Lieutenant William Leefe-Robinson was awarded the Victoria Cross only three days after being the first British airmen to shoot down a German airship over British soil. The infamous ‘Zeppelins’ had been causing havoc in English skis, with thier raids having a physiological effect far beyond any physical damage.
Although four further airships would be shot down in the following months, Leefe-Robinson’s success on 2 September 1916 caught the public’s imagination. Many locals came to refer to the event as ‘Zeppelin Sunday.’
It is my belief that this Victoria Cross has as much to do with propaganda as gallantry. In a recent correspondence with Bret Holman at Airminded, he pointed me towards Joseph Morris’ book The German Air Raids on Britain, 1914-1918 (1925), in which the author implies that Leefe-Robinson’s main achievement was a huge morale boost to the civilian population.
Another political VC?