It was 99 years to the day that Zeppelin Lz33 landed near the little Essex village of Little Wigborough, in the early hours on 24th September 1916. The story that follows had become somewhat folklore around the local area.
Having been damaged by shell fire and with no hope of making it home, the captain (Alois Bocker) landed the airship in a field near the village. Anxious not to let the ship fall into enemy hands he set fire to it.
Although at war he still had thoughtfulness to try and warn the occupants of a nearby cottage of the impending fire, before setting off with his crew of 22 men down the country lanes. Soon he would be met by Special Constable Edgar Nicholas who asked the captain if he had seen a Zeppelin crash, the captain replying in perfect English to ask how many miles to Colchester it was.
Suspicious about their presence in the county he followed the men towards Peldon where there were met by two other specials. Still very much outnumbered and not really sure what to do next they managed to escort the crew to the post office to present them to PC Charles Smith.
He had the answer and marched all the crew to army camp at Mersea Island. This earned PC Smith a promotion to sergeant and as well as being awarded a merit badge for ‘coolness and judgement’
To add to the events of the evening a baby girl was being delivered nearby by Dr John Salter, just around the same time the airship was being set alight. Inspired by what he saw out of the window he suggested to her mother that the baby be named Zeppelina who happily agreed.
The baby girl would grow up to become a local celebrity but would grew very tired of her name.
Zeppelin image courtesy of the Imperial War Museum
PC Charles Smith image courtesy of Essex Police Museum
From the Trenches to Tendring is revealing personal snapshots of the Great War by focusing on documents and objects in private hands and bringing them together with local collections into an exhibition and online database. Each item added to the project collection is researched and if possible accompanied by a recording of people talking about their item and their family stories of the war. By doing this we are hoping to explore the social and emotional impact on families and friends at home.
Some of our recent discoveries have been a collection of embroidered postcards sent home to Clacton from France by David Calver and kept by his daughter and now great grand-daughter. There are a variety of designs on the postcards including regiment badges and flags, and some have pencil written messages home. We are scanning the postcards to collect them and making a start on our research while David’s great grand-daughter looks out more of his things that are stored in her loft.
We have also collected photos of two brothers, one in the army and the other a sailor on HMS Victory. At this stage we’re not sure what their names are or what their stories are, but their family connection with Tendring goes back to after the Second World War.
We are inviting people to bring their WW1 collections and their family stories to us at roadshow events around Tendring, the first of which takes place on Saturday 19th September at Jaywick Martello Tower as part of the Towers Tenth event celebrating 10 years since their opening. Further events are scheduled to take place at Brightlingsea Museum on 28th September and Clacton Library in October.
There is also a chance to contribute to our postcard from the past activity, using memorabilia and ephemera to collage and create a collective art work which will be displayed at the final project exhibition at Jaywick Martello Tower in 2016.
To find out more about what we are doing, come along to one of our roadshows or email us on TrenchestoTendring@outlook.com
From the Trenches to Tendring is a Friends of Jaywick Martello Tower project funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, Essex County Council and Tendring District Council.
September 16th sees the 100 year anniversary of the forming of the first Women’s Institute in Britain at Llanfair PG, on Anglesey, North Wales.
It was formed during the First World War to encourage countrywomen to get involved in growing and preserving food to help to increase the supply of food to the war-torn nation.
The first WI in Britain was formed under the auspices of the Agricultural Organisation Society (AOS). AOS Secretary, John Nugent Harris, appointed Canadian Madge Watt to set up WIs across the UK.
There were plenty formed across Essex during the Great War but the first WI in England was Singleton WI in Sussex.