Friday, 11 April 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.

A prominent headline on the front page of the Daily Express today rather startlingly refers to the 'BOMBARDMENT OF LONDON', a 'NIGHT VISIT FROM A DIRIGIBLE', and a 'WAR LESSON' (p. 1). It turns out that the capital has not been destroyed by a sudden Zeppelin raid; rather, Londoners are promised that tomorrow night an airship will give 'a remarkable [but peaceful] demonstration of the ease with which a great city like the metropolis can be bombarded from the air' (p. 1):

The 'Express' is in a position to state that a powerful dirigible -- the whereabouts of which is at present a strict secret -- will manœuvre over the centre of London between 10 and 11.30 p.m. The dirigible will be equipped with brilliant searchlights, which will be flashed on many of the principal buildings, and will be strong enough to enable the aeronauts to distinguish pedestrians and vehicles in the streets.

This airship will, quite intentionally, be a scareship:

For months past accounts have been received from all parts of the United Kingdom recording the presence of mystery airships with lights attached. The reports came from places as far apart as Cardiff and Hull, Chester and Sheerness. Now, for the first time, if weather conditions permit, the people of London will be able to realise the terrifying possibilities if a foreign airship were cruising overhead, and raining explosives along its course.

The plan is for the airship to 'make a circuit of the centre and West End of London'. A 'special representative' from the Express will be aboard to record 'every incident and impression of what will be one of the most striking proofs of the part which can be played by aircraft in nocturnal warfare'.

The Yeovil Western Gazette, a weekly newspaper, has a report of the Lunéville incident, which copies the widely-published Reuters cable noting the previous rumours of 'the mysterious flight of airships over the Eastern frontier' of France (p. 8).

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