on an arc across the river, to bomb the chemical plants at Howdon near Willington Quay. Hirsch went out to sea via South Shields, leaving a scenic railway ablaze near the Harton colliery staithes (coal loading piers). b/iv… p98), w/v… a), b/xi), r/xxiii). The maps and drawings are needed to give the complete picture. Please see the seven (large & wide) images here, and the War office images 45 & 46 in the photogallery here.
Reminder of important related links from this section.
(a) Wide views of Palmers Works and superimposed Zeppelin bombing locations on OS maps and a diagram… here.
(b) Views and maps #31 to #47 on the LANE photogallery relating to Joseph LANE’s employment at Palmers works and his death in the Zeppelin bombing… here.
(c) Transcription of: Malcolm Dillon. Some Account of the works of Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron company. W.E. Franklin, Newcastle-upon-Tyne; 1909 (4th Ed); 56-68 .... which gives a detailed account of what Palmers engineering department was like, just before the Zeppelin bombing and the death of my great-uncle… here.
The fine detail of the Zeppelin bombing.
Eyewitnesses and official records allow us to take this account to the next level, give some fine detail and dismiss some inaccuracies.
Which ships were there, and what happened to the dry dock?
Robinson mentions "(Hirsch) then crossed the river to Palmer's shipyard at Jarrow, which was building the super-dread-nought Resolution and two monitors for the Royal Navy." b/iv) However, Palmers successfully completed these ships as follows: Monitors...HMS Marshal Ney (launched 17 Jun 1915 at Jarrow shipyards, 2 days after the bombing), HMS Marshal Soult (launched 24 Aug 1915 at Hebburn shipyards), HMS General Wolfe (launched 9 Sept 1915 at Hebburn shipyards w/viii). Battleship… HMS Resolution had been launched at Palmers Jarrow shipyards on 14 Jan 1915 and was successfully commissioned on 30 Dec 1916 w/ix). The Roxburgh WWI diaries record that HMS Roxburgh had been damaged by a torpedo attack on 20 Jun and was placed in Palmer's dry dock on about 29 Jun 1915, showing that the dock was functional. The sailor's diaries say on 28 June: "On arrival at Hebburn we found the searchlights busy looking for a “Zep.” which had been reported. The people were stood at their doors apparently afraid to go to bed. Of course after the recent attack one can only expect these peaceful folk to be rather nervous. I hear that there are 15 French airmen stationed near this place in case of a Zeppelin attack.” The diary described the torpedo attack on 20 June when the 'Roxburgh' was hit in the bow, just forward of the sick bay (the diarist was a Sick Berth Steward)… and then commented on “a great feat to have successfully brought a torpedoed ship into harbour under her own steam… the first instance in this war when it has been successfully accomplished.”w/x)
This should be contrasted with one of the maps in the official record, which shows four high explosive bombs dropped on and around the dry dock. There is also a bit of variation on the internet describing where the various ships were launched.
National Archives Records… locations & nature of bombs, times, damage and casualties
Up to now, the search for information has largely been from secondary sources… in the process, trying to find writers who had directly sighted the original official sources or contacted original eyewitnesses. I have been most cautious of some references which have problems like "Chinese Whispers", where an author is quoted without attribution by an author who is then subsequently quoted by another author and so on. Captain Joseph Morris was my best source, when he acknowledged the help from the Historical Branch of the Air Ministry, and Morris also wrote close to the Zeppelin event in 1925.
I have now accessed some of the records (48 pages) of the same Air Historical Branch, held by the National Archives r/xxiii), which largely confirm the information above. Their reports, correspondence and maps present data which is sometimes conflicting and sometimes even wrong, but contains fascinating information… even down to a count of the number of panes of glass broken in South Shields. The overall impression of events on June 15 was of confusion, and demands for reports from people who didn't really know what happened.
The Chief Constable at Morpeth said: “it is obvious from the very differing accounts… that unless immediately below the ship… can only form an estimate of the exact position of the ship; a similar remark applies to that of height.” Estimates of height were between 4-6,000 ft. Lack of information at the time is shown when the Commander of the Tyne Garrison said "if the time available is very short, then reliance cannot be placed on warning by telephone". The telephone problem had been compounded, shown when complaints were made that the civilian Post office staff at Blyth and North Shields left the switch rooms to seek cover. Lack of communication prevented the lights being turned off in the raid, and even when the communication got through to HMS Patrol on the River Tyne and warning sirens were sounded near Palmers, the siren was not understood. At that time, even a train kept travelling along the line with its lights on!
Subsequent reports gave varying accounts of the location and nature of the bombs, and time frames involved. A map of the location of bombs in Palmers showed 4 high explosive bombs (HE) on the dry dock, and one HE directly on Palmers rolling mills. his is unlikely since the rolling mills damage was not mentioned in any report, and we also know that the dry dock was fully operational 14 days later for HMS Roxburgh. It was reported that the first bombs were dropped at Wallsend at 11:35pm, the bombs dropped in the mid-Tyne district from 11:40 to 11:50, and the last bomb at South Shields at 11:52pm. However, Palmers Works said that the Zeppelin stayed over them for 10 minutes! Then the Zeppelin had to cross the river and bomb the Willington Quay and travel to South Shields! A document from the General HQ of the Home Forces made some attempt to tie the documents together, and reveal the various inconsistencies. This said: “the exact times the bombs were dropped at each place are not reliable, as in many cases the times were not given at all, and in other cases the times were very much a variance with what must have been the true facts of the case.” However there was no definitive final report in the Archives. I have presented a tabular summary below, which is drawn from the most likely accounts, and readers must bear this problem in mind.
|300-600yds S of Hospital||3||-||-||-|
|New secondary schools||2||-||-|
|NE Marine Engine Works… outside.||2||-||timber stack set on fire.|
|NE Marine Engine Works… inside.||2||6||£30,000 (total cost of damage inside & outside)
… inside damage done to pattern shop, foundry & machine shops.
Area: SOUTH TYNE↓
|Blackett St||1||2||-||included with football field (above).|
“Drill Hall Western Rd 200yds N of”
|1||-||included with Palmers below. This notation must have meant 200 ft which would take the location of the explosion just north of the Drill Hall, with an unimpeded blast effect on the Engine Works and its entrance and the adjacent houses in Clayton St, which were across the Parade Ground.. See map here, which corresponds with the 1915 National Archives map.|
|Palmers Works||7||7||17 killed;
72 injured (seriously wounded 11)
|(A) £5,000 Palmers:
i) Shipyard— 14 dents & small holes in shell plating of Monitor (Marshal Ney), also windows broken.
ii) Engine Shop— Some principals of roof brought down, all glass roofs destroyed.
iii) Erecting Shop— Glass and principals to roof. Destroyer turbine casings destroyed.
(B) £780 (328 houses— glass & roofs).
One of the official maps showed the remainder of the HE bombs in the dry dock area (clearly wrong… see early discussion). However, they WERE shown on the northern side of the erecting shop and were not shown as making DIRECT HITS on the Engine Department Shops. These bombs would be responsible for the blast damage to the erecting shop.
Area: WILLINGTON QUAY↓
|Cookson's Antimony Works||-||2||-||£625. Shed, crane, weighing machines etc. Must have been the yard between Cookson's and Pochin's.|
|Pochin's Chemical Works||-||1||-||£625. Property, dwelling house windows etc.|
|Coach Open||1||-||PC Telford
|Stephenson St, Dock St, Church St, property, dwelling house windows etc.|
|Tyne Commissioner's Yard||-||1|
|Tyne View Terrace||-||2|
Area: SOUTH SHIELDS↓
|In river near Harton
|1||-||-||2 cabins on the NE end of the staithes.|
|Fairground next to
|1||-||-||All windows in Ferry St + glass damage to 46 houses in … Market Place, Thrift St, Church Row, Dean St, West St, Spring Lane, Station Rd, King St, Coronation St, East Holborn. “Fairground completely wrecked”— damage to scenic roundabouts, side shows, scenic railway, locomotive & orchestral organ.|
|Bents Ground 120yds
from New Bents Rd
|1||-||-||Crater 14' wide by 4' deep.|
|South Sands||-||1||-||Not exploded.|
From the above records it is possible to conclude that the damage to the workshops at Palmers Works was not due to direct hits from the high explosive bombs, but was due to the blast waves or overpressure, not neglecting the incendiary bombs which may have penetrated the fractured roofs. USA research on the effects of truck bombs placed outside buildings have shown the effect of flexion of metal frames and breaking of glass. This is consistent with the failure in Palmers of principal rafters in the engine shop and erecting shop and the destruction of the glass roofs, BUT not the external walls. The USA research pointed out the main cause of injuries was flying glass. This is confirmed by a witness in one of the shops who said: “The sound of the reports and the breaking of glass caused much commotion. Some men were injured and others were killed outright. He did not see anything hit the ground at the place where he was” n/xi).
The table above taken with previous data gives us the information to place locations on the large maps and plot the Zeppelin path, which shows the sequence of events.
Future research… eyewitnesses!
A picture of what happened at Palmers Works on the night of the Zeppelin bombing can only be completed by further eyewitnesses.
Admiral Tweedie's eyewitness report of events shortly after the bombing is presented on this page. Tweedie's story said: "In the yard itself some fifty men had been killed (16) and injured (34) by a bomb which had fallen into the main fitting shop"… the number of uninjured is not known. There must be many stories passed down within families of these people about events during the bombing, not just the day after.
Why haven't the stories survived? Censorship stopped publication, then far worse disasters such as the Battle of the Somme on the following year, made the Zeppelin raid inconsequential. Then WWII and its large scale bombing made the Zeppelins even more irrelevant! Consider the “passage of time”… oral histories within families become more diluted as the story is passed on from generation to generation, unless it is committed to a diary.
I have worked up a family history file from Censuses and vital records on each of the people named in the Zeppelin event, both victims and witnesses… all in the hope of contacting living relatives. This has enabled searches of press records of obituaries, AncestryCom family trees etc. Each of these files has been uploaded to AncestryCom containing my contact details. We can only hope that Zeppelin event descendants might research their own family history, enabling subsequent contact through Google or AncestryCom searches etc.
Living relatives of the Thornicroft family would be important. There were two marine engineers killed on that night, my great-uncle Joseph LANE (1848-1915) and Joseph Beckwith THORNICROFT (1883-1915). Both were not mentioned on the official Palmers Works memorial, which suggests that they might have had another employer than Palmers. Perhaps the Thornicrofts might know who employed their ancestor? Joseph Thornicroft had a son Tom Parker Thornicroft in 1912, who married Freda D. Wise in 1936 at Jarrow. Tom died in 1999, and Freda Thornicroft & her daughter Aileen Thewles both died about 2008. For the interest of Jarrow readers, Tom was a well-known teacher, eventually retiring as head of Monkton County Junior School. Tom Thornicroft was well known for more than 40 years work with schools' football in Shields and was, at one time, chairman of South Shields Schools FA. He was also active in local swimming circles, and was co-founder of South Shields Sea Angling Club. There must be living Thornicroft descendants, but it is difficult to research this from Australia.
Ralph Elliott ERRINGTON (1872-1950), witness at the Zeppelin inquest, looked promising. At least two of his children remained in Jarrow: James Henry Errington (1898-1981), William Young Errington (1907-1985). However, how do you find details of living descendants? I have tried with my article in the local press, but so far there are no results. William Young Errington was a butcher, and he lived in Sussex St Jarrow, just across the road from the LANE family at 25 Bede Burn Rd Jarrow. The LANEs may have bought their meat from him! Thanks to Roger Errington for help with this family fb/xii).
The other witness at the Zeppelin inquest was the night manager, James Thomas PETRIE. The search for his family has been inconclusive. There was a James Thomas PETRIE born in Jarrow on 1879, to James Alexander (marine engineer) and Mary Jane PETRIE. This family variously lived at 38 South St, Jarrow (1881), 27 Abbay St, Jarrow (1891) and 58 Clockwell St, Southwick (1911). James Thomas could not be traced in 1911, though there was a possible record for James Thomas (engineer) in 1921. This James lived at 206 Albert Rd Jarrow when he applied for a patent regarding an invention which held up rivets with an electromagnetic device.
Bernetta Nixon was the wife of Robert Thomas NIXON (1882-1915), a fitter and turner killed during the Zeppelin raid. Thanks to Sandie Nixon, a descendant of Bernetta Nixon, part of the story (just one fact) emerged. Bernetta told her family that “the doors to the factory were locked during the shifts. This meant that the men in the factory could not get out when the bombing occurred!!” fb/xi) The “doors to the factory” must have meant the entrance to the Engine Works at the western end of Ellison Place, indicated by the label “time office” on this map, showing the small building on the northern side of this end of the road, probably behind a high brick wall. This area was hit by the first high explosive bomb, which could have blocked the entrance. Major General RAK Montgomery refers to a report from Palmers Shipbuilding & Iron Co. that "bombs were dropped in their district for fully 10 minutes". Even though Montomery did not feel this time was not fully accurate, if we take this report r/xxiii) into account, together with a blocked exit fb/xi), we have an idea of the last moments of some of the men. Note: There was also a “time office” near the front gate… presumably for the general shipyard employees. See the photo of the front entrance with its heavy doors on rollers and uniformed security guards here.
Sheila YOUNG wrote to me about the death of her uncle, William Erskine Cook (Willie) YOUNG (1899-1915): “My father told me that his brother Willie really shouldn't have been there. He wasn't employed at Palmers, he was taking lunch to my grandfather (David YOUNG) who was working there & who survived the air raid.” fb/xiii) David YOUNG was recorded in the censuses as mechanical engineer (1901), engineer fitter (1911). Willie probably died from the first bomb explosion, waiting outside the Engine Works entrance to its time office.
Admiral Tweedie gave an account of some of the effects of this first bomb explosion. He received news of the raid at his lodgings at the North Eastern Hotel (near the railway station). He said: “I went at once to Jarrow and the street leading down to the yard presented a scene of desolation, not that great damage had been done to the houses but it seemed that every window from every house had been blown out into the street.” b/xiii) The most direct route from the station to Palmers Works was Clayton St, which at its end would have taken him past the houses which (on their other side) had been facing the explosion in the Parade Ground and the Drill Hall area.
On 2 Dec 2010 “hartmann” made a post on the JarrowLife Forum saying: “it is doubtful that Lawrence Frazer Sanderson (1899-1915) worked at Palmers. I was told (by two contemporary sources) that he had gone with his mate William Grieves Turner (1895-1915) to deliver Turner's Dad's bait (lunch box). They were killed together in the screwing shop” w/xi) . It is more likely that they were also killed by the first bomb outside the Engine Works time office, on the assumption that security during war time would not have allowed them to enter when they were not working there or had "clocked on". However, truth is often stranger than fiction!
“hartmann” continued in this post: “According to my notes gathered from interviews with people who were working at Palmers that night. Joseph LANE (1848-1915) and Joseph Beckwith THORNICROFT (1883-1915) were killed together. Joseph had refused to work nights but for some unknown reason had done so on that fateful night… Thomas Henry SMITH (1892-1915) was a sea going merchant marine engineer awaiting his ship to be re-fitted, but worked in the yard in the meantime.” w/xi) Unfortunately, no further information was received from “hartmann” about the victims’ stories or his sources.
Contact has been made with a descendant of Thomas Henry SMITH (1892-1915) who said: "I'm not sure how much I can help you. I know nothing about the incident. Thomas Henry Smith is my G-uncle." I can only hope that she can tell our story to someone in her family and jog their memory. I can assure any family member who hasn't heard this story… they are not alone. I had researched the family of my g-uncle Joseph LANE (1848-1915)… however, I knew nothing about Zeppelin bombing of my g-uncle until my friend Vin Mullen of Jarrow made the link in Nov 2010! After that, there was much effort which developed this present account.
Can anyone help with contacting families who might have stories about the Zeppelin raid? I published an article in the Shields Gazette (click on the image to see the enlargement). Janis Blower kindly edited this article and added graphics n/xv). I asked for eyewitness stories … Time is running out for oral history… if you can help, my e-mail link is at the bottom of this page.
Summary of results of searches so far, showing name of victim who died in the Zeppelin raid / witness to the raid and their year and place of birth:
Contacted a close relative of:
Robert Thomas NIXON b.1882- Ovingham, Northumberland; Thomas Henry SMITH b.1892- Hebburn, Co. Durham; William Erskine Cook YOUNG b.1899- Spain.
Contacted a remote relative only of:
**Ralph Elliott ERRINGTON b.1872- Tyne Dock, Co. Durham, d. 1950- Northern Durham, Co. Durham; Frederick PINNOCK b.1883- Jarrow, Co. Durham; Ralph SNAITH b.1867- Middleton, West Hartlepool, Co. Durham.
Families could not be contacted of:
Albert BRAMLEY b.1861- Knaresborough, Yorkshire; Matthew CARTER b.1861- Fatfield, Co. Durham; John Cuthbert Davison b.1884- Newbottle, Durham; Karl KARLNING b.1893- ?; **James Thomas PETRIE b.1880- Jarrow, Co. Durham; Lawrence Fraser SANDERSON b.1899- Jarrow, Co. Durham; William STAMFORD b.1875- Berwick, Northumberland; Joseph Beckwith THORNICROFT b.1883- Jarrow, Co. Durham; William Grieves TURNER b. 1895- Jarrow, Co. Durham; George WARD b.1897- Jarrow, Co. Durham; John George WINDLE b.1888- Upperby, Co. Cumberland; Unknown 50+ men injured at Palmers Works.
Key: **witnesses at the inquest. Others were victims.
Eyewitnesses found… the Court Case & the SNAITH Family!
Good history is best written using contemporary first-hand reports and the Zeppelin story has remained like a jigsaw with many missing pieces. I have been searching for Ralph Snaith descendants without success, in the hope that first-hand family stories have been passed down through the generations. Ralph's wife was Mary Pounder Snaith, and they had 3 children: John d. 1956, Hartlepool; Ethel d. 1970, Scarborough (married William Brougham); Norman details unknown.
Ralph Snaith had variously worked as a turner in the turbine works, an engineer's turner and an engine fitter. r/iv) - vi) He had worked for Palmers for 3 weeks up to the time of his death, at the rate of £3. 1s. 6d. a week. r/xxv)
At first sight it is strange that Ralph was not working in the shipbuilding town of Hartlepool. However, 6 months before Ralph died at Jarrow, Hartlepool received a very heavy German naval bombardment on 16 Dec 1914. Shipbuilding operations in Hartlepool would have been put into some confusion after the bombardment and Ralph might have been unemployed or at least under-employed. One week after the bombardment, Palmers Shipbuilding was advertising for workers under the patriotic heading of OHMS, with the explanation "owing to urgent work for his Majesty's Navy this class of workmen are wanted immediately." n/xvii) Perhaps Ralph responded to these advertisements?
Mary Pounder SNAITH made a Workmen's Compensation claim against Palmers which was referred to the County Court of Durham for arbitration. Her case arose from the death of her husband, Ralph SNAITH in the Zeppelin raid of 15 Jun 1915. She won her case on 13 Apr 1916 and Palmers appealed to the Supreme Court. Mary won again on 15 Jul 1916, Palmers then appealed to the House of Lords, which rejected their appeal on 30 Jan 1916. A great victory for the little people against the British establishment. The House of Lords case could not be obtained from the Parliamentary Archives for 100 years… it was made available one year earlier in 2014, following my application. Details of Mary's cases were previously hidden from the public, since they were all held "in camera".
The witnesses' evidence is now quoted in full, thanks to the most generous permission of the Parliamentary Archives. Their senior archivist examined this site and gave the unusual offer to "quote as much as you want"… which goes beyond the extent of "fair academic use". Many thanks!
EVIDENCE ON BEHALF OF THE APPELLANT (Mary SNAITH).
P.C. MILLER, examined.-On the 15th June 1915 I was on duty at Clegwell about a mile from Respondents’ works. I was half-a-mile from the slag heap. About 11.35 p.m. my attention was drawn to an airship. It was between Hebburn and Jarrow straight north from where I was. It was coming straight towards me. It was coming in a straight line for the slag heap. The slag heap makes a bright light. Can be seen a long way-more than a mile- the slag heap belongs to Palmers. They were tipping slag that night. I watched the airship. I could see it quite plainly. It was a fairly light night. I saw it dropping bombs near the Tyne somewhere. After three or four shots from the anti-aircraft guns it turned to the left and went towards Jarrow. Towards Palmers. All street lights at Jarrow are put out every night. All the house lights are darkened. At the works down the Tyne some are shaded some are not. When they get warning of Zeppelins all the lights are put out. After the Zeppelin went towards Palmers I heard bombs dropping and the guns firing.
Cross-examined.- The airship never came over me. It was a great height up. I know Palmers yard. The slag heap is 3/4 mile from the engine shop where Snaith was working. I don’t know whether bombs were dropped that night away from the Tyne. I believe one was dropped at Howden on the opposite side of the river and killed a police constable. I heard that a bomb was dropped at South Shields-5 miles away. I heard a good many bombs were dropped and a good deal of damage done to private· property. I believe there was only one Zeppelin.
Re-examined.- I know nothing about the lights at South Shields.
DAVID YOUNG examined.- I am an engineer. I know Palmers works. I work there. My son was killed in the raid. The engine shops are about 200 yards from the river. They are all under one covering. I should say the building is five or six hundred feet long and roughly three hundred feet wide. The building is constructed on iron columns. The roof is glass. The side open to the river is about fifty feet high and about 2 thirds of it is glass. The other side facing the street is a stone wall with windows here and there about 20 feet by 4 feet. The ends of the building are corrugated iron. Sometime after a previous raid at Hebburn the glass roof was darkened or coloured, but before the raid in June last the colouring was off. It has now been painted a greenish colour. The engine shops are lighted by Empire lights. They are incandescent lamps. It is a kind of petroleum light. It made a very strong bright white light. Very powerful indeed. Outside the engine shops are the shipbuilding yards extending to the river. The yard is lighted by electric arc lamps, there are at least 30. They are very powerful lamps. They were not shaded in any way. Two Monitors were being built. They were working night and day. The nearest part of the engine shops to bow of Monitor at least 100 yards. There were electric arc lamps on both sides of the Monitor. I was foreman night shift engineer in the power station. I got no warning or instructions that night as to cutting off the light. It is customary if they apprehend aircraft are about to prepare to put out lights and take cover as far as possible.
I had no warning that night. About 11.40 I was standing at the door of the power house. It is in the engine shops. I was at the engine room door. I heard an explosion. Before that saw a flash in the sky. I then put the power station in to darkness by switching out the roof light and I took steps to get the yard put in darkness immediately. I heard many explosions. Glass was falling all round about me. The lights in the engine shop were petroleum and of course the power station had no control over them. They remained burning for some little time after that. I know of 9 bombs falling in the engine shops and in the ship yards. There may have been more. Two that I know of fell in the engine shops and 9 altogether in the works.
Cross-examined.-I get warnings from a special messenger sent from the ship yard gate. I understand they get information at the ship yard gate from the Military authority. I do not know if warning was given that night. Two bombs had dropped in the yard before I switched off the light.
THOMAS CROOKS, examined. I was working on a Monitor at Palmers on the night in question. The nearest to the engine shops. I was on a machine called a barbette. lt goes round. The first thing that drew my attention was a bomb falling on the N.E. Marine Works higher up the river. I started to clear out. I could see the airship coming across the River. The Marine works are on the north side. It looked to me as if it was over Palmers-Hebburn works. Then I saw it drop a bomb about Hebburn and then it came on towards Palmers works. I got shelter under the ship but I could see out. The bombs were dropping in the yard and on the engine shops before I got down the gangways. There were 9 or 10 bombs dropped, certainly 2 or 3 in the shops and the others in the yards. One dropped 20 or 30 feet off the side of the ship. The ship yard was well lighted that night. There was a string of arc lamps round the ship. I should think a dozen. They were put out after the air-ship got away. The lights in the engine shops were burning. I went up to see the damage and the lights were then still burning. The roof of the engine shops was damaged all the panes of glass were out. It was well lighted.
Cross-examined.- Only one bomb dropped near the Monitor.
GEORGE BOYD examined. - I am a machine worker. I was working in the fitting shop and part of the engine shop. I was injured. The shops are very brilliantly lighted. None of the roof was coloured or painted. It was quite clear. Not painted as it is now. I first heard a noise like a gun-then another the next laid me out. I was injured. The lights were burning brightly when I was injured. I have not heard of any bombs dropping that night except on the works.
SAMUEL ARMSTRONG examined. I am a machine worker. I was injured. I was working in the engine shops. I heard a gun then a bomb dropped and I remember nothing more.
FRANK HOLMES examined.- I am a turner. I was working in the engine shops. I heard three or four bombs then I was injured and heard no more.
EVIDENCE ON BEHALF OF THE RESPONDENT (Palmers Co.).
MATTHEW JOHNSON. examined.-I am a joiner living at South Shields. I remember the raid on the 15th June last. After the raid I repaired several buildings in South Shields- all dwellinghouses. As far as I could see they had been damaged by the air ship. I repaired four. There were other houses damaged.
I don't know if the Market Place is lighted up. I was in bed at the time. I was sent for next morning.
Re-examined.-All the houses I repaired were damaged by one bomb. I believe the one which fell in the market place.
JAMES THOMAS PETRIE, examined.- I am the engine works night manager at Palmers. We are supposed to get a warning from the Military Authority. It comes to the gatehouse by telephone. At 8p.m. that night we did receive a warning "prepare" that means prepare for air raid. This was quite a common occurrence. Had been warned many times and nothing further happened. We should have had a warning “extinguish" if the danger was imminent.
Cross-examined.-The engine shops were lighted by petroleum. They were very powerful lights. They are now electric. They can be turned out more quickly. The lights are certainly a very great danger. I should say the light increased the danger to the works and to the men. I gave orders to put out the lights that night when I heard the bombs. Unfortunately the lamp man was injured. Seventeen men were killed and fifty or sixty injured. As far as I know there was no other casualty in Jarrow.
The Applicant is the widow of Ralph Snaith who was killed on the 15th June 1915 by a bomb from an enemy airship when he was working for the Respondents at their works at Jarrow on the Tyne. It is admitted that if the Applicant is entitled to compensation the sum to be awarded is £300. The facts are shortly stated as follows:
Snaith was working in the engine shops which consist of a large building about 600 feet long 300 feet wide and 50 feet high situated about 200 yards from the river. The building is constructed on iron columns, the roof is glass and about two-thirds of the side open to the river is also glass; the other side facing the street is a stone wall with several windows about 20 feet by 4 feet the ends of the buildings are corrugated iron. At the time of the accident the glass in the building was not covered or shaded in any way nor were the light s inside obscured. The building was lighted with what I understand are known as Empire lights, a kind of petroleum light with incandescent burners which give a very powerful white light. Immediately outside the engine shops are the ship yards extending to the river where at the time of the accident ships were being built and men were working day and night. The ship yards are lighted by about 30 powerful electric arc lamps which were not at the time shaded or obscured in any way. About 12 of these lamps were round a ship which was then in the course of construction about 100 yards from the engine shops. At a distance of about three-quarters of a mile there is a slag heap belonging to the Respondents giving out a bright light which can be seen a long way off. At 11.35 p.m. on the 15th June 1915 an airship was seen between Hebburn and Jarrow. After being fired at it turned in the direction of the Respondents' yards at Jarrow and dropped nine or ten bombs there; two of these bombs fell on the engine shops and the others in the ship yards. The Applicant's husband and several other men were killed and many injured. That Snaith met with an accident resulting in his death in behalf of the Respondents that the accident did not arise out of the employment. A statement of the law as to the meaning of the words “arising out of the employment" is to be found in the case of Craske v. Wigan (1909) 2 K .B., 635; 2 B.W.C.C., 35. The Master of the Rolls there said: " It is not enough for the Applicant to say " the accident would not have happened if I had not been engaged in this employment or if I had not been in that particular place. The Applicant must go further and must say the accident arose because of something I was doing in the course of my employment or because I was exposed by the nature of m y employment to some peculiar danger." This statement was referred to and approved by the House of Lords in Plumb v. Cobden Flour Mills Co. (1914) F A.C. 62 ; 7 B.W.C.C. 1. In the case of Andrews v. Failsworth Industrial Society Limited (1904) 2 K.B. :32 where a man was killed by lightning when working on a scaffold it was held that if the greater danger to which a workman is exposed is due to the place and circumstances in which he is employed the injury may be considered as caused by an accident arising out of the employment. It is not necessary that the accident should arise directly out of the work the man was actually doing at the time. This case was referred to by the Master of the Rolls in Craske v. Wigan. No doubt everyone incurs some risk of being injured when an enemy airship comes into the district but if a man is exposed to more than the ordinary risk by reason of the place where or circumstances under which he has to work and he is injured by an accident in consequence of the greater danger to which he was exposed I think the accident may be rightly said to have arisen out of the employment. Snaith was working at a large and well known shipyard on the Tyne and it was urged on behalf of the Applicant that this in itself would expose the man to greater danger from enemy airships than people who were not so employed. It may be so, but I prefer to base my Judgment upon the danger to which the man was exposed by the condition of the premises where he was working. It was admitted by a witness who gave evidence on behalf of the Respondents and I think it is obvious that the lights are a very great danger and increase the danger to the works and to the men. It seems to me to be a reasonable inference from the evidence that the airship was attracted by the brilliant light from the powerful lamps in the engine shops and the shipyards and that it made a deliberate attack upon the Respondents' premises seeing that least nine bombs were dropped there two or three on the engine shops and the others in the ship yards. In my opinion Snaith was exposed to peculiar and more than ordinary danger from enemy airships by reason of his having to work in the brilliantly lighted engine shops which had a glass roof and partly a glass front and in close proximity to the shipyard lighted by powerful electric lights which were neither shaded nor obscured in any way and I think he met with the accident resulting in his death in consequence of the peculiar and greater danger to which he was exposed. I therefore think the accident arose out of and in the course of the employment.
There will be an Award for £300 with costs Scale B.
April 13th, 1916
H. D. BONSEY,
Judge. r/xxiv), r/xxv)
Mary Pounder SNAITH was a heroine when women were asserting themselves in the suffragette movement. Her persistence must have had a flow-on beneficial effect for the families of the killed and injured in the Zeppelin raid. Her family was probably not wealthy, since her application for workmens' compensation gave Ralph's income as only £3. 1s. 6d. per week with a daughter aged 22 and a son aged 12, all dependant on Ralph's wage. Her case must have caused the Court of Appeal some sympathy:
In the Court of Appeal yesterday a stay of execution (of Mary's award) was granted, pending an appeal in the House of Lords, in the case of Mary Pounder Snaith v. Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron Co., Ltd.
It was a case under the Workman's Compensation Act and the applicant had been awarded £300. The stay was granted conditionally upon an allowance of £1 week being made to the applicant in the meantime that the company, if successful should not claim recovery of this payment. n/xvi)
Mary's case passed into the body of common law precedents, leading to the "The positional-risk doctrine in workmen's compensation". b/xix)
Mary's success needs to be put into perspective against the power and influence of her adversaries. It didn't seem that there would be much support for the shipyard workers in Hartlepool or Jarrow from their Liberal MP's or their supporters in 1915-1916! … ‡
These MPs were both Liberals from the shipping industry, and probably, through their connections made a powerful bloc of Liberal shipbuilders and ship owners. It is suggested that this group provided the drive for Palmers NOT to settle the workmen's compensation claim and thus proceed all the way to the House of Lords! … ‡
FOOT NOTES: … ‡ Godfrey Mark Palmer was the Liberal MP for Jarrow 1910 - 1922, succeeding his father, Sir Charles Mark Palmer Bt, the founder of the Palmer Shipbuilding Co of Jarrow, who was the MP for Jarrow from 1885 until his death in 1907.
Sir Walter Runciman was the Liberal MP for The Hartlepools constituency 1914-1918. He was the owner of a shipping line, originally known as the South Shields Shipping Co. then known as the Moor Line Ltd of Newcastle. He had followed Christopher Furness, 1st Baron Furness, who was the MP for The Hartlepools from 1895 to 1910, and then died in 1912. Lord Furness was the owner of Furness, Withy & Co., major shipbuilders of Hartlepool. Sir Walter immediately succeeded Lord Furness' nephew Stephen Furness, who was the MP for The Hartlepools from 1910 to 1914.
Significantly, in 1910, the late Sir Charles Palmer's interest in his business was acquired by Christopher Furness (see above). Christopher's chairmanship of Palmers then passed to his nephew Stephen Furness (see above) when Christopher died in 1912. Charles' baronetcy passed to his son Marmaduke in 1912. Marmaduke took over the chairmanship of Furness, Withy & Co. (including Palmers?) when Stephen died in 1914. This left Marmaduke in control in 1915, and the workmen's compensation case began in 1916. The Furness family moved in royal circles, and Marmaduke's wife became a mistress of the Prince of Wales in 1930, before Wallis Simpson became the Prince's mistress in 1934, leading finally to Edward VIII's abdication in 1936. … w/xii)
A table of details of the victims and their graves.
See the appendix here.
Newspapers and Periodicals.
n/iii) Air raid on North-East Coast. Jarrow Express and Tyneside Advertiser; Jun 18,1915.
n/iv) Air raid on North-East Coast. Illustrated Chronicle; Jun 17-18,1915.
n/v) Death notice. Newcastle Evening Chronicle; Jun 18,1915.
n/vi) Unveiling of memorial. North Mail; Aug 16,1920.
n/vii) Unveiling of memorial. Newcastle Weekly Chronicle; Aug 21, 1920.
n/viii) Vin Mullen. Rediscovering tragedy of shipyard bombing. This article was subsequently published in Janis Blower's "Cookson Country" column, Shields Gazette; Jan 18, 2010. (See here.) Reproduced on this website in full, with the kind permission of Vin Mullen.
n/ix) Jarrow Memorial Tablet. Northern Echo; 16 Aug 16, 1920.
n/x) The Zeppelin Raid: another official statement. South Shields Gazette; 17 June 1915.
n/xi) The Zeppelin Raid. Inquests on the victims. South Shields Gazette; 18 June 1915.
n/xv) The night a Zeppelin brought death to Jarrow. Shields Gazette; 16 Mar 2011. See newspaper archives, or original copy.
n/xvi) Jarrow Appeal Case. The Newcastle Daily Journal; 29 Jul 1916: 4.
n/xvii) OHMS. Palmers shipbuilding & Iron Co., Wanted (advertisement). Sunderland Echo; 23 Dec 1914.
Archives, Registrations and Lists:
r/ii) Marriage of Jane STRONG & Joseph LANE. Year & quarter: Dec 1874. District: South Shields. County: Durham. Volume: 10A. Page: 1134. Number: 3.
r/iii…a) UK Census, 1871.
r/iii) UK Census, 1881.
r/iv) UK Census, 1891.
r/v) UK Census, 1901.
r/vi) UK Census, 1911.
r/xx) Death of Joseph LANE. Year & quarter: Jun 1915. District: South Shields. Sub-district: Jarrow. County: Durham. Volume: 10A. Page: 1162.
r/xxiii) The National Archives, Kew, UK. Air raids on England, covering dates 1915 June 15/16. From the Air Historical Branch & Home Forces records. Reference: AIR 1/570/16/15/143.
r/xxiv) Parliamentary Archives, London, UK. Manuscript Opinions and Judgments of the House of Lords, 1917.
Reference: HL/PO/JU/18/165. Note: This contains the Opinions on Palmers v Snaith
r/xxv) Parliamentary Archives, London, UK. Appeal Cases, series 3 - 1917, P-W.
Reference: HL/PO/JU/4/3/663. Note: this contains a file of 36 pages about Palmers Shipbuilding v Mary Pounder Snaith which consists of the cases for the Appellant and Respondent, and an Appendix with notes from the previous courts through which this case went.
Family Bibles, Wills & papers, Correspondence, Grave Stones:
fb/viii) Pers.comm: Vin Mullen of Co. Durham, UK. 2009-2010.
fb/xi) Pers. comm: Sandie Nixon, Canada. 2011.
fb/xiii) Pers. comm: Sheila Young, 2011.
fb/xiv) Pers. comm: Pete Wood, 2014.
Books and Journals:
b/i) Malcolm Dillon. Some Account of the works of Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron company. W.E. Franklin, Newcastle-upon-Tyne; 1900; 9, 47. Online here, also here. (… 88 pages).
b/ii) Ron French & Ken Smith. Lost Shipyards of the Tyne. Newcastle Libraries & Information Service; 2004; 62.
b/iii) Len Deighton & Arnold Schwartzman. Airshipwreck. Jonathan Cape, London; 1978; 31.
b/iv) Douglas H. Robinson. The Zeppelin in Combat - A History of the German Naval Airship Division- 1912-1918. Schiffer Publishing Ltd, Atglen, PA; 2004; pp 95,110 (specifications of L10), 97-98 (details of Jarrow raid), 377 (Zeppelin bombs & bomb sight), 96 (press censorship).
b/v) Andrew P. Hyde. The first Blitz: The German air campaign against Britain 1917-1918. Leo Cooper, England; 2002; 27.
b/vi) Jim Cuthbert & Ken Smith. Palmers of Jarrow: 1851-1933 . Newcastle Libraries & Information Service; 2004; 36.
b/vii) Ian Castle & Christa Hook. London 1914-17: The Zeppelin Menace. Osprey Publishing; 2008; 25, 31.
b/viii) Vincent Rea. Palmers Yard and the Town of Jarrow. Bede Gallery, Jarrow; 1975.
b/ix) John F. Davidson. From Collier to Battleships: Palmers of Jarrow 1852 to 1933. Durham Co. Press Ltd; 1946; 29.
b/x) J. F. Clarke. Century of service to engineering and shipbuilding: a centenary history of the North East Coast Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders, 1884-1984. North East Coast Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders, Newcastle; 1984; 42.
b/xi) (Captain) Joseph Morris. German Air Raids on Britain 1914 to 1918. Sampson Low, Marston & Co Ltd; 1925; 37-39, 103.
b/xii) Malcolm Dillon. Some account of the works of Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron company.
W.E. Franklin, Newcastle-upon-Tyne; 1909 (4th Ed); 56-65. (… 88 pages) See a transcription of pages 55-68 here.
b/xiii) Adm. Sir Hugh Justin Tweedie. The story of a naval life. Rich & Cowan, London; 1939; 140-141.
b/xiv) Kenneth Poolman. Zeppelins over England. Evans Brothers, London; 1960.
b/xv) Korvettenkapitän Otto Groos. Der Krieg Zur See, 1914-1918, —Der Krieg in der Nordsee. Mittler, Berlin; 4: 186-187.
b/xvi) Freiherr Treusch von Buttlar-Brandenfels. Zeppelins Over England. George G. Harrap, London; 1931.
b/xvii) Ernst August Lehmann, Howard Mingos. The Zeppelins: the development of the airship, with the story of the Zeppelin air raids in the world war. J.H. Sears & Company; 1927.
b/xviii) (Sir) Walter A. Raleigh, Henry A. Jones. The War in the Air: Being the story of the part played in the Great War by the Royal Air Force. Clarendon Press, Oxford; 1922-1937; 3: 104-105.
b/xix) Arthur Larson. The positional-risk doctrine in workmen's compensation. Duke Law Journal, Durham NC, USA; Sep 1973; 4: 761, 778-779.
w/v) North East War Memorials Project (NEWMP).
(a) Memorial to the Zeppelin raid at Palmers shipyard. Here.
(b) Plaque at St. John's Wesleyan Church, Jarrow. Here.
w/vi) A chronology of Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron Co. Grace's Guide: The best of British engineering, 1750-1960s. Here.
w/vii) List of Zeppelins: a complete list of Zeppelins constructed by the original German Zeppelin companies from 1900 until 1938. Here.
w/viii) Ships built by Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron Company (partial list). Wikipedia. Here.
w/ix) HMS Resolution (09). Wikipedia. Here.
w/x) Roxburgh Diaries. Here.
w/xi) JarrowLife.co.uk - Community Forum for Jarrow, Fellgate & Hedworth. Here.
w/xii) Wikipedia biographies.
I am grateful to my new relatives Gladys LANE, Tony APPLETON and Pat ROONEY who provided valuable information, photos and documents. Particularly to Tony who carried out local field work by using my information to locate and photograph houses and graves. I am grateful to readers of this page who have contacted me with useful information… including Vin MULLEN (a "Geordie lad in Jarrow") who told me about what had happened to some of the LANE addresses and provided great photos of Jarrow. Vin has been a great correspondent and has even photographed the LANE home after heavy snow falls! Vin's inside knowledge of the shipyard industry with his encyclopaedic memory of the history of Jarrow has been essential to much of this task. My friend Margaret HALL of Wallsend, Northumberland has most generously spent much time in the archives of Newcastle upon Tyne on my behalf. The North East War Memorials Project (NEWMP) chairman Janet BROWN from Morpeth, kindly forwarded images of the newspaper articles about the unveiling of the memorial plaque which included Joseph LANE. NEWMP foundation member James Pasby has spent much valuable time in the Tyne & Wear Archives on my behalf. Bill HARTMANN posted an obit of Joseph LANE from the Newcastle Evening Chronicle 18 Jun 1915, with partial images of articles from the Illustrated Chronicle referring to the air raid 17-18 Jun 1915… all in the JarrowLife Forum. He also referred me to his web site where he had placed an extract from a War Office report of the raid and an associated map. The local libraries were most cooperative: South Shields sent the air raid article from the Jarrow Express and Tyneside Advertiser. 18 Jun, 1915. Similarly, the Newcastle Library sent images of the complete air raid articles from the Newcastle Evening Chronicle 17-18 Jun 1915. Sylvia BLACK, Senior Church Steward of the Park Methodist church kindly looked up details of their ministers. Thanks also to the JarrowLife and Hebburn Forums for their welcome and help extended to a Colonial visitor. Ian Castle kindly enabled a breathrough in obtaining the relevant National Archives file on the Zeppelin raid. Pete Wood kindly shared his research on the victims of the air raids in WWII and alerted me to the court case made by Ralph SNAITH's widow, which led to finding eyewitnesses to the bombing. Pete Wood has been researching all casualties of WW1 air raids on the UK. He told me that not one of the families with fatalities in the Palmer’s raid made a claim at the end of the war for reparations from the German government. Authorities such as the Civilian War Claimants Association (CWCA) and the Sumner Commission tried to organise the disbursement of reparations. Pete tells me that it was the practice that if victims had received money from some other source, they did not receive a share of the reparations… which must have happened to the Palmer victims. Pete also suggested that the CWCA may have financed Mary's case and appeals.
The Story Continues
- Appendix (i) 1883 Will of James LANE; (ii) useful Links relating to the LANE Irish origins; (iii) LANE Descendant Report; (iv) transcription of: Malcolm Dillon. "Some account of the works of Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron company"; (v) data concerning fatalities resulting from the Zeppelin raid; (vi) all sources cited.