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Remembered Today:

Christpher Galpin - Zeppelin victor?


Adrian Roberts
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There was an obituary recently in the Daily Telegraph of a well-known Judge, Brian Galpin. It includes this information about his father:

Brian's father, Christopher, who served with the Royal Naval Air Service and later the fledgling RAF, had been awarded a DSO in 1917 for shooting down a Zeppelin that had been plaguing London, and in 1919 had commanded the Scandinavian Flight, crossing the North Sea for the first time in a flying boat. He subsequently rose to be Deputy Director of Civil Aviation at the Air Ministry.

As far as I can tell, the Zeppelin concerned must have been L43, brought down in July 1917. Can anyone confirm this?

BTW, Brian Galpin was a Bomber Navigator in WW2.

Adrian

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Adrian

L43 was brought down by FSLs Basil Hobbs and R F L Dickey in Curtiss H12 8677, with wireless operator H M Davies and engineer A W Goody, on 14 June 1917.

Flt Lt Christopher Galpin was involved in a number of sorties against raiding German airships, the best known being perhaps that on 26 July 1917 when, with FSL Robert Leckie, flying in H12 8660 from RNAS Great Yarmouth, with Leading Mechanic Thompson and Air Mechanic A Grant, had an encounter with L46, forcing Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Hollender to abort his mission.

Flt Lt Galpin's DSO was Gazetted on 22 June 1917.

There's more in Ray Rimmel's Zeppelin! and C F Snowdon Gamble's The Story of a North Sea Air Station.

I hope that this helps.

Gareth

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Gareth

Some errors must have seeped in somewhere, particularly in the Telegraph account.

Galpin's DSO was gazetted before the L46 incident, but only a week after the L43 incident so even if he had been involved in the latter the DSO would not have been gazetted that quickly, I would have thought.

My guess about the L43 came from the Wikipedia List of Zeppelins; the date is the same but it says it was brought down by "fighters". I can't identify any other incident in this source that matches the above description. It says that L22 was "brought down by British fighters over Terschelling on 14/5/17" - but I have also read that Leckie in H12 8666 (source said N8666?) was responsible for this. Was Galpin flying with Leckie on that occassion?

Adrian

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Adrian

Flt Lt C J Galpin and FSL Leckie were the pilots of Curtiss H.12 8666 (the serial N8666 wasn't allocated) on anti-airship operations on a number of occasions, including 17 and 24 May and 5 June 1917.

On 17 May Leckie flew the aeroplane while Galpin operated the twin Lewis guns in the aeroplane's bows, bringing down L22. This must have been the exploit that resulted in Galpin being awarded the DSO. On 24 May 8666 came across L40 over the North Sea and certainly gave the crew something of a scare. On 5 June, L40 was met again and attacked, but without success. Interestingly, the captain of L40, Kapitänleutnant Erich Sommerfeldt, identified the attacking aeroplane as 'a biplane resembling Nieuport type'.

Regards

Gareth

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Adrian

Flt. Lt. Galpin and Flt Sub-Lt. Leckie shot down L-22 whilst flying a H12 Curtis type Flying Boat No 8666 on 14 May 1917.

The following is taken from TNA file relating to the destruction of L-22 and lists the consequent awards:

25th May 17

Sir

With reference to your letter of the 15th instant, No 412/136, forwarding a report of the destruction of Zeppelin L 22 on the 14th instant, I am commanded by my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to acquaint you that the King has been pleased to award the following honours to the officers and men concerned:-

To be appointed a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order:-

Flight Lieutenant C. J. Galpin, R. N. A. S.

To receive the Distinguished Service Cross:-

Flight Sub-Lieutenant R. Leckie, R. N. A. S.

To receive the Distinguished Service Medal:-

Chief Petty Officer V. Whatling

Air Mechanic J. R. Laycock

2. These honours will be gazetted but particulars of the service will not be mentioned.

I am,

Sir,

Your obedient Servant,

The Commodore in Charge

LOWESTOFT

Regards

Mark

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Gareth and Mark

Thanks - that's helped to fill in some gaps.

The Curtis H12 seems to have been used quite successfully in anti-Zeppelin operations, but I suppose it was the only type with the range for long patrols over the North Sea.

Is there any record of an airship actually returning fire on an attacking aeroplane, let alone shooting one down? Did this happen in any of the incidents above? Were they in daylight or at night? (would have been more difficult at night).

The only example I know of is from Warneford's account of his successful attack on LZ37, when he wrote of the "airship opening up Maxim fire"

Adrian

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