The outbreak of the First World War quickly altered
such perceptions. Just three weeks into the conflict, a German Zeppelin
dropped several bombs on the Belgian city of Antwerp, killing six
citizens in their homes.
First flown in 1900, these giant airships were a huge source of patriotic
pride in Germany, while foreign observers feared them as harbingers
of destruction. A French cartoon from the early months of the war
Wilhelm II riding through the air on a Zeppelin in the company
of the Angel of Death.
In early 1915 the Kaiser sanctioned an air campaign against strategic
targets in Britain that included military bases and ammunitions
dumps but excluded royal palaces and residential areas. On 19 January,
two Zeppelins attacked the eastern coastal towns of Great Yarmouth
and King's Lynn, killing four civilians but causing little significant
damage. A further seven people were killed in the first Zeppelin
attack on London on 31 May. Costlier raids on the capital took place
later in the year. On the night of 13/14 October 1915, for example,
five Zeppelins accounted for the lives of 71 Londoners.