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Captain William Leefe Robinson, V.C. - Shots down SL11

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BerichtGeplaatst: 13 Okt 2012 15:36    Onderwerp: Captain William Leefe Robinson, V.C. - Shots down SL11 Reageer met quote

On the afternoon of the 2nd September 1916, sixteen airships, twelve from the German Naval Airship Division and four from the Army Division, set out for England on what was to be the biggest air raid of the war. For the first time the two services were combining. The vessels were carrying a total load of 32 tons of bombs. The 'Leader of Airships,' Fregattenkapitan Peter Strasser, was still determined that his airships would bring England to her knees.

Among the army airships was one from the Schatte-Lanz factories at Leipzig. The SL11 was the most recent addition to the fleet having entered into service on the 12th August 1916. It had set off on the raid of 31st August, but had been turned back by bad weather. On 2nd September it would complete the journey to London for the first, and last, time.

In command of SL11 was Hauptmann Wilhelm Schramm, an experienced airship captain who knew the area he was to bomb better than most of his colleagues. He had been born at Old Charlton, Kent, and lived in England until the age of 15 when on the death of his father, the London representative of the Siemens electrical firm, he returned to Germany and joined the army. He was given his first command in December 1915. Schramm had an experienced crew flying with him that night who had already served with him on several raids in the Zeppelin airship LZ39. They totalled only 16 men, machinists, gunners, 'elevator' man and 'bomb' man, officers and Captain.

At approximately 23.00 hours the Home Defence squadrons were put on alert. Radio messages from the airships had been intercepted, and a welcoming party was prepared. Ten aircraft were sent up that night. First away was BE2c 2963, her pilot having first personally supervised the pre-flight checks. The fog was thick and getting worse, but Robinson was convinced it would be clearer higher up. He had three drums of Brock and Pommeroy ammunition, and just enough fuel to keep him aloft for three and a half hours. He took off safely and disappeared into the mist.

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