Air Raids on the WW1 British Home Front

Teachers' notes, activities and linked resources

Curriculum links: 

KS2 History: Local history study
KS3 History: WW1

Aims of resource:

To inform students about the Zeppelin raids on Britain in WW1 and communicate the concept of the Home Front.

Learning objectives:

Knowledge of the German bombing raids on Britain during WW1 
Understanding of the tactical reasons for the air-raids and their consequences
Skills to use evidence to analyse cause and effect of historical events 


Discussion ideas:

  • What reasons might the Germans have had for wanting to disrupt the war effort in Britain?
  • How do you think the pilots and crew of the airships felt, knowing that their bombs could, and did, hit civilians?
  • Do you think it is possible to justify civilian casualties during a war?
  • Beatrice Webb describes feeling excited about the raids and many people went out into the street to watch the airships fly past. Why do you think they might have reacted in this way?

Activity ideas:

  • Debate: ‘The German bombing raids on Britain were/were not an acceptable military tactic in wartime’.
    - Read the account of the air raid on Loughborough and the Scarborough 1914 bombing, especially the account of the German sailor.
    - Use evidence from these sources and your own research to come up with a five-point argument for each perspective.
    - Think about which evidence is the most convincing, and if any may be biased.
    - Swap your points with someone else and see if you can counter their arguments by finding evidence to disprove it.
  • Propaganda: In wartime, the authorities produce different media to convince people to do certain things, like volunteer for the army or grow their own vegetables. How might the German air-raids have been used in British propaganda?

    - Create a propaganda poster about the air-raids on Loughborough to encourage young men to join the army.
    - Take a look at the sample posters on the 1914 Scarborough bombing resource for inspiration.
    - When you have finished, add arrows explaining your choices of pictures, colours, facts, persuasive language.
    - Also, if you can, explain what you have left out of the poster and why.
  • Ideas for further research: 
    - What specific areas of Guilford, London or Loughborough were targeted by German bombers?
    - Which other UK cities were bombed and why?
    - Can you find out the course of a single Zeppelin raid (which towns it crossed and the damage it did?)?
    - Can you find any estimates of how many Zeppelin raids on Britain were completed?
    - Why were Zeppelins replaced by Gotha and Giant bombers?
    - Find examples of the sort of damage Zeppelins did (eg. shrapnel, injuries, destruction of buildings)? 

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