Letter: Does anyone recall airship phenomenon?

Anyone else recall the visit by the Graf Zeppelin to Scarborough 1939?
Anyone else recall the visit by the Graf Zeppelin to Scarborough 1939?

As an Old Scarborian, I hope that readers would be interested in my attached report of an incident which occurred in the town, the second Monday after Easter, 1939.

I am an Old Scarborian, having attended the High School for Boys, from 1935-1938, when I left to attend college in Harrogate.

Anyone else recall the visit by the Graf Zeppelin to Scarborough 1939?

I remember the day well, because it was the last day of my Easter half-term holiday, before returning to college the next day - the second Tuesday after Easter.

It had been a fine and sunny Easter, and this day was also sunny. The town was very busy, with quite a lot of visitors also enjoying the fine weather.

It was early afternoon, and I was standing outside the Barclay’s bank building, opposite the famous chemist’s clock (long gone, now Lloyds Bank).

Suddenly aware of approaching noisy engines, I looked to the right and saw this large dirigible approaching down the length of St Nicholas Street. Not completely in the street itself, but below the highest points.

What a sight to behold! My only previous impressions of airships were of the bulbous-shaped ones - as of the First World War, and more recent world travelling Graf Zeppelin, and Hindenburg, earlier in the 1930s.

However, this model was straight and slender. Painted bright white, with the name down most of the length - Graf Zeppelin in bold universal Gothic script, notably with the swastika painted red on the tailplanes.

The craft came to rest at Boot’s corner, so that I could get a good look at the captain and crew of two with him.

There was no gondola (as usual with Zeppelin craft) but these three were housed in a nose cabin.

They were wearing blue naval-type uniforms with peaked caps. Rather foolishly, I waved and smiled to them - but got no response.

After several minutes, they eventually moved again. Sharp right - down Eastborough and the harbour.

They then left the town, chugging round the castle headland, and that was the last we saw of it. It must be noted that at no point did the vessel extend above the top of castle headland - as one of the World War One airships would have done.

About three years ago, I saw a TV clip, which stated that the Reich had used some old World War One Zeppelins to reconnoitre the new masts along the east and south coasts. There is no doubt that this new one was performing that task.

It was certainly not of World War One vintage though. Our local masts were erected in 1936, and we were told at first that they projected special rays - which stopped the engines of intruding aircraft.

John Robinson

Meadow Drive

East Ayton