Parish Council Commemorates 100th Anniversary of the Death of ‘The Airship VC’


Details of this event were published in the Autumn edition of Update.

William Leefe Robinson , in the early hours of 3rd September 1916, shot down the first German Airship that came to earth on British soil – it landed in flames alongside  East Ridgeway and all sixteen members of the German crew were killed.

‘Leefe’ Robinson, as he became to be known after his death (during his short lifetime he was known as Billy) was just twenty-one when he shot down the Airship, a Schutte Lanz SL11.  He was awarded the Victoria Cross by King George V at Windsor Castle on 9th September 1916.

He returned to military action in France in February 1917 but was shot down two months later and incarcerated in varying German prisoner of war camps until his release on Armistice Day 1918.  He was in poor health and the national flu pandemic caused his death at age twenty-three on 31st December 1918.  He is buried at All Saints Church, Harrow Weald.

A service of commemoration will be led by the Reverend Christopher Kilgour at the East Ridgeway Memorial on Monday 31st December at 1030, followed by light refreshments in Cuffley Hall.   During the ceremony the new RFC Wings, to replace those that went missing from the Memorial in the 1960’s will be dedicated by Rev Kilgour.

The Memorial Obelisk has been listed at Grade 11 by Historic England earlier this year.