The End of Zeppelin L70 - August 5 1918

by Arthur

 

You may, or may not be aware of the reasons why we all find it interesting to delve into the past. Most of us have secretly wished we could step back in time, in the safe knowledge we can return to the present, whenever we wish. Countless thousands before us, in a sense, have had the ability to do just that, by recounting experiences and having the ability to recall at will events as they actually happened many years ago. This is one event during the last century, and only because my parents told it to me as a child, will I attempt to enlighten readers of my website. Although you may be aware of the event, you may not know some of the details I have researched.

The August Bank Holiday during the summer of 1918, was in fact, the best weather recorded for a bank Holiday in seven years .The beach at Great Yarmouth was crowded with holiday makers enjoying the late afternoon sun. Crossing the North Sea at around 16,000-ft. and heading towards the coast of Norfolk appeared five Zeppelins flying roughly in a V formation! These giant dirigibles must have been very impressive. L 70 for instance was 693 feet in length. This was the first air attack in four months. One last effort, as it must have been obvious to the German high command, that defeat was staring them in the face. On board L70 on this day, was the Leader of Airships Fregattenkapitan Peter Strasser. Meanwhile, with the last rays of the sun reflecting from their hulls, they could clearly be seen approaching the coast. At the Air station on the Denes at Great Yarmouth a two seater De havilland D H 4 was standing by awaiting its pilot Major Edgar Cadbury, who with his rear gunner Captain Robert Leckie, were quickly in the air and climbing away from the enemy to gain height. It was just on dusk when Captain Leckie approaching almost head on, fired a long burst of explosive bullets from his Lewis machine gun at 600 yards range, blowing a large hole in the fuselage. This in turn caused a fire in the fabric, which quickly ran the whole length of the airship, causing its nose to lift before plunging into the sea, taking the lives of the 21 members of the crew, including Peter Strasser.The four remaining airships their commanders stunned at witnessing the demise of L70, abandoned the operation and returned to their home base. On returning to the airstation, 25 year old Major Cadbury, heir to the confectionery Empire, and his gunner Captain Robert Leckie were welcomed as heroes. On 7th August the skeletal remains of L70 were discovered on the seabed in 48 ft. of water. During the next three weeks most of this was brought ashore and in the remains several bodies were discovered, including that of Fregattenkapitan Peter Strasser. All of these crewmembers, including some which were washed ashore, were given a burial at sea, several days later.

Arthur.E. Bensley

 

 

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