My Winnipeg uncle, Alg Purchase, followed my parents to their Pilot Mound. Manitoba farm,in 1915, worked about on farms
($10 a month and "all found"- a bunk in the barn!)- and put himself through Manitoba Agricultural College. He went overseas
with the University Battalion, served in France, and volunteered for the new Royal Naval Flying Corps. Here is his blimp flying
anti-submarine patrols off the British Coast in 1918. It had a baulky 75 hp engine, with magnetos which gave endless trouble-
sometimes "coaxed" with a wooden mallet- it worked! They carried two 110 lb bombs- or one 250 lb one. His SSZ37 left
the airport in Southern Wales, one day in a strong east wind that just about stopped any progress. While hovering over Milford
Haven, the local admiral sent them an urgent message: "Why are you hovering over Milford Haven?" The Lewis gunner, who was
also the radio operator, passed the message to my Uncle Alg for reply. He wrote one word on the paper: "WIND!" So it was
with the early airships!
And here is the type of car used, for three- sometimes four- crew. It was made of ash and aluminum, designed to float if it
came down on water, which it did on Mumbles, near Swansea, Wales. The blimp was deflated, but the crew were OK. (That is my
uncle Alg, standing, aft, in the lower photo.
My lone experience with airships was at the Brandon Fair, when I was a teenager. They featured a captive balloon with a daily
parachute jump, and were looking for local volunteers. I offered my services, but was shouldered aside by a bigger and bolder
kid. On his first jump, he landed in the duck pond and broke a leg. After that no more "kids" were allowed! He probably
saved my life!
Other military happenings listed here:
More pioneer farming!
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