A thrilling true story of when a German Zeppelin flew over Coquet Island during the First World War has been retold in a short film.
As part of Amble Town Council’s project to commemorate the war, young people from AmbleGPX project worked with professional filmmakers to record the tale of Helen Scott, nee Whitchurch, whose father was the island’s lighthouse keeper at the time.
The three-minute film documents the extraordinary events which took place over Coquet Island during the night of March 13, 1918.
The young people interviewed Helen’s son, retired journalist John Scott, and filmed him recounting the dramatic story as told to him by his mother, who was a teenager at the time of the incident.
In the video, John, who lives in Yorkshire, says: “My mother got the biggest fright of her life. Her father was walking out in the dark one night and she went out to join him for a walk around the island.
“They heard a noise, like a motorbike engine up in the sky. My grandfather recognised it immediately. He said get down, keep quiet and don’t move whatever you do. Then, out of the darkness,up above them came a German Zeppelin.
“It got closer and closer until it was on top of the lighthouse. The engine stopped. My mother and her father were really worried then. The next thing that happened was that they could see a basket coming down out of the sky on a rope. There was a man inside it and they heard voices speaking in German.
“My mother and her father kept very quiet, they were terrified, but eventually the basket went up, the Zeppelin’s engines started again, and it headed off down the coast.
“They believed it was heading for Hartlepool, because Hartlepool was very badly bombed that night. They think it had lost its way and the Germans had put the man down in the basket to see what the island was and identify the lighthouse and then headed off on the bombing mission.”
John said his mother was 17 when she moved from Wales to Amble in 1917 and she was astonished to find that she was going to have to live on an island with her brother and parents.
He says that she was always telling him stories of things that had happened on the island, but it was the Zeppelin story which caught his imagination.
As part of the project, an Amble First World War trail is available. Sign in here. The Zeppelin video can also be viewed at the website by clicking on the tag on Coquet Island.