Who's Who - William Leefe-Robinson
Lieutenant William Leefe-Robinson (1895-1918) was only the fifth recipient of the Victoria Cross to receive the medal for action in (or, in his case, over) England.
Leefe-Robinson's VC was awarded within three days of his success in being the first to shoot down - as a member of the RFC No. 39 Home Defence Squadron - a German airship (a Schutte-Lanz) over England, a feat he achieved on the night of 2 September 1916 above Hertfordshire (some two hours after having taken off from Suttons Farm in Essex with fellow airmen).
Although a further four such airships were also brought down later that year, Leefe-Robinson's initial success was greeted with jubilation by press and public alike, the first demonstration that German airships were not in fact invincible. Relieved local residents termed Leefe-Robinson's success "Zeppelin Sunday".
Leefe-Robinson himself barely survived the Armistice signalling the end of the war. Shot down, wounded and captured while flying a Bristol fighter in France in April 1917 (although he subsequently mounted several escape attempts), he died on the last day of 1918 at Stanmore from the effects of the influenza pandemic at that time spreading around the globe.
A memorial to Leefe-Robinson was erected in East Ridgeway in 1986.
Shrapnel comprised steel balls ejected from shells upon detonation.
- Did you know?