Pyott Letter Home

The four page letter above was written by 2nd Lieutenant Ian Pyott to his mother on Thursday, December 7, 1916, some ten days after he had single-handedly shot-down a German Zeppelin.   

On the night of the 27th of November, 1916, 2nd Lieutenant Ian Pyott flying a BE2c number 2738 attacked and shot-down Zeppelin L34 (LZ.78).  Accounts of this feat often recall that he flew so close that his face was scorched by the exploding aerial wreckage.  Pyott was awarded the D.S.O.  

Pyott, from South Africa, was based with 36 Squadron out of Seaton Carew.  As one account tells it, “At 11.30 p.m. the L34, under Kapitanleutnant Max Dietrich, crossed the coast at Blackhall Rocks and flew over Castle Eden where she was caught in the beam of the Hutton Henry Searchlight.”  Pyott was flying at 9800ft and was above the airship which was heading Southwards and towards him.  “She dropped 13 HE near the searchlight without doing any damage. She was then spotted by 2nd Lieutenant L.V.Pyott flying a Bristol FE2c of 36 Squadron out of Seaton Carew. The L34 headed back out to sea over West Hartlepool where 16 bombs were dropped damaging 40 houses, killing 4 people and injuring 34. 2nd Lieutenant Pyott followed the airship for some 5 miles firing at every opportunity, and after firing 71 rounds he noticed a bright patch on the airship which rapidly spread engulfing the whole machine in flames. Pyott dived rapidly to avoid the flames but suffered burns to his face. The flaming wreckage could be seen for miles -it was even seen by a pilot flying over Melton Mowbray. The L34 fell into the sea off West Hartlepool at 11.50 p.m."

This account is from Pyott's aircraft is seen below as well as Pyott, himself.

The letter below is dated nine years to the day after the end of the war - 11th November 1927.  It is sent to Pyott at The Aero Club of South Africa in Durbin from the Secretary of The Royal Aero Club in London, Harold Perrin.  As John Blake explains in his article "A Brief History of the Royal Aero Club," For most of its life, between 1906 and 1945, it was run by its remarkable Secretary, Commander Harold Perrin, known in the Club as "Harold the Hearty". A brilliant organiser and superb raconteur, he epitomised, fostered and encouraged the Members' natural bent towards enthusiastic, determined and argumentative individuality in the battle against authority to establish the right to freedom in developing Britain's remarkable lead in private - and public - aviation; a lead due very largely to the activities of such members as Geoffrey de Havilland, Sir Alan Cobham and Frank Halford."