Tuesday, 21 January 1913

This post is part of a series post-blogging the phantom airship scare of 1913. See here for an introduction to the series, and here for a conclusion.

Standard, 21 January 1913, p. 9

Press coverage of the phantom airships has so far been somewhat scattershot, with articles in only two or three newspapers on any given day. Today, however, at least eight newspapers report on an airship seen at Cardiff, five of them London dailies (all politically conservative, as it happens) -- though admittedly it is not given much attention. The Daily Express (p. 5), Liverpool Echo (p. 5), Manchester Courier (p. 7) and The Times (p. 10) have only a short paragraph or two, while the Globe and Traveller (p. 6), Daily Mail (p. 9) and the Dundee Evening Telegraph and Post (p. 4) provide a bit more information. The longest account is in the Standard (p. 9, above).

The reason for the interest appears to be the quality of the witness, Captain Lionel Lindsay, the Chief Constable of Glamorganshire and hence the senior policeman for the area of South Wales bounded more or less by Cardiff, Swansea and Merthyr (he most recently attracted national attention for his role in the Tonypandy Riots). In his own words (said 'in an interview', according to the Standard):

At a quarter to five on Friday [17 January 1913] evening last I noted the object in the air. It was then dusk and rather foggy, so that one could not define it. It was much bigger and moved faster than the Willows airship, and it left in its trail a dense volume of smoke. I called the attention of a bystander to the object, and he agreed with me that it was some large aircraft. It disappeared quickly, thus giving evidence of speedy movement, and it was taking a direction as if making for Swansea. I have failed to meet with anyone else who saw it, and am anxious to solve what appears to me something like a mystery.

Compared with the previous scareship reports, the smoke trail is a novel feature, and this one seems unusually fast too. For some reason most of the newspapers insist that Lindsay was 'the sole witness', but by his account there was at least one other (though perhaps he cannot be found now). Some add that he has 'notified the public that he will be obliged if [other] observers [...] will communicate with him' (Daily Mail, p. 9) 'at the constabulary office' (Evening Telegraph, p. 4), which could mean that he is making the mystery airship the official business of the Glamorganshire Constabulary. The Evening Telegraph hints that there might be more sightings from the Cardiff area, saying that 'It is reported on reputable authority [presumably Lindsay's] that a mysterious airship is making periodical visits to Glamorgan'. But the Standard, the only paper to explicitly mention other scareship sightings, mentions only the Dover and Bristol Channel ones. As Dinas Powis is also in Glamorganshire, perhaps that explains the 'periodical', though not the certainty of the 'reputable authority'.

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