Gotha Raids

By kind permission of John King, Author

The re-organisation resulted in a great improvement but it did, of course, have little effect on the day-to-day lives of the ordinary residents of the district. At this time they were more concerned at the new German aerial fury — the Gotha aircraft which on 25 May had carried out a daylight raid on the coast, dropping 139 bombs and killing ninety-five people, mainly civilians, in Folkestone. Another raid followed on 5 June killing 64 in Sheerness and Shoeburyness.

It was the raid on Wednesday 13 July that would have been witnessed from Grove Park when twelve Gothas approached the capital in fine weather. It was one of those occasions that it was unthinkable not to have observed if one lived in London. The death toll that day was fifty-seven. The raid did not appear to touch S E London, but the reaction of the St Mildred’s vicar was emotional. Describing it as very serious in the July magazine, he went on to describe the war being waged by Germany as one against all civilian life and property, although he could not have known that the Kaiser’s order restricted bombing to military targets, not an easy task. Farquhar continued: ‘It is horrible to think that the lives of little children should be the penalty of this evil spirit that has been bred in the German breasts by the military caste. The world’s safety lies in the smashing for good and all of the fond and immoral illusion of the Kaiser and his hordes We are punishing Germany for these cruel raids day by day, not by emulating her devilish spirit but by fighting cleanly and …. successfully’.

He was not to know that the government was planning similar action to that of the enemy, but even more extravagant was his language when he described Germany as “the pariah of all society. As long as the world lasts, the German name will stink, her punishment will be the righteous scorn and mistrust of all the nations”.

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