Help needed with an aviation matter (From Chelmsford Weekly News)

WAY back in February 2015 I recounted in these columns, how during the Second World War I had watched a stricken American four engine bomber plunge out of the sky as members of its crew bailed out over the Thames.

The following week Maldon’s eminent historian, Stephen P Nunn, replied in these same columns verifying my account, along with a detailed analysis.

I wonder if Mr Nunn might be able to assist me on another aviation matter I witnessed as a small child.

The year would be 1932/34, when it seemed the sight of an aircraft was more or less a novelty as well as a rarity.

The location, my birthplace, the lovely village of Silchester, noted Roman heritage site of Calleva Atrebatum, which nestles in the beautiful Hampshire countryside.

I was about two or three at the time and outside my home, when suddenly a rumbling like distant thunder broke the tranquillity of the day, building up in volume as it approached.

Above me was a never to be forgotten awe inspiring sight, a huge silver airship, not high in the sky, but quite low, as I could clearly see much detail which I later discovered was engines and gondola etc as the airship cruised sedately past.

Over 40 years later when visiting Silchester, I returned to that same spot, thankfully untouched by time and development, as I believe it still is to this day.

My estimate would be that the airship could have been on a south or south easterly course at the time.

I am now 86 and have often wondered which of the three giant airships of that period I was privileged to view at close quarters as a child on that now far off day.

Could it have been the R100, sister ship to the ill-fated R101. Perhaps the expertise of Stephen P Nunn might be able to throw some light on this aviation enigma?

Alex Jennings

Fernlea Road, Burnham-on-Crouch

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