Air Aces of World War One


Picture – Courtesy of Pinterest 

Hauptmann Rudolf Berthold – Germanys Iron Knight 1891 / 1920

Oskar Gustav Rudolf Berthold was born in 1891 at Ditterswind, in the Kingdom of Bavaria. His father was an Head Forester. His military career began in 1910 when he was accepted as an officer candidate in the 3rd Brandenberg  Infantry Regt. He was required to serve 18months training as an Officer candidate, before being voted on by the Regiments Officers. Berthold was accepted and on 27th January 1912 he was commissioned as a Leutnant. Towards the end of Berthold’s training, the Jungdeutschsland – Buch ( Young Germany Federation) was founded. he became the Wittenburg leader of this Patriotic Society that was mobilising German youth for National Service.

Der Fliegertruppe ( The Flying Troop ) became an official part of the Imperial German Army on the 1st of October 1912. Berthold learned to fly at his own expense in 1913, qualifying as a pilot in September of that year. He trained at the Halberstadter Flugzeugwerke ( Halberstadt Aircraft Factory on dual-control Bristol Aircraft; one of his fellow students was Oswald Boelcke. After informing his family that he was on ‘Special Assignment’ to a Flying School he underwent Military Flight Training during July 1914.

The outbreak of World War One disrupted the young aviators progress, on the Ist of July 1914 Berthold was recalled to his regiment; Once there, he discovered his marching skills had deteriorated during his Aviation training. after a fortnights refresher course in soldierly skills he was transferred back to Aviation Training. On 17th July 1914 he was officially transferred to the Air Service. Because of his fortnight break he had to serve not as a pilot but as an observer.

On the 1st of August 1914, He entrained for the Royal Saxon Air base, at Grossenhain, by the 7th of August 1914, Berthold was transferred to Feldflieger- Abteilung 23, supporting the German 2nd Army. By the 9th of August FFA23 was encamped at Monschau, close to the Belgian border. On the 15th of August, Berthold was chosen for the units first reconnaissance mission. Two days later, his pilot strayed off course, Berthold and his pilot, landed lost. They managed to evade French Cavalry  to direct retrieval of their DFW Biplane. In his diary, Berthold noted his decision to complete pilot training.

(C) Damian Grange 2019



Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 125 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 125 )

  ‘Usually we only wear Mess Dress for special occasions, or if we have a high – ranking guest joining us for dinner its generally a bit of a posh to-do, polish the Regimental silver and all the bullshit that goes with it, but its not all bad, we occasionally get a half decent wine or a drop of champers!’ explained Jimmy.

We stayed together for the remainder of the day, acquainting ourselves with the layout of our floating home, albeit for a few weeks only. A little time was spent chatting to the troopers, who to my untrained eye, seemed an amicable bunch, not short on intellect.

Late afternoon we returned to our quarters, to do our ablutions and change for dinner, everything, must be just so if the Colonel himself is finally to make an appearance.

I asked my colleague, ‘Will I do?’ his answer was, ‘ You look fine, its only for the Colonel, not some top-brass, spit and polish General, don’t get all on edge.’

‘Well!’ I replied, ‘You have to realise I’m new to all this, I don’t want to stagger in to your Mess, like a bull in a china shop,’ ‘ Just relax and you’ll be fine, even with the Colonel present, its quite an amicable affair and the food is usually quite decent.’

I was pleasantly surprised, the atmosphere was quite sociable, and I was made welcome and not made to feel like an outsider at all. The food was excellent, but then, the ship had been a cruise liner before being converted to a troop carrier so I imagined the crew knew their business.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

The Castle Karlstadt – Excerpt 6

The Castle Karlstadt – Excerpt 6

  As I rode through the village and saw the looks I was getting from the local populace, I began to realise that this was not the normal reaction. The women looked away and crossed themselves as if I were something unholy, and the men looked at me with unbridled hatred in their eyes.

I unslung my rifle from across my shoulders, I was badly outnumbered but I had been  in situations like this before in India. And from experience I knew that if you killed or wounded the ring leader, the remainder would back down allowing you to make good you escape.

This situation had in no way reached that point, but as a stranger in a foreign land, I was taking no chances with them, better safe than sorry.

I put the spurs to my horse and galloped unhindered through the rest of the village and out the other side, until I was safely back on the road to Karlstadt.

I halted behind a small copse of trees, and checked to see if I was being pursued. I saw and heard nothing. Odd? I thought, I somehow expected to be pursued. This was hardly the welcome that I had expected to receive.

I was now in something of a predicament? Should I continue to Karlstadt and hope that my welcome would be a little more civilised. Or did I take the view that for reasons unbeknown to myself, I was persona non-grata in this region.

It was a typical military situation, damned if you do, damned if you don’t! there was no other choice. I had to venture in to Karlstadt, and face up to whatever problem was awaiting me there, I had no choice. It had to be done.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Conor Dillon – Beginnings Excerpt 24

Conor Dillon – Beginnings Excerpt 24

  All the bravado and insolence, that Flaherty had shown seemed to vanish with those softly spoken words, he saw death in the depth’s of Conor’s green eyes. ‘Pistol’s!’ he spat out, not at all sure he had made the right choice.

Black Michael handed each of them a horse pistol then positioned then for the duel, they stood back to back. ‘Walk ten paces, turn and fire, if no one is injured reload and fire until one of you is hors de combat or dead.

Shamus edged up to Flaherty and said,’ If I were you, I’d fire my shot and run, I’ve seen the boy shoot, he never misses, and he’s really pissed with you!’

Black Michael issued the command, ‘Start walking!’ the other reluctant volunteers started to count off the paces, ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, fire! Flaherty turned and fired, but due to Shamus’s words had fired in panic, his shot way to the left of Conor.

Conor stood facing him, his pistol raised and a scowl on his face, said, loudly so all of the men could hear, ‘Will you serve me, bastard or not or would you sooner die here, shot as a mutineer by your senior Officer.’

Flaherty, with eyes downcast answered, ‘ I will serve you, if you will have me, Conor Dillon?’ Conor, grinning said, ‘I have already had you!’ he pointed the pistol at Flaherty who looked terrified, and pulled the trigger. There was a puff of smoke as the powder ignited, nothing more.

The pistol wasn’t loaded, Flaherty looked at Conor bemused, then started to laugh out loud. Conor patted him on the back, ‘ I need good men, I don’t waste them. Anyone else here who will not accept my authority?’

  (C) Damian Grange 2019


Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 124 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 124 )

  ‘For what its worth, you have my vote, but I will have to put it before our esteemed Colonel for his agreement before I can make it official, If, He agrees and I see no reason why he shouldn’t, I will see that you get a sergeant to keep the troops in order,’ Replied the Adjutant.

‘There is just one more thing?’ said Jimmy,’ Will it be a problem, if the Doctor joins our Officers in the mess, it appears that no arrangements have been made for him.’

‘Once again, I will have to refer it to the Colonel, its a damned nuisance, The man has to have a finger in everything, but I don’t envy him the responsibility. Join us in the mess for dinner and hopefully by then I’ll have some answers for you.’ he stated dismissing us.

‘Is it always like this? no one but the Colonel can make a decision, what if he makes a wrong or poor decision, based on the intelligence he has to hand,’ I asked.

‘Then!’ stated Jimmy, ‘I’m afraid the shit hits the fan literally, at that point our training should take over or we turn into a disorganised rabble,’ Stated Jimmy. ‘Could this really happen?’ I asked astounded by his reply.

‘Apparently during The Indian Mutiny, there were several quite criminal decisions made by Senior Officers, but good old Tommy Atkins and the other gentlemen in khaki saved the day, as they always do, with their indomitable fighting spirit.’

‘Let’s change the subject, I said,’ What do I wear for mess, Khaki’s or Mess Dress?’ ‘Khaki, unless the orders of the day state otherwise, I’ll keep you up to date on that one’ promised Jimmy, who was turning out to be a very useful man to know.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Air Aces of World War One

paul baumer
Picture – Courtesy of Pinterest

Leutnant Paul Wilhelm Baumer – German Ace 1896 / 1927

  Baumer was born on the 11th of May 1896 in Duisburg, Germany. Prior to World War One he worked as a dental assistant, and earned a private pilot’s license by the summer of 1914.

At the outbreak of war, he joined the 70th Infantry Regiment. He served in both France and Russia, being wounded in the arm in the latter. He then transferred to the Air Service as a dental assistant before being accepted for pilot training.

By October 1916, he was serving as a ferry pilot and instructor at Armee Flugpark 1, on the 19th of February 1917 he was promoted to Gefreiter. On the 26th of March he was assigned to Flieger Abteilung 7; He was promoted to Unterofficier on the 29th.

On the 15th of May 1917, he was awarded the Iron Cross Second Class. He subsequently received training on single-seaters, in consequence being posted to fighter duty. Baumer joined Jagdstaffelon the 30th of June 1917, scoring three victories as a balloon-buster in mid- July before being transferred to the elite Jasta Boelcke.

Baumer claimed heavily, reaching 18 victories by the end of the year. He was commissioned Leutnant in April 1918. On the 29th of May, Baumer was injured in a crash, breaking his jaw and he returned to the Jasta in September.

With the arrival of the new Fokker D.VII he claimed even more success, including 16 victories in September. Nicknamed Eiserner Adler (Iron Eagle) he flew with a personal emblem of the edelweiss on his aircraft.

He was one of the few pilots in World War One whose lives were saved by parachute deployment, when he was shot down in flames in September 1918. He was awarded the Pour Le Merite, just before the Armistice and was finally credited with 43 kills making him the sixth ranking German Ace.

Baumer died in an Air crash at Copenhagen on the 15th of July 1927, age 31 whilst test flying a new fighter aircraft.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 123 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 123 )

  ‘If you’ll take my advice, Jack, run it by the Adjutant first, the Colonel is the head of the Regiment, but the Adjutant runs it day to day, get him on your side and its a done deal’ explained Jimmy.

‘When will it be convenient to see your Adjutant?’ I asked. ‘I can take you to see him now’ said Jimmy, ‘We have to see him anyway, to get the ok for you to be a guest in our Mess Room.’

We vacated our cabin and climbed the stairway to the upper deck, where apparently the Senior Officers had their quarters, as we strolled along the deck, Jimmy halted and said, ‘I believe this is the one?’ He knocked on the door and a voice from within called for us to enter.

We entered, Jimmy leading, to where an Officer sat behind a desk sifting through papers. ‘Major Beaumont, this is Doctor Jack of the Medical Corps, he has a proposition he would like to put to you’ Jimmy kindly introduced me and sponsored me too.

‘I’m pleased to meet you Doctor, Major is the formal title, off duty you may call me Harry, but I’m afraid our Colonel is a one for formalities, now lets hear your proposal’

‘Well the thing is, we are all going to be stuck on this ship for several weeks, and as I am sure you are aware, trained Doctors are in very short supply, what I am proposing is that I teach your men rudimentary medical skills. Nothing too technical, but enough to prolong a wounded comrades life until proper attention arrives. I was thinking in groups of ten at a time or thereabouts, give them something to think about,’ I stated my case.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

The Castle Karlstadt – Excerpt 5

The Castle Karlstadt – Excerpt 5

  I was just drifting off, when I heard something, was I , knowing the Castle’s history imagining things. Or had I truly heard something. I sat up stealthily and reached for my rifle which lay beside me. I was taking no chances.

I had been made aware that there were brigands and gypsies residing in the area, a lone traveller would be taken by either as easy pickings. I listened intently for several minutes, but not another sound was to be heard. I decided that maybe I had imagined it, or that maybe it was just the wind blowing through a hole in the ceiling.

The following morning, I awoke refreshed and after breakfast decided to continue down the valley into the town itself. I had no notion of the welcome that would be waiting for me there.

After I had fed and watered my horse, I mounted up and headed in the direction of Karlstadt. I was looking forward to staying there and relaxing for a few days, The way my friendly nun had described it, it seemed ideal.

If I had known the welcome that was awaiting me, I think I would have rapidly rode in the opposite direction, in hindsight naturally. As I passed through one of the outlying villages, I sensed an air of tension about the place. Maybe I should have heeded the warning signs.

I was a stranger, mounted on a good horse, armed with several weapons, all of which to these people were of modern manufacture. I think they obviously took me for a military man. As a soldier, I was used to being viewed by peasants in this way. Instinctual fear, I suppose you would call it.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 122 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 122 )

  I studied my companion, he was tall, reasonably well built and with an air of authority about him. In his mid-twenties I would have guessed. He seemed like he would be a good Officer, My first impressions were, I rather liked him.

‘Have you made any arrangements regarding your meals?’ Queried Jimmy. ‘ To be totally honest, I never gave them a thought, It’s my first time at this kind of thing’ I replied in all honesty. ‘I’ll have a word with our Adjutant, as an Officer, you really should be dining in an Officer’s Mess, we can’t have you eating with the other ranks,’ he said.

‘That’s awfully good of you, I don’t wish to inconvenience anyone’ I stated. ‘It’s just Army, Officers and other ranks, we can fight together, we can die together but we definitely can’t eat together, I agree it’s totally ludicrous’ he said light -heartedly.

‘What is your Commanding Officer like? I inquired. ‘Our Colonel, the honourable James Ponsonby – Smyth is descended from a long line of English warriors, which be the way he will never let you forget. Wherever we English have fought, there has been a Ponsonby – Smyth leading them, or so he insists, often! was his slightly sarcastic reply.

‘I’ve been warned about Senior Officers with Crimean War mentality, is he one of that type? I asked. ‘ I’ve no doubts a Ponsonby – Smyth fought there, but no he’s not totally inflexible, why do you ask? ‘ I wondered if he would let me teach your soldiers basic first aid, on the battlefield it could save lives. As we are all travelling in idleness, I hoped to put the time to good use.’

(C) Damian Grange 2018

Air Aces of World War One

The von Richtofen Brothers – Manfred and Lothar

The richtofens
Picture – Courtesy of Pinterest

Oberleutnant Lothar Seigfried Freiherr von Richtofen – German Ace 1894 / 1922

  During the first week of May 1917, Richtofen scored three more victories. On the evening of the 7th of May 1917, Richtofen was leading a flight of five Albatros Dlll’s near Douai when they encountered eleven S.E.5’s of the “elite” No.56 Squadron R.F.C. Including the top English Ace at the time, Captain Albert Ball, as well as a Spad S.VII from No.19 Squadron and a Sopwith Triplane of No.8 Naval Squadron.

In a running battle in deteriorating visibility in the middle of a thunderstorm over Bourton Wood, both sides became scattered. Richtofen engaged in single combat with the British Triplane. At about the same time, Ball was seen by fellow 56 Sqn member Cyril Crowe chasing a red Albatros in to a thundercloud. Ball lost control of his plane and crashed in to the ground which resulted in his death. Although forced to land his damaged aircraft, Richtofen suffered no injuries. The Sopwith Triplane Involved in the action returned to his base undamaged.

Richtofen posted a claim for shooting down the Sopwith Triplane. However the propaganda value of Ball’s death at the hands of a German pilot was obvious and so the German High Command awarded the victory over Ball to Richtofen. The fallacy of the award was readily apparent. The idea that a pilot of Richtofen’s experience could confuse a biplane with a triplane was ludicrous. Leutnant Hailer, a German pilot on the ground who witnessed the crash and was one of the first on the crash scene, saw no battle damage to Ball’s aircraft. The Doctor who autopsied Ball’s body reported massive injuries due to the crash, but no bullet wounds. Nevertheless, the German official line was that Richtofen shot down Ball.

Richtofen raised his total to 24 on the 13th of May, when after shooting down a B.E.2, he was wounded in the hip by anti-aircraft fire and crash landed, his injuries kept him out of combat for five months. On the 14th of May he was awarded the Pour le Merite, and he resumed command of Jasta 11 in September 1917. In early 1918, he suffered a severe ear infection and was hospitalised in Berlin.

Returning to his unit in February 1918, He claimed 3 Bristol Fighter F2b’s on the 11th and 12th of March before he was again forced down by a Sopwith Camel flown by Captain Augustus Orlebar of No.73 Squadron. Whilst nursing his crippled Fokker Dr1 into a landing, Richtofen clipped a high tension wire and crashed heavily, suffering serious head injuries it was while recovering from these injuries that he heard of his elder brothers death.

Lothar returned to service with Jasta 11 in July 1918, he scored his final victory a D.H.9a on the 12th of August 1918 flying a Fokker D.VII. The next day he was again wounded in action against Sopwith Camels, probably by Captain Field E. Kindley of the 148th Aero Squadron U.S.A.S. Lothar was promoted to Oberleutnant and saw no further action during the war.

If you consider the amount of time spent on the front and in hospitals, he was one of the most combat efficient and prolific flying Aces of the war, perhaps even more so than his brother Manfred. Of his final score of 40 victories, Lothar scored 33 in just three months, 15 in April 1917, 8 in May 1917 and 10 in August 1918.

Lothar von Richtofen died in a flying accident at Hamburg in 1922, when the plane he was flying crashed due to engine failure.

(C) Damian Grange 2018