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Forces War Records Blog


William Leefe Robinson, who was educated at St Bees School, was the first pilot to shoot down a German airship over Britain during the First World War, on the night of 2/3 Sept 1916. For this he was awarded the Victoria Cross just two days later.

Gazette Info:  Lieutenant William Leefe Robinson, Worcestershire Regiment and Royal Flying Corps. On the night of 2nd/3rd September 1916 over Cuffley, Hertfordshire, Lieutenant Robinson sighted a German airship – one of 16 which had left bases in Germany on a mass raid over England. The Lieutenant made an attack at a height of 11,500 ft. approaching from below and closing to within 500 ft., raked the aircraft (a wooden-framed Schutte Lanz) with gunfire. As he was preparing for another attack, the airship burst into flames and crashed in a field.

He was the first person to be awarded the VC for action in the UK, and it was the first VC of the Royal Flying Corps; the forerunner of the RAF.
His amazing feat of bravery was a turning point in repelling the airship menace in WW1, and was the birth of aerial night fighting.
This commemoration of his short life in words and music will be in the School Chapel where his VC is recorded, and will include a detailed account of the action and its significance for aerial combat and the morale of the nation.

All welcome. Free admission

DATE: Friday 9th September
TIME: 19.30 – 20.30

St Bees School
St bees, Cumbria, CA27 ODS



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