100-year-old former Welwyn Garden City woman recalls First World War Zeppelin air raid

FEW people alive today could recall the terror of taking shelter from a World War One Zeppelin.

But Sylvia Keech (nee Wren), who turned 100 last Monday, is one such eyewitness.

Sylvia remembers the ominous airship slinking silently over Homestead Lane, WGC, before it was shot down over Cuffley by William Leefe Robinson, on September 3, 1916.

Before it was downed all the children at her school had to take refuge in a ditch apart from Sylvia, who simply went home as she lived next door to her school.

A former original resident of Hatfield Hyde, before its transformation to WGC, Sylvia also recalls going to a pump to collect water during her youth, when she lived next to St Mary Magdalene Church, or the ‘Mud Hut Chapel’ as it was known, which served as a school.


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Daughter Linda Moody said her mum’s first husband, David Wilden, was killed in World War Two, but that she went on to remarry and had two children by her second husband William George Keech; Linda, 62, and Charles, 59.

She also has five grandchildren and five great great-grandchildren.

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Mrs Moody said that despite frailty brought about by her longevity Sylvia, who left WGC in 1955, was still “very positive”.

She added: “She can still remember the old places and old times.

“She’s always been bright and enjoyed a laugh and a joke.”

Family gathered, along with a singer, to mark the occasion at the weekend, at a celebration at Sylvia’s residential home in Wisbech, Cambs, where she has lived for the last seven years, after moving there from Bournemouth.

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