A century after the skies above Potters Bar were lit up by the burning hulk of a German Zeppelin, we are working with local volunteers and the Heritage Lottery to remember this historic event.
The shooting down of the Luftschiffe 31 aircraft by 2nd Lt Wulstan Joseph Tempest on 1 October 1916 proved a turning point in World War 1. All 19 men on board were killed. Among the casualties was Heinrich Mathy, who was Germany's most successful air raid commander.
Thousands of people saw the airship come down and thousands more heard about it from reports and souvenir postcards that circulated at the time. Second Lt Tempest received a Distinguished Service Order medal for his actions.
To mark the 100th anniversary of this evocative incident, a temporary display and a series of activities were held in Oakmere Park, where the great airship plunged to Earth.
In a touching tribute, the Mayor of Hertsmere Councillor Pete Rutledge and Colonel Hermann Hanke of the German Air Attaché shook hands over a wreath laid in honour of the airmen, as the haunting sounds of a bugle played the Last Post.
Members of the public were able to see photos and remains from the crash-site, including those of the oak tree which the stricken ship crashed into and which later became known as the ‘Zeppelin Oak’. In addition, on display was a replica Sopwith Pup, a one-seater plane used during World War One, and a bell shelter, donated by a local resident and used as a lookout post during the World Wars.
A short film of the memorial event is below and more photos are available to view here.
Funding for the event and the restoration of the bell shelter has been received from the Heritage Lottery. A permanent display of Zeppelin remains and memorabilia is available at Potters Bar Museum.