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Remembered Today:

French airship over Conflans


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Hello again War in the Air Forum.

Anyone know anything about this? It's a German postcard, with a description on the back (unfortunately cut down). It's a spectacular image, but is it real? The airship looks like it has a suspended gondola - did the French really fly such a craft into a battle zone? Any comments welcomed.


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Excellent references - thanks very much! So there were five French airships,

ces dirigeables réalisent des vols nocturnes de préférence par pleine lune aussi longtemps que l'artillerie anti-aérienne est inefficace.

Which flew at night to avoid anti aircraft fire.....

A leur reprise d'activité en avril 1915, leur mission est exclusivement le bombardement nocturne pour lequel on utilise des obus normaux puis des obus empennés.

And were used in bombing raids. And they were withdrawn to sea-service end 1916 because anti aircraft fire and 'the progress of aviation' made them too vulnerable. You certainly get a sense of that from the photograph.

Can anyone make any sense of the Conflans Bahnhof story on the back of the card? The Conflans being attacked is on the road to Metz, so you can deduce that it's the Verdun based airship 'Fleurus' in the picture. Blimey - this is going well!

Sister ship Adjudant Vincenot

http://perso.orange.fr/grande.guerre/avril16.html and search "Conflans" brings up references to bombardment of the railway station and dirigeables, so the date is most likely 1916.


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Das Französische Luftschiff auf seiner ersten Fahrt nach Conflans über Bahnstrecke Conflans-Metz, wobei durch Volltreffer 80m Gleis zerstört wurden und auf Bhf. Conflans verschiedene Güterwagen leicht beschädigt wurden. In der Nacht vom 25./26. April 191?

French airship on its first flight to Conflans over Conflans-Metz railway during which 80m of track were destroyed by a direct hit and several goods wagons were slightly damaged at Conflans station. During the night of 25/26 April 191?


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Mercredi 26 avril

Au nord de l'Aisne (la Ville-aux-Bois), nous avons enlevé un petit bois au sud du bois des Buttes.

En Argonne, notre artillerie lourde a détruit un petit poste et bouleversé des tranchées.

Trois attaques successives des Allemands sur le Mort-Homme et une quatrième dans le secteur d'Avocourt, ont échoué.

Bombardement violent du secteur de Moulainville, en Woëvre.

Une de nos pièces à longue portée bombarde la gare d'Heudicourt.

En Lorraine, une forte attaque allemande sur notre saillant de la Chapelotte a complètement échoué. Des fractions ennemies qui avaient pris pied dans la partie nord-est du saillant ont été en partie anéanties. Nous avons fait vingt-cinq prisonniers dont un officier.

Un taube a été détruit près de Vauquois, un autre sur la côte du Poivre, un troisième dans les bois des Forges; un fokker, près d'Hatton-Châtel. Nos avions ont bombardé la gare de Conflans. *

Des zeppelins ont survolé les côtes d'Angleterre; le résultat de ce raid est nul.

(*) Our planes bombed the railway station at Conflans.

So german sources and French ones agree.

The French report speaks of planes but we can guess they would not want to give any interesting detail.

Therefore the postcard is right.

Is the picture also ? I wonder if it was technically possible to take at that time a correct picture at night with a moving target.

The same night zeppelins were over England. A "good" night for dirigeable bombing then.

Kind regards


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Interesting if the airship is the 'Fleurus' as it was named after the first battle in which an aircraft took part, this being the balloon ‘L’Entreprenant’ used on June 26th 1794 as an airborne command post. The enemy in that battle were German as well.

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So, it was a Wednesday night, that's strangely nice to know!

Looking back further on that site:-

6th March: Un de nos avions a bombardé la gare de Conflans, en Lorraine.

4th April: Nos escadrilles ont opéré sur la gare de Conflans

Hence it is likely that searchlights and anti-aircraft (airship) weapons would have been set up by the Germans around this station.

I have a photo somewhere of an aeroplane caught in a searchlight from WW1. I'll dig it out and post it.


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