War at Sea

  • 1st December 2011 − 14th October 2012 | Scottish National Portrait Gallery

East Fortune

In 1918 Lavery revisited the Forth where the 6th American Battle Squadron lay at anchor and Rosyth bustled with activity. These great battleships had for the most part been a deterrent to the enemy, rather than an active weapon of war. The airship station at East Fortune in East Lothian was established in September 1915 to protect shipping on the east coast. By the end of the war it was the largest military aerodrome in Scotland.

Two sheds, each 320 feet in length and 120 feet in height, were built to house the Coastal Class non-rigid airships that operated from the station (though with little success) until they were replaced by the first North Sea class airships in the summer of 1917. These airships were bigger and could carry a crew of ten men. Two new non-rigid North Sea class airships, the N.S.7 and the N.S.8 had been delivered in 1918, and it was in the former that Lavery flew over the North Sea above a convoy sailing towards the Firth of Forth.

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