Authentic section of WWI German Zeppelin L33 combined with original art by Ron Cole in 13x19-inch wall-hanging display with provenance and history.
Excitement came to the small village of Little Wigborough on the night of 24 September 1916, with the crash of the German Zeppelin airship L33. The airship had been on a bombing raid over London and was returning to Germany. She was, however, hit by gunfire over the East End and she then struggled to stay aloft. Losing height over Mersea Island, L33 came to earth straddling the lane to Little Wigborough Church and only a few yards from New Hall Cottages.
The crew all escaped from the airship and the German Captain, Aloys Bocker, went to the cottages to warn them that he was about to set the airship on fire. They were somewhat terrified and did not answer the door - but occupants and cottages all survived the resulting inferno.
Captain Bocker then marched his crew along the lane - until they were met by Special Constable Edgar Nicholas. The German crew surrendered. Edgar Nichols was soon joined by Special Constable Elijah Trailer and then by Police Sergeant Ernest Edwards who was on leave, staying in the lane. The crew were marched to Peldon Post Office and then on to Mersea Island. The Military met them at the Strood and took over.
The Rev Pierrepont Edwards, vicar of West Mersea, met the party and accompanied them to Mersea High Street where they met local parishioners. The Vicar curbed threats of a lynching and the injured German received further treatment at West Mersea Post Office (No 11 High Street). The party then marched to the Artillery Camp between Beach Road and Lower Kingsland Road (where there were then no houses). As the tented camp was not sufficiently secure to hold prisoners, the vicar offered the Church Hall in High Street North. The injured crewman slept at the Vicarage next door while the rest were kept in the hall, although the airship commander would not sleep with his crew.
The one fatality of the night was Alfred Wright from Grove Farm, further down the lane in Little Wigborough. He saw what was happening and mounted his motorcycle to go to Mersea to alert the military. Sadly, he never reached there - he collided with a car and was badly injured. He died 7 weeks later and is buried in Little Wigborough church yard.
The site of the wrecked Zeppelin soon became very popular, with large numbers of visitors. The early visitors found it easy to get souvenirs, but the site was soon guarded by the military and later visitors had to content themselves with buying mementoes fashioned from pieces of metal, most of which came from the Zeppelin.
These pieces of duraluminum internal structure from L33 were originally obtained by the world-famous collector Col. G. B. Jarrett in the 1930s and became part of his equally famous Jarrett Museum of the World War History on the Steel Pier, Atlantic City, New Jersey. After World War II, Jarrett began selling off his collection, and these L33 parts were sold to Jarrett's good friend, Robert Boheme in 1956. Ron Cole purchased the Boheme estate in 2022.
Each display is signed and numbered, and measures 13x19-inches.
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