Bombardment of Paris 23 March–9 August 1918


Map Code: Ax02056

The bombardment of Paris, which began in March 1918, is shrouded in mystery. The guns responsible, called the Paris Gun, were shipped back to Germany in August 1918, and were never found, nor were their construction specifications. The Germans were required to surrender a complete Paris Gun to the Allies under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, but never complied: it is presumed they were all destroyed. The bombardment generated initial panic because the source could not be located: a Zeppelin was suspected, or enemy infiltrators. The source was eventually tracked to a hillside near Coucy 75 miles (120 km) from Paris by aerial reconnaissance. Around 350 shells rained down on Paris causing 250 deaths and 620 injured. Their range – over 80 miles (129 km) – and trajectories, piercing the stratosphere, was revolutionary for their time. The worst single incident, when a bomb landed on the roof of a church with a full congregation, resulted in 91 deaths.

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