14 May 1917 – Zeppelin destroyed

On 26 April the Admiralty put a new tracking system in place to detect Zeppelins. As the Zeppelin patrolled, their courses were methodically plotted by the British wireless interception stations, and if they approached within 150 miles of the English Coast the position, course, and speed were communicated direct to one or more of the East Coast flying-boat bases.

Local commanders then had discretion to send out aircraft – keeping them up to date with the Zeppelin’s position by wireless.

Soon after dawn this morning, in misty weather, news was received of a Zeppelin near the Terschelling Light Vessel.

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Robert Leckie

A Curtiss H12 ‘Large America’, manned by Flight Lieutenant Christopher John Galpin, Flight Sub-Lieutenant Robert Leckie, Chief Petty Officer Vernon Frank Whatling, and Air Mechanic J Laycock, was sent out from Yarmouth.

After eighty miles, the flying-boat shut down the wireless to lessen the chances of discovery. At 0448, the crew spotted Zeppelin L22 ten to fifteen miles away, cruising slowly at 3,000 feet, The flying-boat was 2000 feet up and then climbed another 1,000 feet.

Leckie made a skilful approach and dived on the Zeppelin until he was twenty feet below and fifty feet to starboard of her gondolas. Then Flight- Lieutenant Galpin opened fire from the two Lewis guns in the forward cock-pit. After a burst of fire both guns jammed, and the pilot turned away to try and clear the guns. But no second attack was necessary. As the flying-boat turned, the L22 began to glow, and within a few seconds she was falling in flames. Her skeleton plunged upright into the sea, leaving no trace in the dawning light save a mound of black ash on the surface of the water.

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A publicity shot of the crew and their H12

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