THE AIRSHIP VC – Lieutenant William Leefe Robinson

The following article is reproduced from Update, the Newsletter of Northaw & Cuffley Parish Council.

BE2cThe Parish Council is pleased to confirm the timetable for Saturday 3rd September when we will commemorate the precise 100th anniversary of shooting down of the first German Airship to be brought down on British soil and which came to earth alongside what is now East Ridgeway.

SL13It is important to understand the significance of this event.   During 1915 and 1916 German Airships had caused many deaths and much damage in their overnight raids and the British people believed these Airships were invincible and nicknamed them ‘baby killers’.  As a result of this action, the morale of the British people was much boosted and became a turning point in the War.  Lt Robinson had developed a new way of shooting at the Airships and consequently two other Airships, both Zeppelins, were brought down within four weeks, one in Billericay the other in Potters Bar.  The two Royal Flying Corps Pilots from the same Squadron as Leefe Robinson were awarded the Distinguished Service Order.

Timetable for Saturday 3rd September:
10:30    Brief ceremony at the Memorial on East Ridgeway
12:00    Unveiling of memorial plaque in Millennium Gardens
12:15 – 12:45 (approx.)   Fly-past of a reproduction WW1 aircraft of the type flown by Leefe Robinson, and fly-past of WW2 Dakota Aircraft from The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (subject to weather).
12:45    Speeches and Commemoration service in St Andrews Church
14:45    Matinee performance of ‘The Cuffley VC’ in Cuffley Hall by Cuffley Operatic Society (a musical play on the life and times of Leefe Robinson and includes songs and dance from WW1).
Tickets for the show at £14 (adults) and £10 (children) are available from Anne Rule on 01707 888415 and 07845 260147. 
The show also has performances at 19:45 on 1st, 2nd and 3rd September.

memorialResidents and their Families are warmly invited to attend both the unveiling in Station Road and the commemorations In St Andrews Church led by The Rev Rachel Phillips – but we emphasise the limited space especially around the unveiling ceremony.

Amongst our Official Guests will be Mr Howard Guard, Deputy Lieutenant of Hertfordshire;  Sir Freddie Sowrey, retired Air Marshal of the RAF;  Charles Walker OBE MP;  Mr David Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire;  Air Commodore Christopher Moore representing the RAF;  Steffan Handrick, Naval Attaché of the German Embassy;  Members of Leefe Robinson’s Family;  also one ‘surprise guest’ who we hope to welcome on the day.

A WW1 Exhibition will be held in Cuffley Hall with emphasis on the heroic deeds by William Leefe Robinson who was awarded the Victoria Cross by King George V at Windsor Castle.  The exhibition will contain many historic items supported by a PowerPoint display on a continuous loop telling the events of 2/3 September 1916, also on show will be small parts of the crashed Airship – Schütte Lanz SL11.

graveExhibition Opening times:
Monday 5th September:   Opening ceremony at 17:00, until 19:00
Tuesday 6th September until Friday 9th September:  11:00 – 19:00 daily

Booklets, model kits of the original BE2c aircraft flown by Leefe Robinson, and souvenir pencils will be on sale throughout.

We welcome visits from local schools, societies and organisations.

Any queries should be addressed to Cllr Peter Dace who we have asked to Chair a Committee to plan all commemorations.   Please contact Cllr Dace via the Parish Office.

Page updated 5th July 2016