History: The day a Zeppelin was shot down to protect Purfleet

A UNIQUE national event in the history of the First World War is being commemorated at the Purfleet Heritage Centre – in partnership with Thurrock Council’s Great War Committee and Thurrock Museum.

The first shooting down of a Zeppelin raider over this country occurred on the night of 31 March/1 April 1916. It was co-ordinated by guns and searchlights centred on the protection of the ammunition magazines at Purfleet.

Zeppelin LZ 15 was lit up by searchlights and fired on with anti-aircraft guns. Having been hit by ground fire and losing gas, the airship crashed in the mouth of the Thames and was captured.

At the time the Lord Mayor of London presented gold medals to the men involved in the Thames Defences with the words “Well Hit” as the terror threat from aerial attack had become a national concern.

A historical talk on the event will be presented by local historian Jonathan Catton at No5 Magazine, Purfleet, on the centenary evening – Thursday, 31 March at 7.30pm. Tickets are £3.50 and available from the Purfleet Heritage Centre.

A free open weekend is being held on the following Saturday and Sunday – 2 and 3 April) at No5 magazine where visitors can discover a wealth of local and military heritage, plus an exhibition on the Zeppelin raids.

Additional re-enactment and music of the times will also be presented.

Cllr Jane Pothecary, Thurrock Council’s portfolio holder for communities and chair of the World War One Commemorative Events Committee said: “I would really encourage everyone interested to visit the exhibition and learn more about this significant event which happened over Purfleet.

“The Heritage Museum is a great asset to Thurrock and I’m very grateful to the volunteers involved for their help in putting on this open weekend.”

The Heritage Centre is at No5 Magazine, Centurion Way, Purfleet RM19 1ZY and will be open from 10am to 4.30pm.

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