Zeppelin L32 Aluminium Brooch
n 1915, German Zeppelins commenced bombing missions including London, Edinburgh, the North East, the Midlands, and the Home Counties.
On the night of 23/24 September 1916, Zeppelins set out to bomb London. These were newly designed and built Zeppelins, superior to the Zeppelins which had previously flown over England.
Zeppelin L32 was shot down by Frederick Sowrey, RFC, aged 23, and crashed near Snails Farm, South Green, Great Burstead, Near Billericay. Its target was London, but because of an anti-aircraft barrage, it dropped its bombs near Purfleet. It began to make its was back when it was intercepted by Sowrey who was on routine night patrol. It was picked out in the sky by searchlights and Sowrey launched his attack. Firing drums of incendiary ammunition into the airship, she caught alight and plummeted to the ground at sometime after 1 a.m. All 22 of the crew were killed.
One witness described how in the night sky he saw a pink glare which turned to coppery red, then a ball of flame emerged which changed its shape to a perpendicular cylindrical mass of flame.
By 3 o'clock that night, not only had the local people rushed to see the wreckage, but cars full of Londoners started to arrive to view the wreckage of twisted and broken aluminium struts. Access to the area was limited by a narrow country lane and by 8 o'clock it was reported that the lane was blocked with "motor cars, motor-cycles, bicycles, traps, tradesmen's carts, and pedestrians, all jammed together". By far the most popular transport was bicycles with hundreds laying abandoned on the fields.
Souvenir hunting was prevented by a cordon of soldiers armed with fixed bayonets, and police, but this did not deter the souvenir hunters who scoured nearby potato and mangold fields looking for debris. Even lemonade sellers set up their stalls in an attempt to profit on the spectacle.
A similar item is in the Imperial War Museum Collection.
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