Z is for Zeppelins

Young men and women went from Springhill to war, as they did from every community. Sadly, some did not return, as happened to every community. Once in WW1 however the war came to Springhill, or at least too close for comfort.

On 25 Sept 1916, a Zeppelin followed, it is thought, the wrong train from Todmorden. This train did not go to Manchester but through Cloughfold which is much smaller than Manchester and 25 miles north. The Zeppelin in pursuit dropped one of its bombs on Lea Bank, a mansion house about 200 yds from Springhill. It missed, and there were no injuries, but that’s a bit close really. A second bomb was dropped on the western outskirts of Cloughfold about half a mile away - again no damage or casualties but again a bit close. Further bombs were dropped through Haslingden towards Bury.

It is said however that this errant Zeppelin did claim a life - that of a song thrush in Holcombe, just north of Bury. The hapless bird was stuffed and mounted with a plate proclaiming it ‘the thrush, being the only fatality in the Zeppelin raid of World War 1’. This now has its own entry on the IWM War Memorials Archive:


where it is beautifully catalogued as ‘stuffed thrush in glass case with plate’ and solemnly listed as being an exact count of casualties.

Well, this begs a few questions:
  • did a minimum of three bombs really only kill one thrush?
  • if the thrush was killed by a bomb, how come there was enough of it left to stuff?
  • and, seriously, it seems a tad disrespectful to those who served and died for a thrush to be included as a casualty of war...but perhaps it reflects the humour which often flourishes during tragedy. Perhaps its just me.
(apparently on the same raid a cluster of bombs killed 13 in Bolton. RIP)

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