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Avro 504s before Freidrickshaven raid
Avro 504

On this day 21 November 1914

Published: 21 Nov 2012

Three RNAS Avro 504s from Belfort, France attack Zeppelin sheds at Friedrichshaven. The first strategic air raid in history. It was planned and prepared for in utmost secrecy and when the three pilots took off carrying four 20lb bombs each, none of them had ever dropped a bomb before.

No. 873 was flown by Flight Commander John Tremayne Babington; No. 874, was flown by Squadron Commander Edward Featherstone Briggs (shot down on raid and made a PoW); and No. 875, by Flight Lieutenant Sydney Vincent Sippe. They were all awarded the DSO, (3rd Supplement to London Gazette of Tuesday 29 Deceneber 1914, dated 1 January 1915)

All three aircraft were delivered by SS Manchester from Southampton, 10.11.14 and then by rail to Belfort arriving 13.11.14. and the raid was the maiden flight for these aircraft.

From Fourth Supplement to the London Gazetteof Tuesday 29 December 1914 dated 1 January 1915.
Memorandum by the Director of the Air Department, Admiralty dated 17 December 1914

On 21st November, 1914, Squadron Commander E. F. Briggs, Flight Commander J. T. Babington, and Flight Lieutenant S. V. Sippe, Royal Navy, carried out an aerial attack on the Zeppelin airship sheds and factory at Friedrickshafen on Lake Constance. Leaving French Territory shortly before 10 a.m., they arrived over their objective at about noon, and, although under a very heavy rifle, machine-gun and shrapnel fire from the moment they were sighted, they all three dived steeply to within a few hundred feet of the sheds, when they released their bombs—in all eleven.

Squadron Commander Briggs was wounded, brought down, and made a prisoner, but the other two officers regained their starting-point, after a flight of more than four hours across hostile country under very bad weather conditions. It is believed that the damage caused by this attack includes the destruction of one airship and serious damage to the larger shed, and also demolition of the hydrogen-producing plant, which had only lately been completed.

Later reports stated that flames of considerable magnitude were seen issuing from the factory immediately after the raid.

Image©Fleet Air Arm Museum


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