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Towing trials with PL 61 in the English Chanell
TheSSZ.37 flew 675 hours looking for enemy submarines.

Alg Purchase in World War 1 uniform.
He served in France, then joined the Naval Flying Service

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!


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