Award bid for charred fabric of airship shot down in Welwyn Hatfield

PUBLISHED: 09:14 12 September 2018 | UPDATED: 09:14 12 September 2018

The airship fragment. 
Picture: Supplied by Welwyn Hatfield Council

The airship fragment. Picture: Supplied by Welwyn Hatfield Council


A remnant of one of the most dramatic air battles of the First World War has been put forward for an award by Mill Green Museum.

Lt Leefe Robinson 
Picture: Supplied by Welwyn Hatfield CouncilLt Leefe Robinson Picture: Supplied by Welwyn Hatfield Council

The fragment is from a German airship which was shot down by Lieutenant William Leefe Robinson - the first British pilot to do this – over Cuffley in September 1916.

The fragment is vying with objects from other local museums for the Hertfordshire Association of Museums Object of the Year Award.

Lt Leefe Robinson won a Victoria Cross, the highest honour to be bestowed upon a serving pilot, for his courageous actions in the ‘David and Goliath’ air battle with the Schütte-Lanz airship, SL 11.

His feat also had a profound effect on the morale of the British public, as many had previously believed that the German airships were indestructible.

Other airships were shot down over the next few months using the combat techniques Lt Leefe Robinson had employed.

Councillor Terry Mitchinson, executive member for leisure, culture and communications, said: “This object is special as it is rare to find remains of the fabric of airships which have crashed.

“Normally only metal parts are found.

“The charring around the edge of the fabric brings home the horror which must have been felt by those on board the airship, and those on the ground as it was shot.

“This fragment is currently on display at Mill Green Museum, as part of its exhibition: The War to End All Wars.

“I’d encourage everyone to visit this fantastic exhibition, and vote for this fragment in the Hertfordshire Association of Museums Awards.”

Lt Leefe Robinson became a celebrated figure thanks to his actions.

He subsequently returned to the front line but was shot down and held as a prisoner of war until repatriation at the war’s end. Tragically he died of Spanish flu that same year.

A monument was erected to him in Cuffley, close to the site of the crash, which still stands today.

To vote for fragment, visit

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