Germany sent Zeppelins to bomb Great Britain a total of 52 times during World War I.
One of these bombing raids occurred on the night of September 23, 1916. It involved 12 Zeppelins — eight aiming for the Midlands, four aiming specifically for London.
One of the London-bound Zeppelins, L33, was damaged by anti-aircraft fire while dropping bombs over the East End. It came down intact in Little Wigborough, about 60 miles east of London, in the wee hours of September 24.
The Germans on board were uninjured by the landing, so they set the airship on fire and tried to escape. (They were the only armed Germans to set foot in England during WWI, apparently.) They were soon caught and imprisoned.
News of the wreckage spread quickly. Right around the time the L33 was set alight, Mr. and Mrs. Clark of Great Wigborough (one village over from Little Wigborough) welcomed a baby girl. The doctor who delivered her suggested she be named Zeppelina to mark the occasion, and the Clarks agreed.
Zeppelina Clark went on to live a long life, marrying a man named Williams and passing away in the early 2000s. Today, in St. Nicholas’s Church in Little Wigborough, there’s a memorial plaque that reads:
In memory of
(L33 Little Wigborough 24 September 1916)
- ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 878
- The First Blitz: Britain’s 1915 terror attack
- King, Tom. “Essex on the frontline of war.” Daily Echo 28 Aug. 2008.
- Rimell, Ray. Zeppelin!: a battle for air supremacy in World War I. London: Conway Maritime Press, 1984.
- Two Zeppelins on a bombing mission brough down in Essex
Image by Nationaal Archief Nederlands from Wikipedia