No. 190

OSB Logo The Old St Beghian
  January 2017


William Leefe Robinson Commemoration


On the evening of Friday 9th September 2016
a service of commemoration was held in the school Chapel
to mark an important anniversary.

William Leefe Robinson, who was educated at St Bees School, was the first pilot to shoot down a German airship over Britain during the First World War, on the night of 2/3 Sept 1916. For this he was awarded the Victoria Cross just two days later.

He was the first person to be awarded the VC for action in the UK, and it was the first VC of the Royal Flying Corps, the forerunner of the RAF.

His amazing feat of bravery: he was flying at night, in an open cockpit, without instruments, at about ten thousand feet in a craft not designed to go that high, running short of fuel and having to rearm manually while controlling the plane with his knees, was a turning point in repelling the airship menace in WW1, and was the birth of aerial night fighting.

A commemoration of the short life of this modest and undeniably heroic man in words and music was held in the school Chapel, where his VC is recorded, on the hundredth anniversary of the award of the medal by the King and included a detailed account of the action and its significance for aerial combat and the morale of the nation.

The service was extremely well attended despite appalling weather conditions, with many people from the local area and a good number of OSBs, several of whom had travelled a considerable distance, being present.

(See also the artwork of the aviation artist Michael Farrier by clicking here.

Mr Farrier can be contacted on or mobile 07790 769709.)




The St Beghian Society    
St Bees School,    St Bees,    Cumbria,    CA27 0DS

Tel: (01946) 828093     
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