Air Aces of World War One

 

 

Hawker
Picture – Courtesy of Pinterest

 

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 136 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 136 )

  After leaving the Commandant’s office, I made my way to the makeshift hospital for a confrontation with Arthur. I was furious that he had not explained about the Commandant’s condition. I burst in to his office shouting, ‘ Damn you, Arthur, why didn’t you warn me?’

‘Because I wanted you to see first-hand what you were up against, what did you think of the creature, Sorry!’ he stifled a grin, ‘Our Commandant!’ ‘Are you the one supplying his opiates?’ I almost accused. ‘Not guilty, I suspect he has a contact at the Cape and they come via the Mail wagon, but thinking is one thing, proving it another,’ replied a very subdued Arthur.

‘I’m sorry , its not on, that I should accuse you, I was just so shaken by his condition, he appears to be a man living on borrowed time!’ I apologised. ‘And with the pain, and the opiates that he is obviously self administering, the man is slowly spiralling in to madness, with the inmates of this camp, his victims,’ was his reply.

‘Is there nothing we can do to stop him?’ I implored Arthur. ‘Unbeknown to anyone here, I have already put the wheels in motion, I have sent a list of my complaints in pamphlet form, and because of my fame as an author, people will take notice. It is a damning indictment of General Kitchener’s policies toward the Boer’s and Governmental disinterest.’

‘You think the power of your name, will reach to the corridors of power and allow improvements to be made out here. I applaud your generosity of spirit but aren’t you being a little over confident.’

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Air Aces of World War One

bert
Picture – Courtesy of Pinterest

Hauptmann Rudolf Berthold – Germany’s Iron Knight 1891 / 1920 Pt.6

  Berthold had an Albatros D.III prepared as his assigned aircraft, It’s guns were tested for synchronisation. It was painted with his personal insignia, a mid blue fuselage with scarlet cowling and his own white winged sword of vengeance either side of the fuselage. all of his squadron mates followed his example, the only difference being the personal insignia. On the 24th of March, Berthold resumed his successful air assaults and was credited with four victories by mid-April. On the 24th of April he engaged a Caudron R.9 until driven back to base with a bullet through his right shin. This wound added more chronic pain to his misery, and caused him to return home to convalesce from 23rd of May to the 15th of June. By now his narcotics addiction was an open secret to his squadron mates.

From reports received, Berthold deduced that his squadron’s performance had declined and believed that this was due to the lack of in-air leadership. In early August he returned to his old training facility in Grossenhain and wrangled a medical certificate from its Doctor. Berthold returned to his unit to await the paperwork, to discover that he was being transferred to Jagdstaffel 18 ( Fighter Squadron 18 in Harelbeke, Belgium on the 12th of August. On the 18th of August he was finally certified to begin flying again. Prior to Berthold’s arrival Jagdstaffel 18 had had little success; their new commander promptly organised training even as they were going on combat missions. Shortly after assuming command, Berthold once again pitched his idea of using fighters en masse; 4th Armee headquarters responded by grouping Jagdstaffelen 18,24, 31 and 36 into an ad hoc Jagdgruppe 7 with Berthold in command. He shot down a Spad on the 21st of August, raising his tally to 13, it was the beginning of a string of aerial victories, during September he scored fourteen more victories bringing his total to 27. On the 2nd of October he scored his 28th victory his final one of the year.

During a dogfight on the 10th of October 1917, a British bullet ricocheted within the cockpit of Berthold’s aircraft and entered his arm at an angle that pulverised his right humerus. Berthold overcame the handicap of half severed ailerons and managed to remain conscious long enough to make a smooth one-handed landing at his home airfield. He passed out after landing, his unconscious body was lifted from his aircraft and rushed 5 kms to the field hospital at Courtrai.

To Be Continued………………

(C) Damian Grange 2018

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 135 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 135 )

  I really don’t know what I expected the Commandant to be like, but to say I was shocked would be an understatement. He was a small colourless man, he looked ill, His skin was like parchment and his eyes were discoloured and watery.

I had come here prepared to loathe him, but now that I had seen him, I rather pitied him, he was obviously not a well man. I was surprised that Arthur had not prepared me for this, I wanted to hate him but instead found myself pitying him.

I felt like I was looking at a dying man, He was obviously addicted to opiates of some kind, either morphine or opium at a guess. Perhaps Arthur just wanted another unbiased opinion, I suppose it made sense.

Then the Commandant spoke in a harsh raspy voice, ‘So, are you another do-gooder, come to plague me reports on how I run my camp?’ ‘I was sent here to assist in the welfare of the inmates, I have not been here long enough to form an opinion, but what little I have seen leads me to believe that unless certain steps are implemented you could sooner or later have a full blown typhoid epidemic on your hands!’

‘So, a few more Boers die, they are prisoners, it is to be expected,’ he replied nonchalantly. ‘But they are prisoners in your care, don’t you feel any remorse, they are Women and children, not fighting men,’ I replied angrily.

‘You Doctors are all the same, you come here trying to tell me how to run my camp, well I am the Commandant here, I have the power of life and death not you!’ was his answer. I was beginning to understand now why Arthur had not prepared me for this meeting, He wanted me to understand just what a tyrant we were dealing with, he has to go!

(C) Damian Grange 2019

 

The Castle Karlstadt – Excerpt 11

The Castle Karlstadt – Excerpt 11

  The local Priest, he who had enlisted me, started to offer an explanation, ‘Are you aware of the history of Karlstadt and its castle?’ he enquired of me. ‘I am aware of the happenings of ten years ago. when the people rebelled and ended the Karlstadt Dynasty,’ I tried not to sound too judgemental, I wasn’t present at the time, so I had no right to judge anyone.

The Mayor suddenly seemed to come out of his reverie, ‘Both mine and Bruno’s Daughter were taken and killed by these creatures, we have had peace and prosperity for ten years but now these creatures are back, from the grave or from hell itself!’ he stated sadly then slumped back in his chair, a broken man, haunted by memories of the past.

It was all starting to slowly come together for me, it seemed they had in mind a Vampire hunting expedition. And I, as a military man had been chosen to lead it. I have fought thugs in India, Kaffirs in Africa and Russians in the Crimea, but vampires were something of an unknown quantity to me. But in my personal experience the stopping power of an Enfield rifle would stop most things, natural or otherwise. I wondered when and who was going to break it to me, I had a feeling it would be sooner rather than later.

The Priest opened his mouth to speak, here it comes I thought to myself, any time now, ‘We need a leader, a man with experience to lead an expedition to the Castle and root out and destroy this evil presence, once and for all!’ ‘And you have decided amongst yourselves that I am that man, am I right?’ ‘If you accept the task, you will have our eternal gratitude.’ stated the Priest.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

 

Conor Dillon – Beginnings Excerpt 29

Conor Dillon – Beginnings Excerpt 29

  ‘I would not! Sir, the reason why I deserted I was unjustly flogged, for a crime I did not commit, It was just another way of abusing me because I am of the Catholic faith,’ He stated. ‘So, fighting alongside me and my men, you may get your revenge, is that it?’ asked Conor seeking to get at the truth. ‘Yes, Sir, I was unjustly treated and seek recompense,’ stated Sheridan.

‘Well!’ said Conor, ‘You can start by helping the others with loading and firing, I want them all up to your standard or somewhere close.’ Now with Sheridan as well as the others showing how it must be done, progress was starting to be made. Conor’s aim, although he had told no one, was to have his unit doing accurate and speedy volley fire, to emulate their enemy, the British.

He also planned, possibly utilising Sheridan’s knowledge to have them marching like a British unit. What he had in mind was a Ruse de Guerre or trick of war, his idea was that his unit to all intents and purposes would appear to be British Reinforcements, with their red coats and black facings, it shouldn’t be too hard.

Later in the day, Lords Dillon appeared, and showed interest in the training that Conor was giving his recruits. He didn’t understand Conor’s ideas, but also acknowledged that Conor was a younger man with fresh ideas, and that he may well come up with something useful.

By the close of the second day, the majority of Conor’s recruits, could load and fire twice in a minute, and hit the target or somewhere close. Conor felt quite elated, he had asked the impossible and his men had responded, and several of them had excelled.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 134 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 134 )

  ‘I suppose I had better report to him and present my orders, for what its worth!’ I stated. ‘Yes, it won’t do to keep him waiting, or he’ll have you there under armed escort, and I’m not joking.’ replied Arthur. And so I took my leave temporarily and sought out the Commandant.

I left the make shift hospital and went in search of Headquarters, I stopped a soldier and asked for directions, ‘Follow me, Sir, and I’ll take you there, are you the new Doctor? if you are you’ll rue the day you ever came here!’

‘Why do you say that, soldier?’ I questioned his remark. ‘I am a professional soldier, I fought the Boers on the field of battle and I dare say I’ve killed a few, but this is different, I’ve got a Missus and kids back home, I’d hate to think they was being treated this way.’

‘I’m new here, so I don’t completely understand your meaning?’ I said. ‘I didn’t come to Africa to starve Women and children to death, that’s what I mean, but we’re just jailers, we don’t have no say in the matter.’ he replied sadly.

We stopped outside a brick building, ‘That’s Headquarters, Sir, best of luck,’ he said. I rapped on the door, a voice bellowed ‘Enter’ it was an Orderly Sergeant, ‘Can I help you, sir,’ he asked. ‘I am here to report and present my orders to the Commandant, I am the new Doctor!’ He knocked on an inner door and entered, returning almost immediately, ‘The Commandant will see you now Sir come through!’

(C) Damian Grange 2019

 

Air Aces of World War One

Order pour le Merite – ” The Blue Max”

Blue_Max
Picture – Courtesy of Pinterest

Hauptmann Rudolf Berthold – Germany’s Iron Knight 1891 /1920 Pt.5

  On the 27th of August 1916, Berthold received the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern. Berthold was also very near to receiving the Prussian Pour le Merite for 12th of October 1916 a total of eight victories. After disallowed claims on two occasions, on the 26th of September 1916 he was finally credited with his eighth victory. He received his Blue Max, considered Imperial Germany’s supreme award for valor on the 12th of October 1916. His was only the tenth award for aviators. Five of the other living recipients attended the 16th of October celebration of the award, Including Buddecke, von Althaus, Hohndorf, Frankl and Kurt Wintgens. The following day, Berthold was assigned as Staffelfuhrer of Jagdstaffel 14.

Jagdstaffel 14 was newly formed when Berthold took command at Sarrebourg, France. It’s motley assortment of fighters included two Fokker EIII’s, an Halberstadt D.II and seven Fokker D.II’s. It had had no success when it was still the ad hoc Fokker Kampfstaffel Falkenhausen. Berthold took full advantage of being in a quiet sector, and trained his troops hard. He bought in new Albatros D.I and Albatros D.II replacement fighter aircraft, and renovated the Officers mess. In Mid – December following the unit’s first victory, they were inspected by Kaiser Wilhelm II and Crown Prince Wilhelm.

In January 1917, Berthold and his squadron were subordinated to Armee Abteilung A. Anticipating the need for future air protection, Berthold made an unheeded plea for massing air power into larger units, and supported his proposal with detailed professional analysis. In February Jagdstaffdel 14 scored only two victories. However, it was slated to more active duty in Laon, and began to re-arm with Albatros D.III fighters. Berthold flew to Laon only to find that there were no quarters for his men. He was adamant that he would not move his squadron until quarters were provided. In Mid-March a convoy of trucks hauled the squadron 200metres ( 124 miles ) to Marchais, France. they began operations on the 17th of March.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 133 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 133 )

  ‘Another one of the Generals’ wonderful ideas, run all the Boer family’s off their land and place them in camps like this, but as I am sure you appreciate, close proximity loves disease and this place is like a powder keg, waiting to explode!’

‘I worked for twelve years in Whitechapel, in the East End of London, it was a similar situation, overcrowding, poor sanitation. An area just begging for an outbreak of typhoid or cholera. I fought hard to educate the authorities of the danger, but it took a cholera epidemic to make them listen. The situation has improved slightly but it still has a long way to go.’ I stated sadly.

Ah! so you are that Jack, I couldn’t have wished for a better partner, I know full well your aims will agree with mine.’ replied a smiling Arthur. ‘And those aims are?’ I questioned, I wanted to know what I was letting myself in for.

‘To improve the conditions in this camp, to stop women and particularly children dying of malnutrition. The stock answer is always that the food deliveries keep getting ambushed by the Boers, why would they want to starve their own wives and children? look around you, do the Officers and soldiers appear malnourished?’ was his reply.

‘So, what you are implying is that the Commandant is happily pursuing a course of Genocide against the inmates, that is unbelievable?’ I stated in disbelief.

‘I agree, it sticks in my craw, that an Officer in the same Army as I am, would behave in such a way towards unarmed prisoners, the majority of whom are non-combatants,’ stated Arthur angrily.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

The Castle Karlstadt – Excerpt 10

The Castle Karlstadt – Excerpt 10

  The priest led me to what I assumed was his vestry. There were five men already in attendance within. They were introduced to me in what I presumed was their standing in the local community. The first was the Mayor, who looked totally unprepared for this meeting, he seemed to be totally bewildered by the proceedings.

The second was the Lieutenant commanding the local militia, who were there it seemed to keep order, but no reason was offered, why? The third was more interesting to me, another priest but by his looks, a zealot, He had that look, more warrior than priest. I was usually a good judge of character. I liked this man on sight. I had the feeling that you could rely on him, come what may?

The third man introduced himself, ‘I am Doctor Friedrich Eisner of the Vienna University, I am a protégé of the renowned Van Helsing!’ which I thought was all well and good, but I still had no clue where all this was leading. Or for that matter who the hell Van Helsing was?

The final member of the quintet was introduced to me as Bruno, the local blacksmith and the strongest man in the area. I could believe that, he was tall about 5.10 with a barrel chest and muscular arms and legs, he was bald and bullet headed, but he looked a formidable character. Unfortunately I disliked him on sight, I knew the type, he would resent taking orders from a relative stranger, he would bear watching.

I looked around the room, taking in the assemble group, than shaking my head in consternation said,’ OK! I know who you are! Why am I here? and more to the point, what do you want from me, there must be something?

(C)Damian Grange 2019

Conor Dillon – Beginnings Excerpt 28

Conor Dillon – Beginnings  Excerpt 28

  ‘A small unit of trained men could fire two or three volleys followed by a charge, which would knock a hole in most lines that could be used to gain maximum advantage over the English or their Allies.’ stated Conor decisively.

After this explanation, Conor started to train his seven men, he studied them for a moment, then he realised why they were struggling? ‘All of you, take off your coats and stocks, That will make loading and firing a little easier? You’ll feel more relaxed.’

The men complied with his request and the training seemed to go a little better, Shamus was reprimanding one of his trainees for not holding his musket properly. Conor intervened, ‘If you want to become a useful member of this unit, this is what I expect from you, hand me your musket.’ The recruit handed Conor his musket, Conor hefted it to his shoulder, sighted and fired at the target which he hit slightly off centre, if the target had been a man it was a kill shot.

‘That is what I expect from each and everyone of you by tomorrow afternoon, or you will be replaced by someone who can, we carry no one, do you understand?’ stated Conor, the recruit agreed reluctantly, he didn’t understand the urgency of the training.

Conor wandered around, checking the progress of the various groups, one man stood out, he was loading quickly and efficiently, His shots were all placed accurately on the target and for the most part they were kill shots.

Conor asked him for his name, ‘I’m Sheridan, Sir’ was his reply. ‘And where did you learn to load and fire like that?’ asked Conor, for Sheridan had piqued his interest. ‘I served in the English 18th Foot, The Royal Irish Regt. I was a private soldier.

‘So you are a deserter and a turncoat, how can I trust you if we are going to fight the English, would you desert me and join them?’ questioned Conor angrily.

(C) Damian Grange 2019