The Baby Killers
The term ‘Baby Killers’ which became the insult for the Zeppelin crews in WW1 is often reported as coming into being after the death of three year old Elsie Leggett in her home in Stoke Newington on 31st May 1915 when Zeppelin LZ38 appeared over North London. But this term had been used earlier in the aftermath of the raids on Norfolk.
The raid of 19th/20th January 1915 was discussed at a national level and The War Illustrated reported on the raid on 30th January 1915. It ran with the headline ‘The Coming of the Aerial “Baby Killers”.
It went onto state, ‘The amount of damage done was small – no more than has happened often in a gas explosion – the loss of life slight; but loathsome blood-mad fiends who could do this foul work and rejoice stirred every Briton’s heart to sterner resolve …’ The article continued, ‘Germany is gloating over the proof that their Zeppelins can cross the North Sea and kill English children of four years old and English women of seventy.’ In reality, no children aged 4 died in the raids on King’s Lynn and Yarmouth and it just shows how certain truths can be twisted to suit a specific aim.
Percy Goate was the youngest victim, who was aged 14 years old, and he was one of two victims from the King’s Lynn raid. Certainly he was a child but not a baby.
I feel this is certainly another story that if not looked into properly can be confused with events that happened later and to me it is perhaps that London was the bigger prize and story in relation to the raids that came after the ones on Norfolk. But as you have seen, and my copy of War Illustrated is an original, the term came a lot earlier than is reported in other accounts and books.