Tuesday, 4 February 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.

Manchester Guardian, 4 February 1913, 5

The Manchester Guardian has a summary (p. 5, above) of the weekend's airship sightings in South Wales (which is also published in the Derby Daily Telegraph, p. 3). The Guardian repeats the suggestion, made in the Standard and the Globe yesterday, that 'the craft belongs to someone in Devonshire or Somersetshire, and that experimental flights are being made' (p. 5). The admittedly brief notice of where the airships were seen is somewhat at variance with previous reports, however: it says it was seen at Cardiff, when it was seen several miles to the north, and that it was seen at Neath, when people there told to look out for an airship failed to actually see one.

The Guardian's mention of Mumbles is also new, but it would seem to be explained by the report in The Times that the 'constable at Aberavon' who 'observed, at 7.30pm on Sunday night [2 February 1913], an airship going over Swansea Bay and the Mumbles' (p. 6) -- so it's not a new report. However, it also says that 'Several other people declare they observed the outline of an airship carrying a light', presumably at Aberavon. This is confirmed by the Daily Express's report that an airship 'was seen at Port Talbot, near Swansea, about 6.30 p.m. on Sunday by a policeman and several other people' (p. 1). Aberavon is actually the old part of Port Talbot, which is about four miles from Neath, so that may account for the Guardian's confusion. The discrepancies in the time given for the sighting, an hour apart, may be explained by the fact that Constable Church watched the airship for an hour, according to yesterday's Globe.

The Express suggests that the Aberavon airship is 'presumably the same one' seen the following night [2 February 1913] at Greenmeadow (here Tongwynlais)

by two menservants of Colonel Henry Lewis. They watched it for four or five minutes, and noticed a red light at the rear.

(The Times also mentions this sighting, but without providing any new details.) If so, this airship 'could not have reached reached Croydon by 8.45 p.m.' to account for the other airship seen on Sunday. But the Express has evidence of another airship out that night, because the witness wrote in directly to inform it:

Mr. R. Lawrance [sic] Thornton, of High Cross, Framfield, Uckfield, writes to the 'Express' that he saw an airship pass over his house -- which is about eight miles north-east of Lewes -- about 9.25 p.m. on Sunday [2 February 1913].

Which 'is no doubt the airship which [...] was seen over Croydon at 8.45 p.m.'

The Globe reports (p. 3) on more mystery aircraft seen overseas, on the frontier between Austria-Hungary and Russia:

According to the journal 'Slovo Palski' a Russian aeroplane, equipped with a searchlight, was seen manœuvring over Lemberg on Saturday evening [1 February 1913]. At Tarnopol (Galicia) likewise an aeroplane, making signals, was sighted over the town

The Daily Mail carries the same article (p. 5), identifying the source as Reuter. The 'searchlight'/'signals' sound similar to the British phantom airships, though such heavy and bulky equipment would be much harder to take aloft in an aeroplane than an airship.

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