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Welshpool’s brush with German war machine

Created on 30/09/2020 @ 12:11


It has been revealed that Welshpool was in the sights of a brutal German death machine at the height of World War I, but thankfully came through unscathed.

A map has circulated online claiming to show how the Great Western Railway tracked the ‘wanderings’ of a lost zeppelin that was thought to be looking for Liverpool.

On the night of January 31, 1916, Germany dispatched nine zeppelins to carry out bombing raids on the north west, but their L14 zeppelin, which was carrying two tonnes of explosives, took a wrong turn in the West Midlands and headed over Shrewsbury and towards Mid Wales instead.

The map, compiled based on the sightings by railway workers on the night, shows that it then continued to Welshpool.

The Times reported that it had dropped one bomb on the Cambridgeshire market town of Wisbech en route, but, rather than dump more over Mid Wales, it is thought that the experienced captain, Alois Bocker, realised he was in the wrong area and performed a large loop, going over Carno, before returning home via the West Midlands where it bombed Ashby, in Leicestershire, and Derby.

The Times stated that the nine zeppelins crossed the North Sea that night and four penetrated more than 150 miles inland. More than 360 bombs were dropped during the attack and there were 183 casualties.

A year later, L14 returned with devastating effect with a successful bombing raid over Edinburgh when 23 bombs killed 13 and and devastated large parts of the city.

Our search for information started when Robert Jones shared the map on the Memories of Welshpool Facebook page this morning.

He said: “Amazing what can pop up when you are looking for something with Google search!

“This is an armed zeppelin that turned left at Shrewsbury when it should have gone straight on during WW1.

“I wonder if any locals spotted it?”

So we are asking, has anyone in your family told the story in the past of the night when the town was under threat from above from the Germans? Let us know at

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