On this day in history : 24th September 1916 – A local policeman rounds up and takes into custody the crew of German Zeppelin LZ-76….which had been forced down near to Colchester, Essex….

Image credit : National Archive Netherlands

On the night of the 23rd a group of four Zeppelins of the Imperial German Army had succeeded in dropping 7,100lb of bombs on London and the surrounding counties…. For Zeppelin LZ-76 this was its first mission….

On the return journey its commander, Kaptain-Leutnant Alois Bocker, altered course to take the airship over Essex – only to be attacked by No. 39 Squadron of the Royal Air Force…. RAF pilot Alfred Brandon, flying a BE.2e fighter managed to hit the Zeppelin…. The airship dumped its guns and equipment in an attempt to gain height – but Bocker soon realised they would not make it across the North Sea – so landed in a field close to Little Wigborough, Essex…. Immediately the crew set about destroying the Zeppelin but only managed to partially burn the hull before being apprehended….

British engineers were able to examine the skeleton of the Zeppelin to later help with plans for British airships R33 and R34….

Zeppelin airships made around 51 bombing raids on Britain, resulting in the deaths of some 557 people and injuring a further 1,358…. Over 5,000 bombs were dropped on towns across Britain…. Out of Germany’s 84 Zeppelins 30 were either shot down or lost in accidents….

The Lewis family, photographed with the wreckage of the Zeppelin behind – Image credit : National Archive Netherlands

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