Air Aces of World War One



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Major Lanoe George Hawker V.C. England’s 1st Ace 1890/1916

The son of a Distinguished Military family, Hawker was born on the 30th of December 1890 at Longparish, Hampshire, England. He was educated at Stubbington House School and then at 11 yrs old to The Royal Navy College in Dartmouth, although highly intelligent and a keen sportsman, his grades didn’t reflect this and a Naval career seemed unlikely.

And so, he entered The Royal Military Academy in Woolwich before joining the Royal Engineers as an Officer Cadet. A clever inventor, Hawker developed a keen interest in all mechanical and engineering developments. During the summer of 1910 he saw a film depicting the Wright Flyer and after attending an aircraft flying display at Bournemouth.

He quickly gained an interest in Aviation, learning to fly at his own expense at Hendon Aerodrome. On the 4th of March 1913, he was awarded Aviators Certificate No.435 by The Royal Aero Club. Promoted to 1st Lieutenant in October 1913, he was posted to Cork Harbour with the 33rd Fortress Company. His request for attachment to The Royal Flying Corps was granted and he reported to the Central Flying School at Upavon on 1st August 1914.

Hawker was posted to France in October 1914, as a Captain with No.6 Sqn. R.F.C. flying Henri Farmans. The squadron soon converted to the B.E.2c and Hawker undertook numerous reconnaissance missions, into 1915 being wounded once by ground fire. On the 22nd Of April he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for attacking a German Zeppelin shed at Gontrode by dropping hand grenades at low level, below 200ft from his B.E.2c. He used a tethered German Balloon to shield him from enemy fire from the ground while he made successive attacks. During the 2nd battle of Ypres, Hawker was wounded in the foot by ground fire. For the remainder of the battle he had to be carried to and from his Aircraft but refused to be grounded until the battle was over.

To be Continued ……..

(C) Damian Grange 2018

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 146 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 146 )

  ‘But, surely if this were to happen, nobody wins, a whole generation will be wiped out,’I stated. ‘This is the reason that I asked, would you be prepared to serve again? our country will need men like you and I, to mend both their bodies and their minds, so will you serve?’ he asked me once again.

‘Most certainly I will serve, especially if the carnage is to be as bad as you predict,’ I was happy to be given yet another opportunity to earn my redemption. Arthur left the following day, I was sorry to see him go, In the short time I had known him, I had learned to admire him. Both for his skills as a surgeon and his outlook on life. I would miss him and his friendship and support.

But on the positive side, he was going home and within a short space of time, I would be leaving too, I longed to be back in England. I had new challenges awaiting me, I was returning with a certain degree of uncertainty, I had a home and a certain amount of money. But no job, as such, That was why I needed to see Giles to ask for his blessing on my proposal to open up my home as a medical practice.

I know that whatever way he views my proposal, his advice will be sound and practical, I have always valued my elder siblings advice. Since the death of my Father, he is the rock that I rely upon.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

The Castle Karlstadt – Excerpt 16

The Castle Karlstadt – Excerpt 16

  Father Michael and the Doctor came charging in to the room, but it was all settled, Bruno sat brooding but said nothing more. The girl ran to me and buried her head in my shoulder, sobbing, it had been a close call and I think she realised what I had saved her from.

The girl, once I had succeeded in calming her down, told me that her name was Karina and she had lived in the castle forever, or as long a time as that was. I asked her what she did for food, she looked at me and smiled and said that the castle provided for her. I told her I didn’t understand, She explained, ‘I get up in the morning, there is a meal waiting, I want a snack at lunch time, it is waiting for me and the same at dinner,’ I didn’t comprehend it, but the girl didn’t seem simple, far from it, she seemed bright.

So! where do’s it come from, this food, it can’t just appear?’ ‘Well! when I was little, we had servants,’ she stated, ‘But after the fire, when I was the only one left, I thought it might be the Gypsies who were bringing me food, but now I honestly don’t know, it just appears.’

I accepted her explanation, but made a mental note, that there was at least one other person living somewhere in the castle. As to Karina herself, I found her absolutely captivating, she had raven black hair, blue eyes, a cute nose and lovely even white teeth, when she smiled, which she did often. She had no education, at least not in the normal sense, but she was far from stupid, nor was she naïve, just the opposite.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

This Bulldog Bites – Excerpt 3

This Bulldog Bites – Excerpt 3

  She consulted her travel agent, who arranged her passport and other travel documents and booked the hotel for a week in June of that year. Ivy wasn’t quite sure whether to be elated or frightened, for a woman of her age to be leaving her homeland for the first time was a giant step, and not one to be taken lightly.

Daphne and her Husband delivered Ivy to the Airport. Daphne almost had to force her to board the Aircraft, I think the sheer size of it surprised Ivy. It is nice to live in a village, but sometimes village life can be too insular. The outside world can be something of a daunting prospect and Ivy was just beginning to realise by how much.

But Ivy was made of sterner stuff, and once settled in a window seat, she began to view the flight as a bit of an adventure, something to enjoy and regale her chums back in the village with tales of it. The flight happily was quite uneventful and once Ivy had cleared the Airport and boarded the coach for her hotel. she began to have quite a positive feeling about the week ahead.

The hotel guests appeared to be split in to two distinct groups, the British contingent, to which Ivy obviously belonged, and the Germans, who still believed themselves to be the master race, because of the way the Spanish fussed around them.

Among the Germans was Werner Schmidt, who worked as an under manager in one of the German banks. Werner was an easy-going man who was happy to lead a quiet life. His Wife, Greta, on the other hand was just the opposite. she had to be the centre of attention and constantly complained to anyone who would listen, about everything and nothing, a constant high pitched moan.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 145 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 145 )

  ‘And where do you think they will attack?’ I asked. ‘I am of the opinion that there could be fighting on several fronts, but I think the one concerning the British will be the Western Front, Holland, Belgium and France.’ ‘ And do you think that British forces will be involved?’ ‘Almost certainly, The French were our allies in the Crimea, so I would imagine if they were involved we would go to their aid, I know a lot of our politicians see it that way.’

‘But what is all this really about? And how do you know so much about it?’ ‘ I don’t wish to sound pompous!’ stated Arthur, ‘ But I do know lots of people in Senior positions, both in the Government and the Military, one does hear things you know.’ ‘ But why now, in God’s name,’ I asked.

‘Expansion,’ said Arthur, ‘ That is the problem, take Africa for instance, she has gold , diamonds and doubtless other minerals, hide, skins and ivory. Every country in Europe wants their own piece of that particular pie. We in Britain, of course have the Lion’s share, but competing with us are France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Holland or the Boer’s as they prefer to be called in Africa, now do you see the crux of the problem?’ He explained.

‘Every country in Europe wants to increase it’s possessions abroad, for various reasons, but mainly it is about power and control, The great game, if you would have it so!’

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Air Aces of World War One

Gottfried banfield
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Gottfried Freiherr von Banfield – Austro – Hungarian Ace 1890 / 1986

  Of Norman origin, the Banfields were an Irish family in the 16th century, The ancestor Thomas Banfield an officer in the British Army, while in Bavaria married an Austrian noblewoman. He took part in the Crimean war and died shortly after the taking of Sevastopol. His son Richard Banfield chose Austrian citizenship and became an Officer in the K.U.K. Kriegsmarine. Gottfried was born in Castlenuova, which is situated in the Bay of Cattaro, the homeport of one of the Austrian fleets. His Father was English, but Gottfried chose Austrian nationality.

He attended the Military Secondary School in Sankt Polten, then the Naval Academy in Fiume on the 17th of June 1909 he emerged as a cadet. In May 1912, he was promoted to Frigate-Lieutenant. A month later he began pilot training in the Flying School at Wiener Neustadt, and in August he obtained his flying licence. Enthused with aviation, like his elder Brother, who was already a well-known aviator.

He was chosen to be among the first pilots in the Austrian Navy, and went off to perfect his training at the Donnet – Leveque pilot school in France, where his trainer was the company’s chief pilot, the Naval lieutenant, Jean-Louis Conneau, a pilot famous at the time for having won many air contests under the pseudonym of Beaumont. At the Pola Naval Air Base of Santa Catarina Island he trained in seaplanes. As the result of a forced landing in 1913 he broke a leg so badly that his foot was barely saved. He was not airborne again until the outbreak of the war.

To Be Continued…………..

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 144 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 144 )

  I have a house in the respectable part of Whitechapel, I have the staff and the necessary space, why not set up my own practice. The people locally know my reputation. I have more or less made up my mind, but I will ask Giles for his blessing and approval, personally it seems a logical move, but he may think differently.

Now I know that my time here in Africa is almost at an end, I wake each day with a smile on my face and a willingness to face whatever the day offers. Arthur remarked on how cheerful I had become, ‘It’s because I will soon be going home, back to England’s green and pleasant land, or at least that’s the way I see it.

‘If this is your first time abroad, I can understand that, the first time that I travelled abroad I longed to return home to Edinburgh and my family home. Would you consider working for the Military again?’ he questioned.

‘Possibly, it would depend where, and in what capacity, why?’ ‘Germany is starting to flex its muscles, it is land and power hungry, you know about the Franco – Prussian war, that was just the beginning, it will not be for a while, but they are expanding their forces and improving their weaponry, and it’s not for defence.

‘When and where do you think it will start?’ I asked, for he had piqued my interest.  ‘I would say ten to fifteen years at the most, they have to train and mobilise their troops’

(C) Damian Grange 2019

The Castle Karlstadt – Excerpt 15

The Castle Karlstadt – Excerpt 15

  We concluded our search, then returned to the others. The fire they had built was burning brightly and they had a meal of sorts cooking over the fire. All very satisfactory I thought. But my mind was not on my meal. The information I had been given by Father Michael had my head in ferment. It was a very different story to the one I was told earlier.

It all seemed to centre on the castle, but why was it so important? Strategically it was in a good position. But I’m looking at this through a soldier’s eye, maybe its not about the castle. Is there something of worth or importance hidden within the castle? so many ideas, so many options.

I spent a restless night trying to solve the conundrum that was the castle and woke bleary eyed and bad tempered. The fire was still glowing red, so I built it up a little to generate a little warmth. The Doctor was asleep head resting on his saddle, Father Michael lay near to him, wrapped in his cassock. but where was Bruno, he was missing?

I was just about to wake the others, when I heard a scream, it sounded like a woman or a girl in distress. I grabbed my rifle and headed in the direction that the sound had come from. It was Bruno, he was manhandling a young woman, He spun her round and slapped her across the face, howling, ‘Vampire bitch! I will kill you!’ as he drew his knife, I had no choice but to intervene.

‘Drop the knife Bruno, or I will shoot, and if you make me, I will shoot to kill!’ I made my intentions crystal clear. He hesitated, so to make my intentions perfectly clear, I fired a warning shot in to the air. Bruno dropped his knife and stepped away from the girl, for girl she was. He gave me a look of total malice, but the rifle in my hands kept him in check, he knew I would not hesitate to use it.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

This Bulldog Bites – Excerpt 2

This Bulldog Bites – Excerpt 2

  Ivy reluctantly agreed and that was how she met Freddy Danvers, the son of a bishop, who became after a whirlwind three-month courtship, her husband. His Mother wasn’t sure about Ivy, but when she was introduced to his Father, the bishop and unwittingly addressed him as your highness, she was accepted. The bishop admired her East End charm. He knew that given the chance, she would be the making of his son, and it was also patently obvious that Freddy adored her and she reciprocated.

They were ecstatically happy for a while, then it all ended abruptly. As the war with Germany became reality, not just rumour. Freddy was almost immediately sent to France with his Regiment. He was sadly, one of the first British casualties. Ivy was heartbroken, all of her friends rallied round, but there was no consoling her, she retired to the little country cottage that was to have been their home, where she mourned the loss of her beloved Freddy.

As the years passed by, History repeated itself, we had yet another World War. Ivy did what she could with her colleagues in the Women’s Institute, in her own words, ‘Every little helps’ More years passed by, and people became more affluent, soon ordinary working – class Brits were taking holidays abroad, to countries that most of their parents had never heard of, least of all visited.

Then one day, out of the blue, Ivy received a letter saying that she had won a substantial amount on the premium bonds, she said a big thank you to Mr. Ernest Marples, then carefully placed the cheque in her purse. Never having to hand this amount of money before, Ivy contacted her old chorus line chum, Daphne with whom she had always kept in touch.

Daphne came up with the suggestion that she should take a holiday, somewhere nice and sunny. Ivy suggested a week in Brighton. Daphne managed to convince her after hours of reasoning that she should in fact go abroad. Ivy perused what the holiday brochures had to offer, and chose the Majestic Hotel on Majorca, one of the Spanish Islands,

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 143 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 143 )

  I was almost in tears, totally overwhelmed by the thought of returning home to England, I had done my duty and now I could return. It was the first time that I had left my homeland and South Africa would not have been my choice.

People call Africa, the Dark Continent and it certainly was to my eyes. I am sure that like other places it has some beauty, but where I was stationed was arid and dry, a veritable hellhole, as much for the warders as the inmates, I most certainly won’t be sorry to leave here.

I think as soon as I am home and settled, I will visit my Brother, Giles, I long for the green and verdant English countryside, the thing that I missed so much. It is good to know that I have done my duty as my masters saw fit. And now that once again I am free to make my own way in this world. I think once again, I will ask my elder Brother for his advice, for he seems to know me, far better than I do.

I could of course, return to my position at the Whitechapel Infirmary, but I rather fancy a different sort of challenge, I have a mind to set myself up in surgery again, after all I am not the old me, these days hardly a drink passes my lips and then only socially and even then in moderation, I have no other distractions. I am after all a man of good reputation, feted by both the public and my peers in the Medical Profession.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Air Aces Of World War One

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]Major Donald Roderick McLaren – Canadian Ace 1893 / 1988

  McLaren was born in Ottawa, but his family moved to Calgary in 1899, then on to Vancouver in 1911.In 1912 McLaren went to Montreal to study at McGill university. In 1914 illness forced him to abandon his studies and return home to Vancouver. After his recovery. McLaren, his Father and Brother opened a fur trading post at a remote spot on the Peace river. Whilst there McLaren learnt the language of the Cree Indians.

In 1916 his family gave up the trading post in order to help with the war effort. McLaren’s Father was not allowed to join the army so he got a job with the Munitions Board. His sons did enlist, Donald joining the Royal Flying Corps. He did his initial training at 90 Central Training School and then at Camp Borden in Ontario. and then finally receiving further training in England at No.43 Training School at Ternhill. He then transferred to No.34 Training School for final fighter orientation on the Bristol Fighter and Sopwith Camel, completing nine hours solo on the Camel.

On the 23rd of November 1917 he was sent to France where he joined No.46 Squadron. His first air combat was in February 1918, when McLaren successfully shot down a German fighter, out of control. He was awarded the Military Cross for a sortie on the 21st of March 1918 when he helped to destroy a railway gun with his bombs, then shot down a balloon and two German LVG two – seaters. In September 1918, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. When the Squadron Commander was killed in a crash, McLaren was given command of the Squadron.

In late October McLaren who had escaped injury in combat, broke his leg during a friendly wrestling match with one of his squadron mates. He was sent back to England on the 6th of November and was in hospital when the Armistice was announced. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for the way in which he ran the Squadron in the closing stages of the war.

McLaren finished the war with a Military Cross and bar, Distinguished Flying Cross, Distinguished Service Order, He was also awarded the French Legion of Honour and the Croix De Guerre. McLaren claimed 1 Aircraft shared captured, 5 and 1shared balloons destroyed, 15 and 6 shared Aircraft destroyed and 18 and 8 shared Aircraft out of control. This was despite the fact that his first dogfight wasn’t until February 1918, he scored all of his victories in a mere nine months. McLaren survived the war and lived to the grand old age of 95years.

(C) Damian Grange 2019