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AVIATOR’S GREAT FEAT, Issue 15702, 16 January 1915
AVIATOR’S GREAT FEAT
THAT WON THE BRITISHERS UNDYING FAME AND HONOR. For the, third time since the war began British aviators have struck terror in German hearts by their daring flights into the enemy’s territory, the latest (not excepting Flight-Lieutenant Hewlett’s fine feat at Guxhavon more recently) exploit being the most daring and successful of the series. From French territory three British aviators penetrated a distance of 120 miles into Germany, and on reaching Friedrichshaven, on the shores of Lake Constance, dropped a. number of bombs over the celebrated Zeppelin factory in that Swiss town. All the bombs reached their objective, and wrought serious damage to the factory. The splendid daring of the aviators will be appreciated when it is mentioned that they were subjected the whole time to thunderous volleys fired by the German garrison beneath. Two of the aviators succeeded in getting away, but the, third (Commander E. F. Briggs), the most experienced and intrepid of the trio, was brought to the jfronnd by the Gorman guns, and made a prisoner. Ha did not, however, surrender without offering desperate, resistance. The story is thus told in official language by the Admiralty : On November 24 a flight of aeroplanes, under the command of Squadron Commander C. F. Briggs, of the Royal Naval Air Service, with Flight-Com-mander J. T. Babington and FlightLieutenant S. V. Sippe, as pilots, flew from French territory to ths Zeppelin airship factory at Friedrichshaven. All three pilots in succession flew down to dose range under a heavy fire, from guns, mitrailleuses, and rifles, and launched their bombs according to instructions. Commander Briggs is reported to have been shot down, wounded, and taken to hospital as a prisoner. Both the other officers have returned to French territory, though their machines were damaged by gunfire. . . . This flight of 250 miles, which penetrated 120 miles into Germany, across mountainous country, in desperate weather, constitutes with the attack a fine feat of arms. It must be remembered that this raid had a perfectly legitimate objective—the destruction of the enemy’s factory or sheds, and that there never has been on the part of 'British aviators any indiscriminate bomb-throwing on either peaceful people or any public buildings. With this necessary explanation let us proceed to supplement the Admiralty's bald statement with —'Some Interesting Details.— The raid started from the, neighborhood of the French frontier, and, as stated in the Gorman reports, the aviators flow up the Rhine to Lake Constance, rising on the way to a. height approximately of 4,000 ft to 5,000 ft. On arriving over Friedrichshaven each in succession dived from 4,000 ft to 400 ft and let go their mobs, just as Flight-Lieutenant's Collett and Marx did at Dussfcldorf. Despite volleys fired by the garrison beneath, the intrepid airmen displayed extraordinary coolness, and aimed with as much deliberation as if there had been no opposition. In the sudden dive- it is impossible for the anti-aircraft .guns to alter ■ the bursting height of their shells as fast as the aviator descends, so that unless they secure a direct hit their shells are harmless. The speed is also so great that it is larg-'y .; nw‘*er of luck whether men with rifles hit the machine or not. Each pilot dropped bombs, at least a dozen of which went into the Zeppelin works, for the idea- was to damage these rather than attempt the destruction of the big shed itself, which is a long and narrow building, and docs not afford such a good mark. Two of the aeroplanes managed to get clear after completing their work, but the third (piloted by Briggs) was —'Crippled by the Gunfire.— the petrol tank being hit. But though himself wounded. Commander Briggs managed to bring his craft down in safety in the grounds around the Zeppelin shed. He wa.s strapped to the seat, and did not attempt to release himself, but when the soldiers and workmen rushed forward he produced his revolver, and emptied its contents in their direction. Even then ho continued to resist capture, and had to be removed from the machine by force, lie soon afterwards became unconscious, but his wounds were not dangerous, consisting of slight injuries to the head. It is related that after Briggs had been overpowered by the soldiers an officer j struck him .across the face with a riding i whip, whereupon he said ; “ Leave, me alone; I only did my dutv.” In the hospital die declared ; " Wait ; tin’s is only the Beginning.” Regarding the shot that brought his down. Commander Briggs remarked that the German artillery practice was " devilish good.” Of course, the Germans deny persistently that any damage was done, just as they denied was the I case at Dusseldorf. but against that there 1 is the direct statement oi our Admiralty | that each bomb reached its objective, and j that serious damage, was done. The- moral effect of the raid, which created an immense- sensation throughout Germany, is certain to he very great. In fact, our aircraft have already caused considerably more panic in Germany than the prospects of a Zeppelin raid to the people of England, —“ Viveni Los Anglais!”—
Great jubilation prevailed .among the French troops on the safe, return of the other two British aviators. At Belfort, the Commandant-general of that fortress held a general parade of his troops in honor of Flight-Commander Babington and Flight-Lieutenant/ Sippe. Thocommandant embraced both aviators, and decorated ■them with the Legion of Honor, while the assembled troops cheered and shouted “ Vi vent !es Anglais !" Later the aviators were banqueted by the, officers of the, garrison The French Government have, also conferred the. Legion of Honor on Com-mand-er Briggs. Heroes of the Raid.— Each of the men who took part in the flight to Friedrichshaven was a picked man. Squadron Commander Featberston Briggs being one of the most experienced pilots of the R.N.F.S. As engineer commander in the Royal Navy. Commander Briggs, woo is only 32, was appointed for engineering duty to the Royal Naval Flying School at Eastchurcb. where, beside? bringing the mechanical side of that establishment to a high state of efficiency, lie soon became one of the best flyers. His flying while there was of a scientific nature, for lie always wont up surrounded with instruments for the measurement of altitude, air speed, engine speed, angles of tilt, and so forth, much to the joy of the unrogenerate pilots who trusted to their eyes and hands. Nevertheless, he flew ns, well as th.i belt of them, and capped it all by putting the British altitude ‘‘icford” up to lo.OCOft last winter, on which occasion he was badly frostbitten and suffered for some lime in consequence. Since the war broke nut he has been flying in France and Belgium, and done much valuable work for the Intelligence Department, besides having had many narrow escapes from rapture. Though he has now fallen into German hands, and is lost to the State for the rest of the war. he has already done enough work to allow him to rest honorably till the war is concluded Flight-Commanded Babington, R.N., Is quite a young pilot. Acrobatics are not encouraged in the British Navy, but when he is at the wheel no one feels the least anxious at seeing a seaplane weighing over a ton and a-half performing antics -worthy
of an exhibition flyer’s single-seater. Flight-Lieutenant Sydney Sippe is only 25, and has already becorn . known as one of the three aviators who were selected to make the Dnsseldcrf raid, where he was shabbily treated by his engine at the very start. The good feeling existing in the R.N.A.S. is shown by his promptly being given the next chance of dangerous service. As test pilot for on? of our biggest aeroplanes he has flown in Germany. Austria France, Italy, and Spain, He is a clever and determined flyer, with a pair of splendid hands, and is a good judge of pace and distance. He was only appointed from civil life to the R.N.A.S. on the outbreak of war.
It is only fair to the British aeroplane industry to say here that the machines used on the field are all of British design and make, being 80 h.p. Gnor.ie-cngined Arrc biplanes, manufactured at Manchester.
The King conferred the D.S.O. on Commander Briggs and on Flight-Lieutenants Babington and Sippe.
AVIATOR’S GREAT FEAT, Issue 15702, 16 January 1915
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