19 April 2024

Town marks anniversary of first air raid

by Ray Duffill

People in Hedon are this week set to mark the 106th anniversary of the first bombing raid on the town.

An explosion woke residents in the early hours of August 22, 1917. Windows rattled, rafters creaked and the ground shook. Hedon was the victim of a raid by a German aerial war machine – a Zeppelin airship. The Great War had arrived in the town.

On Tuesday, August 22, it is the 106th anniversary of the Hedon Zeppelin attack – the first-ever bombing raid on Hedon from the air. The town had never experienced such a terrifying attack. The German Zeppelin had arrived undetected in the night, and it struck with no warning at about 1am.

Five high-explosive bombs were dropped over Hedon. The bombing blew out all the windows, save one, from the Hedon Catholic Church in Baxtergate. However, the bombs destroyed the Primitive Methodist Chapel that had stood on Baxtergate since 1873.

An emergency meeting of the Methodist Chapel Trustees was called later that day of the bombing. The minutes of the meeting record: “The bomb fell on the harmonium, which
was standing just in front of the desk, the harmonium being blown to pieces….

“The premises were left in order, the gas having been turned off about 9.30. The Chapel clock had stopped at one o’clock in the morning of the 22nd of August, leading one to believe that was the time when the bomb exploded.”

Fortunately, there were no serious casualties during the air raid, although one man was slightly injured by the Baxtergate bombing. The Baxtergate Methodist Chapel building rubble was eventually cleared and the search for a bigger site resulted in the present Hedon Methodist Church being built In Church Lane, Hull Road 100 years ago in 1923.