Home 5 News 5 Downing of German Zeppelin over Suffolk to be remembered

Downing of German Zeppelin over Suffolk to be remembered

A village community is to remember the moment its forebears were thrown into the front line of World War One following a German airship raid.

The German L48 was one of the most advanced “height climber” airships of the conflict.

But during a raid on 17 June 1917 the Zeppelin ran into problems and was shot down over the Suffolk countryside.

A memorial service will be held at St Peter’s Church in Theberton and Eastbridge to mark the centenary.

The Germans dispatched two Zeppelins during the fateful raid which were able to fly at altitudes of 13,000ft (4,000m) – way beyond the 8,000ft (2,400m) flight ceiling of English fighter aircraft.

One – L42 – crossed the Kent coast at Ramsgate and released it bombs.

But L48 endured heavy winds over the coast at Orfordness.

Its compasses froze and it developed engine problems.

John Rea Price, one of the organisers of the service, told how the airship dropped a few bombs over Martlesham and Wickham Market before drifting over Saxmundham and Leiston.

There it was forced to descend to a height that put it in range of Royal Flying Corps fighters, he said.

“Completely crippled by the gunfire, after a terrible descent lasting seven minutes as it became engulfed in flames, the end came in a cornfield between Theberton and Eastbridge.

“Of the 18 crew there were just three survivors.”

The dead were laid to rest in the village churchyard before being moved to the German cemetery in Staffordshire.

Speaking about Sunday’s service, Mr Rea Price said: “We are calling it an act of reflection and reconciliation because we will be remembering not just the 15 crew whose funeral was held in our church and who were then laid to rest in our churchyard, but also our own 15 men who died in that war, some on the Somme the year before and others who were to die a few months later at Passchendaele.”

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