Bomb from deadly Zeppelin raid to go on display

A WORLD War One bomb dropped on Northampton during an air raid that left a mother and her two daughters dead has been presented to Sywell Aviation Museum nearly 90 years after it was recovered.

The incendiary device – now inactive – will go on public display after decades gathering dust in a County Hall safe.

It was one of 22 bombs dropped on the town from a German Zeppelin airship on the night of October 19, 1917, in a raid which caused the first war casualties in the county since the civil war.

The deaths of Eliza Gammons and her daughters Lilian and Gladys when their house in St James was bombed, were the only fatalities from 29 Zeppelin raids which dropped 66 bombs in the county during the war.

Richard Watts, chairman of Sywell Aviation Museum, said: "This is of huge importance to us. This raid had tragic consequences with these deaths.

"The museum was created to be a memorial to those who died and it is fitting that we can add this to our collection, as well as an educational resource. This is important aspect of the town's history."

Mrs Gammons and her 13-year-old twin daughters Lilian and Gladys were sleeping in their house in Parkwood Street, St James, when one of the bombs fell through the roof and set fire to the top floor.

Mrs Gammons was killed instantly and her daughters died of their injuries within three days, despite being rescued from the burning house by their brother-in-law Private Arthur Bazeley.

They are buried in Dallington Cemetery.

Historians cannot be sure this bomb is the same one that led to their deaths.

But they know it is from the same air raid and was recovered from St James.

The bomb was stored in a safe at County Hall for nearly 90 years, before Mr Watts found out about it and asked Northamptonshire County Council if the museum could display it.

It has now agreed a permanent loan, which was sealed at the council's records office in Wootton Hall Park yesterday morning.

County councillor Andre Gonzales De Savage (Con, East Hunsbury), cabinet member for culture, said: "We are delighted to be able to hand this over to the museum to add to their collection. It represents a tragic but important part of Northampton's history.

"This will enable people to realise just how how devastating and catastrophic the damage caused was. It will help bring history to life for people who do not have a first hand experience of what war is like."

The bomb will go on display along with aviation artefacts at the museum, including parts gathered from crashed planes, machineguns, RAF uniforms and other memorabilia. A special display will be set up about the Zeppelins, with the bomb as the centrepiece of the exhibit.

alison.curtis@northantsnews.co.uk