Posted 16 November 2004 - 08:32 AM
The commander of the L15 was Kapitanleutnant Joachim Breithaupt. On the 31st March 1916 (note date!), at 21.45 hours, the L15 received a direct hit from the AA gun at Purfleet, Essex.
The AA shell damaged four of the gas cells (numbers 9, 11, 12, and 16), and the L15 began to lose height - despite the crew chucking out everything, to lose weight.
While the L15 got closer to earth, it was attacked by 2Lt Alfred de Bathe Brandon RFC, 19 RA Sqn (Hainault Farm), in a BE 2C. Brandon climbed above the L15 and tried to destroy it by dropping incendiary bombs, and Ranken darts onto the top of the hull. He was not succesful.
But eventually the Zeppelin became too heavy to fly, and she came down in the sea off Margate at 00.15 (1st April) - close to the Kentish Knock lightship. One crew member, ObsigMt Willy Albrecht, was drowned. The rest of the crew (16 members in total) were rescued by the armed trawler Olivine (and then transferred to HMS Vulture).
The sodden, half-sunk remains of the L15 were then taken under tow but the airship broke up off Westgate and only small sections were hauled ashore, where parts were obviously liberated by souvenir hunters. Eventually the sea reclaimed what was left of the airship on the beach.
Please be so kind as to ask the owner to get in touch with me. I would very much like a photo of this small piece of Zeppelin history.