The Turner Novels -

The Aviators

William Leefe-Robinson V.C.

William Leefe-Robinson was born in India in 1895. Commissioned in the Worcestershire Regiment he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps where he was posted to 39 Squadron on Home Defence duties.

On the night of the 2/3rd September 1916 while flying at over 11,000 ft he found and destroyed airship SL11 that fell in a field near the village of Cuffley in Hertfordshire. This exploit features in “Turner’s Defense”. SL 11 was not strictly speaking a Zeppelin, though the local football (soccer) team has had the nickname “The Zeps” ever since. Though of a similar size to the Zeppelins taking part in the mass raid on London that night, she was a wooden framed Schutte Lanz army airship.

Leefe–Robinson went on to serve in France where he was shot down early in 1917 flying a new Bristol Fighter. He was wounded and captured, but made repeated attempts to escape, for which he was punished. Sadly he died on the 31st. December 1918, soon after repatriation, in the great flu pandemic that swept the world, probably weakened by his treatment as a prisoner of war. A memorial to him stands to this day near “The Plough” public house in the Ridgeway, Cuffley, Hertfordshire, UK.


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