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June 25, 2014

LEST WE FORGET are three words that stir us all as the hundredth anniversary of the start of World War One approaches.
The centenary is on August 4, the date this country entered the ‘War to end all Wars’ against Germany, and the nation is being asked to switch out the lights to remember the millions killed.
Robinson_death_pennyHavering Council is joining the countrywide ‘Lights Out’ tribute by asking every household to turn off all the lights from 10pm for an hour leaving a single candle burning as an act of remembrance of those who died for us.
July 26 1914 was the beginning of the great war that ended in an Allied victory on November 11, 1918, and after some years of nervous peace, broke out again with the start of World War Two on September 1, 1939, ending in victory in the European theatre on July 26, 1945.
The debt we owe the fallen in both conflagrations can never be repaid. (above. The Death Penny to those who died)  It touched every family in the land and by this simple act, we can pay a personal tribute by remembering them with one burning candle.
Another tribute by historian Richard Smith is being held this Sunday June 29 at 2pm in the Squadrons Approach car park to Hornchurch Country Park, formally RAF Hornchurch, a Battle of Britain airfield in 1940.
Titled ‘From Zeppelins to Spitfires, Richard’s talk will reflect the nationwide events and Hornchurch’s role in both wars. For information email: and Lights Out:
Untitled-1Another moving tribute is being paid by our own Queen’s Theatre in Billet Lane.
This year’s Queen’s Community Musical is ‘Paper Planes’, with a cast of 60 local actors of all ages, it is a tribute to a young Royal Flying Corp officer, flying from Suttons Farm, who was first to shoot down a German Airship on a bombing run over London.
Gareth and wWilliam Leefe Robinson made history and was awarded the Victoria Cross for bringing down airship LS11 on the night of September 2 1916 which dramatically exploded killing all 15 crew members in a pyrotechnic display watched by thousands of terrified Londoners.
Written by Dave Ross, Gerry Sweeney, Patrick O’Sullivan with music by Dave Ross and Steve Markwick, and choreography by Liz Marsh, (above: Romarni Brytz and Gareth Withers)the exciting musical will run at the Billet Lane Theatre from Wednesday July 30 with five performances running to Saturday August 2.

SUTTONS Farm airfield was as its name implies, a farm before 1915, then the men from the ministry turned the flat acreage into the No 39 Home Defence Unit, the ninth aerodrome for the perimeter of London, in answer to the ‘Zepplin’ menace. (above. Young actors playing out a cameo representing the waste of life in the WW1 battlefields)
Though called Zeppelins by the populace, the airships were in fact mostly Scutte-Lanz (SL) airships, but whatever they were called, they were damn difficult to hit and bring down.
The land was owned by New College, Oxford and farmed by local man, Tom Crauford.
‘Officially’ opened in October, 1915, the two BE2c aircraft, were housed in two canvas hangers after the flat runway had been closely mown to allow the planes to take off.
At first the pilots were put up in the White Hart and other ranks in farms or bell tents on Suttons Farm.
It was not until April 1916 that wooden prefabricated hangers and aircraft packing cases sprung up as offices and other accommodation.
Due to the closeness of London, and the airship bombing taking place at night, the pilots soon had to learn to fly at night and a flare path of cans stuffed with petrol soaked cotton waste went some way to bringing them home again.
At the same time the complement of aircraft grew to six forming No 39 Squadron.
The airships were 200m long and capable of flying at 70mph up to 13,000 while carrying five tonnes of bombs and 10 machine guns and a hydrogen gas capacity of 22,500 m3 (794,500 cu ft) to 31,900 m3 (1,126,000 cu ft).
Against these leviathans, the British Pilots had an underpowered aircraft with only a 20mph top speed and a ceiling of 12,000 feet. the British pilots also ran the risk of being hit by the over zealous anti aircraft guns dotted round the capital, but also being swept with fire by a burning airship.
The terror from sky

Tickets available from the box office on 01708 443333



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