Airships over London – in war and peace

Flickering Lamps

Many people walking past the wall of St Bartholomew’s Hospital on West Smithfield, close to the memorial to William Wallace, stop to look at a series of craters and marks on the wall that look as though they were caused by an explosion of some sort.  It’s easy enough to assume that this damage was caused by a German bomb dropped during the Blitz, but in fact the damage to the wall is older than that.  This damage was caused by one of the very first air raids on London, a terrifying Zeppelin raid in 1915.


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Florence and the zeppelin

Writer's notebook


Florence Parrott was the first person I ever interviewed as a junior reporter. I was 18, the same age as she was when she joined the Royal Flying Corps in 1918.

I had been a reporter for about two weeks when I was sent to talk to Florence, who was then 79, and partially deaf (you’ll have to speak up, DEAR!). She was tall, rangy, ready to laugh, with great booming ho, ho ho’s, and she told her story with a sort of matter of fact understatement that I, as a teenager, just nodded at and wrote down, and now as a mother and grandmother, think of with rather greater imagination.

In 1917, the teenage Florence Maple was a wine waitress at London’s Liverpool Street Hotel, and part of her job was to go next door to the railway station to give lunch boxes to troops departing for the front.


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