Story by Richard Godley
On Tuesday, 26th September, 1916 a Zeppelin blitzed the Burngreave area, seeking to destroy armaments and munitions factories in that area. Those targets were mainly missed, but 28 people were killed in their homes.
The Zeppelin Study Group are researching the tragedy. John Heath undertakers have let us inspect their funeral records, which show that Heaths buried 18 victims, including 14-month-old Horace Hames – along his parents Levi and Beatrice. The family that suffered the most in the Zeppelin raid was Selina and Joseph Tyler, killed along with their five children: Joseph, 14, Ernest 11, Albert, 8, Amelia, 5, and John, 2.
The Zeppelin was L-22, commanded by Kapitanleutnant Martin Dietrich, whose navigational instruments were so primitive he reported being unsure whether he had bombed Lincoln or Sheffield. Despite 13 previous air-raid warnings (‘electric buzzers’) this was the city’s first attack.
The L-22 airship was almost 600ft in length, with a diameter of just over 60ft, two gondolas, and four propellers. It was inflated with hydrogen and the crew probably numbered about 20.
Defences around Sheffield were described as ‘shambolic’ after the L-22 raid. Officers of gun batteries were reported to be attending a dance in the city centre, but as the night was cloudy it is unlikely they could have done much to deter L-22.
The project is looking to support research for a publication and create a walking trail in the area supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. If you would like to find out more contact Richard Godley, Project officer on 07854 646 742, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www. sheffieldzeppelinraid.co.uk