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No. 36 Squadron Royal Flying Corps in the Great War - The Wartime Memories Project -

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No. 36 Squadron Royal Flying Corps

24th November 1915   From 24th November 1915 a single independent Home Defence flight of two BE2 aircraft was based at the aerodrome at Cramlington tasked with patrolling the North Sea area seeking any enemy shipping off Tyneside.

1st May 1916 A Flight, 36(HD) Squadron move  Edinburgh was attacked by Zeppelins on 2nd/3rd April 1916 and 13 people had been killed. In May 1916 a detachment from 36 Squadron was dispatched from Cramlington to Turnhouse, Edinburgh to provide an independent Home Defence flight covering the Forth. A second detachment was sent to cover the Tees area and 'A' Flight from Cramlington went to the newly built RFC Seaton Carew I airfield, near Hartlepool. The airfield occupied 72 acres and provided two HD pattern airplane sheds in coupled formation and two Bessonneau hangers.

Due to the comparative lack of enemy activity, No 36 Sqn was given the task of training night flying aircrew for other squadrons as well as its patrol work.

8th June 1916   The training role of 36 Squadron ended in June 1916, when the training aircraft and some personnel were transferred to become No 58 (Training) Squadron, also based at Cramlington aerodrome.

No.36 Squadron then concentrated on its Home Defence role. At this time A flight was at Seaton Carew and B flight at Hylton. C flight remained at Cramlington to undertake wireless trials, testing direct communication between the aircraft and ground units.

27th Nov 1916 Zeppelin Raids on Britain  A Zeppelin raid on the night of the 27th–28th of November 1916 targeted the Midlands and North East England. Nine Navy airships took part. The bombing was largely ineffective, killing 4, injuring 37 and causing £12,482 damage and two airships were shot down by the defending aircraft.

L34 crossed the North East coast at 23.30, and dropped thirteen high explosive bombs at the Elwick searchlight battery, which missed, destroying a cow shed and injuring two cows. More seriously the L34 then raided West Hartlepool, sixteen high explosive bombs killing four and injuring eleven more, as well as wrecking houses and demolishing a grandstand at West Hartlepool football stadium. 2nd Lt Ian Pyott of 36 Squadron, took off from Seaton Carew aerodrome in BE2c 2738 and chased Zeppelin L34, which was coned by searchlights, across the skies over Hartlepool and succeeded in shooting it down using incendiary bullets. The airship crashed in flames and fell into the sea about 1,800 yards offshore from the Heugh Lighthouse on the Hartlepool headland, the wreckage burning on the water for some time. 2Lt. Pyott was awarded a Distinguished Service Order for his actions and a plaque on the entrance gates to Seaton Park, commemorates the event. All the Zeppelin crew were killed, two bodies were later washed up, but identification proved impossible, they were buried with military honours in Seaton Carew Cemetery. L34 which had set off from Nordholz in Germany, was captained by Max Dietrich, the uncle of the singer and actress Marlene Dietrich. An another member of the crew was Hermann Pufahl, the father of two small children.

L21 was attacked by three aircraft near Yarmouth. Flt Sub-Lt. Edward Pulling was credited with the victory and awarded a DSO, the other pilots receiving the DFC

The following day a single LVG CIV made the first German aeroplane raid on London, hoping to hit the Admiralty, six 10 kg (22 lb) fell between Victoria station and the Brompton Road. There were no further raids in 1916.

John Doran

10th Aug 1917 A Flight 36(HD) Squadron RFC redesignated  At RFC Seaton Carew II, A Flight 36(HD) Squadron RFC was redesignated as C Flight.

13th March 1918 Zeppelin Raids on Britain  Another raid was attempted, but only one of the three airships reached England, bombing Hartlepool. The bombs people killed eight people and an RFC pilot was killed when he flew into Pontop Pike near Dipton, County Durham.

2Lt E C Morris and 2Lt R D Lindford, 36 Squadron flying FE2d A6422 took off in pursuit of Zeppelin L42 as it flew over Hartlepool and chased the airship for 40 miles out to sea, but were unable to get close enough to fire at it.

John Doran

5th August 1918   By the beginning of 1917 the German High Command was losing faith in the extremely costly air ships campaign, which overall had wreaked only limited structural damage on Great Britain. From May 1917 most bombing raids were carried out by the Gotha bombers although, with a more limited range, these operations were largely limited to London and the South East. There were only seven airship-raids in 1917 and four in 1918. The final airship raid on Great Britain took place on the 5th August 1918. The command airship was shot down over the North Sea by the gunner of a British DH4 twin-seater aircraft flying from South Denes aerodrome, Great Yarmouth. The German Leader of Airships, Peter Strasser, and his 23 crew were all killed. The remaining four airships hurriedly and mistakenly dropped their bombs into the English Channel and turned for home.

The total number of airship attacks on Britain between 1915 and 1918 probably numbered only a total of 12 raids on London and 40 more over the rest of the country, but the Zeppelin was very effective in drawing RFC and RNAS resources away from the battle front. By December 1916 at the height of the Zeppelin threat 17,340 officers and men were in the AA service together with 12 RFC squadrons comprised of 200 officers, 2,000 other ranks and 110 aircraft for home defence duties. By 1918, facing the raids by Gotha bombers, there were 55 Home Defence Squadrons. The threat of bombing certainly reduced the numbers of effective squadrons and trained pilots at the front and thus reduced the pressure on the German front line.

The First Air Raid on Lancashire: The Zeppelin Menace By Scott Carter-Clavell

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No. 36 Squadron Royal Flying Corps

during the Great War 1914-1918.

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