It was a most happy thought on your part that prompted you to visit Captain William Leefe Robinson’s memorial. I was ten years old when that historic duel between Zeppelin and aeroplane took place, and I was one of the millions of spectators who watched the battle. It took place in complete and utter silence, at a height of some eight or nine thousand feet, and one could occasionally see the red tracers of the BE2c’s Pomeroy incendiary bullets and just hear the desperate rattle of the German gunners’ machine guns as they tried in vain to shoot down the airman as he repeatedly attacked from the stern. It was some minutes before he succeeded in destroying the Zeppelin. I remember a red glow appearing at the rear of the airship, a great “woof” as its many gas bags caught fire and blew up, and down it came.
And then London and its suburbs erupted. No other man has been or is ever likely to be given such an ovation; it went on for at least thirty minutes. Everyone and everything that could make a noise did so, and no one gave a damn if there were other Zeppelins around.
Whether it was the L.21 or some other Zeppelin is of little account now. The Register of German Naval Airships tells us of the fate, disastrous or otherwise, of all naval Zeppelins from L.1 to L.72, and, according to this, the L.21 was shot down over England on the night of November 18th, 1916. The only Zeppelin shot down in this country, and over London, in September 1916, was the L.31, so presumably this was the one accounted for by Captain Leefe Robinson.