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58571: Sir Charles Wakefield Medal - Zeppelin L15

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posted on 2024-02-23, 23:00 authored by Great War Archive Project Team

The commander of the L15 was Kapitanleutnant Joachim Breithaupt. On the 31st March 1916 (note date!), at 21.45 hours, the L15 received a direct hit from the AA gun at Purfleet, Essex.

The AA shell damaged four of the gas cells (numbers 9, 11, 12, and 16), and the L15 began to lose height - despite the crew chucking out everything, to lose weight.

While the L15 got closer to earth, it was attacked by 2Lt Alfred de Bathe Brandon RFC, 19 RA Sqn (Hainault Farm), in a BE 2C. Brandon climbed above the L15 and tried to destroy it by dropping incendiary bombs, and Ranken darts onto the top of the hull. He was not succesful.

But eventually the Zeppelin became too heavy to fly, and she came down in the sea off Margate at 00.15 (1st April) - close to the Kentish Knock lightship. One crew member, ObsigMt Willy Albrecht, was drowned. The rest of the crew (16 members in total) were rescued by the armed trawler Olivine (and then transferred to HMS Vulture).

This image is of a gold medal awarded by Sir Charles Wakefield, Lord Mayor of London. Originally he had promised a significant monetary reward for the first gun crew to shoot down a Zeppelin. However, in the event numerous gun crews put in a claim as being the one which hit the Zeppelin, all having fired on it. As a result some three hundred medals were issued to various members of the gun crews and searchlight batteries involved, the large money prize funding their manufacture in 8-carat gold.

The sodden, half-sunk remains of the L15 were then taken under tow but the airship broke up off Westgate and only small sections were hauled ashore, where parts were obviously liberated by souvenir hunters. Eventually the sea reclaimed what was left of the airship on the beach.

Other photos show the L-15 Zeppelin and photos of the captured crew from a copy of the Illustrated London News, dated Saturday, April 22 1916.

History

Identifier

8932.cpd| 3510.jpg|GWA_1784_large_obv.jpg 3511.jpg|GWA_1785_large_rev.jpg 3512.jpg|GWA_1786_bestl15.jpg 3513.jpg|GWA_1787_crew.jpg

Subject

Breithaupt, Joachim; Wakefield, Sir Charles

Date

March 1916 - April 1916

Date Created

31/03/1916

Temporal Coverage

01/04/1916

Source

Multiple

Medium

Mixed

Type

Multiple

Pages

1, 2, 3, 4

Number of Pages

4

Contributor

Everett Sharp | John Rowlands

Rights

The Great War Archive, University of Oxford / Primary Contributor

Publisher

The Great War Archive, University of Oxford

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