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Zeppelin LZ61 (L21)

10th January 1916 Q Class Zeppelin  Zeppelin LZ61 (L21)

  • Production Ref: LZ61
  • Class type : Q
  • Tactical ref: L21
  • Usage: Military
  • First Flight: 10th January 1916


Carried out 17 reconnaissance missions and 10 attacks on England dropping a total 14,442 kilograms (31,839 lb) of bombs.

  • It was intercepted and destroyed by
  • Flight–Lieutenant Egbert Cadbury, flying BE 2C, No. 8265,
  • Flight Sub–Lieutenant Gerard William Reginald Fane, flying RAF BE 2C No. 8421
  • Flight Sub–Lieutenant Edward Laston Pulling, flying BE 2C, No. 8626,
  • The aircraft were firing phosphor rounds.

L 21 fell into the sea about eight miles east of Lowestoft on the 28th November 1916. There were no survivors.

31st Jan 1916 Zeppelin raids in West Midlands  Tipton, Bradley, Wednesbury and Walsall were bombed in one of the heaviest air raids of the war, with the loss of 35 lives. Nine Zeppelins set out from the north west coast of Germany with Liverpool being their primary target. The L21 dropped bombs on the Black country between 2000 and 2030 when Kapitan Leutnant Max Dietrich, lost in the clouds, mistook the Black Country for Liverpool.

Three high explosive bombs fell on Waterloo Street and Union Street, Tipton, demolishing two houses and setting the gas main on fire. Three incendiary bombs then fell on Bloomfield Road and Barnfield Road. Fourteen residents of Tipton were killed.

Five high explosives fell on Lower Bradley, resulting in the deaths of Maud and William Fellows, on the bank of the Wolverhampton Union Canal, a commemorative plaque still hangs on the wall of the Bradley pumping station nearby. At 2015 the Zeppelin was over Wednesbury, dropping bombs near the Crown Tube works, in the area of King Street and at the back of the Crown and Cushion Inn in High Bullen and Brunswick Park Road. Fourteen lives were lost.

The Zeppelin then headed north and bombed Walsall, destroying Wednesbury Road Congregational Church, on the corner of Wednesbury Road and Glebe Street. It went on to bomb the grounds of the General Hospital, Mountrath Street and the town centre, where three lives were lost outside the Science and Art Institute in Bradford Place, including Mary Julia Slater, the Lady Mayoress of Walsall, who was a passenger on the number 16 tram.

A second wave of bombs was dropped by L19 at about midnight, causing considerable damage to buildings in Wednesbury, Dudley, Tipton and Walsall.

31st Jan - 1st Feb 1916. The first raid of 1916 was carried out by the German Navy. Nine Zeppelins were sent to Liverpool on the night of 31 January – 1 February. A combination of poor weather, difficult navigation and mechanical problems scattered the aircraft across the English Midlands and several towns were bombed. A total of 61 people were reported killed and 101 injured by the raid. Fifteen of these fatalities occurred in the town of Tipton. Despite ground fog, 22 aircraft took off to find the Zeppelins but none succeeded. Six aircraft were damaged beyond repair and two pilots were killed when attempting to land. One airship, L 19, crashed in the North Sea because of engine failure and damage from Dutch ground–fire with all 16 crew being lost.  More info.

2nd September 1916 Zeppelin raid on London  The biggest raid to date was launched on 2–3 September, with 12 German Navy airships and four from the German Army taking part. A combination of rain and snowstorms scattered the airships while they were still over the North Sea. None of the naval airships reached London, and only the army's LZ 98 and the newly commissioned Schütte-Lanz SL 11 achieved their objective.

SL 11 came in over Foulness with the intention of attacking the capital from the northwest. It dropped a few bombs over London Colney and South Mimms before it was picked up by a searchlight over Hornsey at about 0150 and subjected to an intense but ineffective barrage. It was lost in cloud over Wood Green but rediscovered by the searchlights at Waltham Abbey as it bombed Ponders End. At around 0215 one of the three aircraft in the sky that night finally came into range, a BE2c piloted by Lt. William Leefe Robinson flying from Suttons Farm. Robinson fired three drums of ammunition from his Lewis gun, one on each of three passes. After he emptied the third drum, the airship began burning from the stern and was quickly enveloped in flames. It fell to the ground near Cuffley, witnessed by the crews of four of the naval Zeppelins. There were no survivors.

For bringing down the first rigid airship downed on British soil and the first 'night fighter' victory Leefe Robinson received the Victoria Cross. The pieces of SL 11 were gathered up and sold by the Red Cross to raise money for wounded soldiers.

For unknown reasons, when the SL 11 became the first German airship to be shot down over England, it was described officially and in the press as Zeppelin L 21 (LZ 61's tactical number). This mis-identification persisted for decades, even though it is clear that the authorities were always aware of SL 11's correct identity. It has been suggested that the reason for this confusion was a calculation by the authorities that the downing of a hated and feared Zeppelin "baby killer"' would play better with the public than the destruction of an almost unknown Schütte-Lanz type. The loss of SL 11 ended the German Army's interest in raids on Britain.

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.

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