Frisson or Fright?


Although Cobham and Hatchford seemed like a backwater and the enemy was far away from everyday life, things changed for a short period on the evening of October 16 1914.

The general talk was of Zeppelin raids, but not in this area remote from the heart of things.

It was 9.00 in the evening and in the darkness searchlights were flashing in the sky onto the farm below at Hatchford Park.

The occupants of Hatchford Park were Sir Henry Samuelson and his wife, but also several Belgian refugees that they had taken into their home.

A balloon descended just skimming the tree tops.

The occupants of the balloon heard excited, frightened Belgian voices.

But one wonders who was the most surprised: the occupants of the balloon landing, being surrounded by Belgians and only hearing Flemish voices in the dark must have had doubts as to where they were. Or the Belgians thinking they were being invaded by Germans?

Who scared who the most?

Luckily the Samuelsons were at home.

Sir Henry soon ascertained that the balloon occupants were members of the Royal Navy Corps who had ascended to observe whether the lights in London were sufficiently obscured. After examining their papers, the RNC chaps were invited into the house before being sent back to London.

It certainly gave the residents of Hatchford and Cobham plenty to talk about.


References: Cobham Parish Magazine, November 1914 and February 1915

With thanks to earlier research by Anne Capel.





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