Chapter 2 – Doing Ones Bit

Doing Ones Bit

Somewhat frustrating for those keen young girls wanting to go to the war zone to be near enough to the firing line too tend the poor shattered bodies of the many bloody wounded soldiers. Many thousand of wounded or dying men packed in the many field hospitals. Rather close to the firing line f dug outs maze of trenches.

Many Young girls that were willing but unable to give their tender womanly nursing help to our soldiers. Born at wrong time in history but with the youth of innocence wanting to do their bit, for king country or their brothers or fathers that served in the BEF. Only there were other ways to aid the war effort choice became the need to do their bit for king country Family sweetheart or serving soldier brother Choice became War work in the factories on the production line and not the front line making artillery shells.  Among those many girls working on production a certain flaxen fair headed young girl. Carrying the seeds of future life to come in a youthful body. The newness of this change of a woman’s roll from house maid servant to one of value it would change forever the way women were considered in those days of dominant chauvinistic moustachioed men who made lackey of women as obedient tools of just work or delight.

The nights were long working on the production line making shells in the shell factory. Hungry food for our guns of the BEF on the killing fields of France. One night the warning went, All hell broke loose in a new kind of warfare of propelled silver objects  etched against the dark night sky eerie lit up by probing searchlights stabbing like gods fingers to find this monster that so terrified those girls  youngsters in body that held our life of we yet to be born. The shear panic of these young girls all dressed in clothes caps and long pinafore attire. Running for the shelter then, overhead the drone of a Zeppelin.

A big silver sausage but not edible in the sky now well lit up by the searchlights of the ground defence force.  The black cross of the Hun, painted on the side. All menacing! Even the symbol was enough even to frighten the shit out of these young girls. IT was not long before our own aircraft were up trying to find this big droning monster silver sausage shaped thing. Some of these droning monsters were shot down… but this one got away.  The panic over, the talk for many a day was about the Zeppelin raid. And every one saying how lucky they were not to have been killed.

The whole history of the air ship is an interesting one. Historical documentation is well known. Zeppelins could travel a great distance, and did achieve up to 250 miles in eleven hours.  And the name became attached to the craft, from the name of the German, Count Von Zeppelin. Who experimented with making an air ship and his first ship flew in the air at around the 19OO. And with the encouragement of the German government, with their construction for military use in mind – at the outbreak of the First World War Germany had something in the order of twenty-five in its fleet of airships, and increased this to around eighty-eight. These craft were made of a framework of girders running the length of the ship and rings of girders at intervals. Made of constructed angled aluminium frames contained of around about sixteen compartments made the bays to hold the gasbags filled with hydrogen. Driven by eight engines each driving a propeller.  These were attached to the so-called cars. Slung out from the craft like little motorbike cycle sidecars. With girders holding them out from ship. At the front, centre and rear of the keel.

The quarters for the crew, storage and petrol were inside the main framework, towards the nose of the underside of the ship. The main controls were in the front gondola. On top of the airship, several guns were mounted fore and aft. For the defence against hostile aircraft,  Airship carried out a number of raids over France, and Britain. Although in the end these ships of the air proved a disappointment, their slow speed and huge bulk, and the easy target for the aeroplane of that period. Led to the raids by airships. To peter out after the year nineteen seventeen. Also the forcing down the then L.33 earlier in nineteen sixteen Almost completely intact. The design was then copied and used to build the R34, which made the memorable trip across the Atlantic to Long Island in the United States. And was one of the most flown airships of the British.

But alas this ship came to grief in an accident, in the North Sea, and was wrecked.

The year nineteen thirty-one. Tragic though it was, the British R.101 crashed at Bovaies in France. The year being OCT 1930; The R.38 built by the British for the Yanks; broke her back over the Humber. Forty-five totals lives being lost. The Hindenburg, which was unlucky to be destroyed by fire at Lakehurst.

A real catastrophe this turned out to be, and being witnessed by crowds of onlookers. Crowds welcoming the tying up and landing in New Jersey May 6th 1937.  Newspapermen, Newsreel cameramen of those day’s they were helpless and shocked to do anything to help those on board. Some on board whom jumped were struck by the falling mass of girders and flaming fabric. The ship exploded into a ball of flame.

The Americans air ships the Shenandoah, broke her back, and crashed in a thunderstorm in 1925. The Akron lost at sea 1933. The Macon was also lost at sea in year 1935 the lives lost in these crashes totalled 90.  And the Rigid Airship, the gasbag as it was known finely abandoned by the British 1930.  Also the Germans discontinued after the loss of the Hindenburg 1937. Although the Americans continued, very successfully to build non rigid craft, after their losses. Flying over 4,000,000 miles without mishap during The Second World War. US Navy had in service some 150 airships in the campaign against German subs operating in American waters. The use of Helium – the story behind the success, being the use of this gas helium instead of the lightest of the elements the gas hydrogen. Fed into in bags in the rigid frame of the airship.  Hence its name RIGID. The earlier inventors used the non-rigid, like blowing up a balloon and keeping it under slight pressure.

1 thought on “Chapter 2 – Doing Ones Bit”

  1. Could any one give me a contact number or information address etc as requested by old colleagues if vic is still with us as lost contact when he moved approx 5 years ago in Carr Leon Dale Williams on behalf of Roy Courtney jones powerplant llanwern contact 07811921418

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