Scars of War reading 2

As promised here as some of the readings/research made in West Norfolk for the Scars of War project in the autumn of 2018: The research for this piece was undertaken by Lindsey Bavin, manager at the True’s Yard Fisherfolk Museum. The museum holds photos from 1915 showing the damage caused in the Zeppelin raids.

The Zeppelin Raid of Lynn

Alice Maud Rowe was born in July 1888. In 1909 she married Percy George Gazley from Wisbech. He had enlisted in the Army in 1904 and served as a private for three years. With the outbreak of war Percy was once again called up to fight in the 3rd Battalion, Prince Consort’s Own Rifles. On 27th October 1914 he was killed shortly before the First Battle of Ypres.

Riffleman Gazley is commemorated on Panel 10 of the Ploegsteert Memorial (image from G Skinner)

On the night of 19th January 1915, Alice was dining with her neighbours Mr and Mrs Fayers of 11 Bentinck Street (now St James Street and Blackfriars Street) just a few doors down from her own Rose Cottage.  She was unaware that two Zeppelins had set out across the Channel.  Their original target had been the docks and industrial areas of Humberside but strong winds instead led to their arrival at Norfolk’s coastline around 7.55pm. By 10:50pm the L.4 arrived at King’s Lynn. The Fayers and Alice had just finished supper when she remarked “There’s a dreadful noise!” seconds later the first bomb exploded. Alice dashed outside to see what was happening just as the second bomb fell. Her last words:

“Oh Good God, what is it?”

British airship over King’s Lynn 1915 – image from Picture Norfolk

Mr and Mrs Fayers were pulled from the rubble of their home remarkably with only minor injuries. Next door at No.12- the Goate family had suffered a terrible ordeal. The 1st bomb had smashed through the skylight of the children’s bedroom where young Percy Goate and his 4-year-old sister, Ethel slept. Their parents John and Mary were first alerted by the explosion in nearby Tennyson Avenue. Mary ran to the children’s bedroom. John recalled the moment the bomb exploded – he had reached out to grab the bedframe just at the whole room collapsed and he was pinned down by the rubble and furniture

“I could hear my wife and baby calling for help and I could do nothing…I heard nothing of the boy…and I think I should have done had he been alive”

Mary and Ethel were blown across the room but survived and were taken to hospital. John was eventually freed from the wreckage. Percy’s body was recovered shortly after midnight.

Alice Gazley’s father Henry, searched the rubble throughout the night. With help from local policemen they found her body the next morning. Her injuries were remarkably similar to those of Percy Goate- minor cuts and bruises. It is believed that they had both died from shock. However, the cause of death ruled by the coroner stated they had died from

“The effects of the acts of the King’s enemies”.

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