Tuesday, 16 October 2018
I spent a decent afternoon listening to Peter Jones telling us about Zeppelins and the Great War. Around 20 of us were happily ensconced, fed tea and cheap biscuits and informed of the basics of dropping bombs from 17,000 feet.
From steam powered dirigibles to airships that could fly at such a height, higher in 1914 than any aircraft could reach, and cover over 2000 miles with 5 ton of bombs on board and while killing a mere 500 or so people during their short reign they did create mass panic and fear in the civilian population. The mental outlook early in the century was one of technical progress and wonderful scientific achievement the thought that such creations could hurl death from far above went to the heart of the populace. War had not touched the civil population since 1745 and the experience for those on the 'Home Front' must have been worrying. However in comparison to the real war taking place in other arts of the globe this was nothing but pinpricks to the UK, some 500 men died every day on the western front!
The hall is not great for pictures, the darkness is slight and the sun shining through at the far end of the hall was a pest however we got through it, most are regulars at such talks, and for £4 (£3 as most are over 65) it is a good afternoon for many.
As the museums military expert in that I know nothing else and have read a book on the war I found I knew most of what was coming though I did not realise that the anti-aircraft guns, invented merely to fight Zeppelins, had a success rate of hitting the beast at 1 in every 8000 rounds! Zeppelins are difficult to see in the dark and moving at 65 mph are not where you saw them when your shell arrives 20 seconds later. No wonder they were so hard to hit. Hit they were and of the 103 that were made some 51 were destroyed. With 20 men aboard, and most died as the beast fell to the ground in flames, this was a costly exercise but keep in mind it was less costly than the front line. The propaganda offered by such terror bombing was worth the loss some would say and by 1917 the Gotha bomber was taking the place of hydrogen filled balloons. These planes were more stable and better at dealing with windy conditions even if they could not get above 13,000 feet. These aircraft continued the bombing campaign and like the Zeppelin menace causing many aircraft to be based in Essex to defend London and limiting their use on the western front.
Considering the morning had been reasonably quiet and when busy all under control mostly it has been a good day. No mistakes, no arguments, everything went smoothly, the girls all smiled without being after something and I made it up the stairs without calling for help. A good day.