Air Aces of World War One

Gottfried banfield
Picture – Courtesy of Pinterest

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

Picture – Courtesy of Pinterest

]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


Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 142 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 142 )

  I have no objection to serving penance, particularly if it hastens my redemption. I have no choice but to grin and bear it. It may be the solitude is to give me time to think and analyse my crimes, it might be the lord’s way of punishing me, to make me earn my redemption.

If this is what it takes, I happily accept it, after all, my mission here was to give comfort to the sick and wounded, I swore an oath to do no less and if doing so expedites my redemption, then I will set to with renewed vigour.

I admit to missing my family and friends, after all they are half the world away, but of this I am certain, nothing changes, their friendship awaits. I have for all my life been something of a loner, but I truly miss the bond of friendship that I shared with Fred and Lizzie Abberline, and of course my sibling, Giles.

I was sat alone, wallowing in despond, when an orderly came to my office and handed me a letter, ‘ For you, Doctor, from the War Office?’ the moment he left, I opened it with trembling hands, what could this possibly be?

I read the letter, then I could have stood up and cheered, There were two Doctors who were currently en route to South Africa, to relieve Arthur and myself. If, they arrived in time, I would be returning to England with Arthur or just shortly thereafter. Maybe there is a God after all.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

The Castle Karlstadt – Excerpt 14

The Castle Karlstadt – Excerpt 14

  ‘May I ask a personal question, Father?’ I asked, ‘Are you in some way, trying to prove her innocence in this affair.’ ‘I wonder, why do you ask that?’ he replied somewhat cautiously. ‘I may be a soldier , but I am also a man, you spoke of her fondly.’ I replied, ‘For a man of the cloth, it seemed a little out of character, if I may say so.

He looked around a little furtively, then once he was certain there was no one eavesdropping he said, ‘Can I trust you to keep a secret, a thing of importance.’ ‘You have my word of honour, as an Officer and a gentleman,’ I stated with some conviction, as I liked and trusted the Father.

The Countess Karlstadt was my sibling and I failed her, that is why I am here, I need to find out the truth of what happened here, who is the guilty and who is not, I owe that much to her memory.’ ‘ Is there something that you are aware of that I am not?’

‘My nephew Anders, who I never knew, was apparently a handsome young man who was very popular with the local girls. I get the impression that he was probably a bit of a libertine, but that do’s not make a reason for killing both him and his Mother, impaling them with stakes and then burning their bodies.’

‘I have no proof , but I believe there is something behind this, something evil, but I don’t  understand what there is to gain, there must be something, I just don’t know what it is?’ ‘I believe you Michael, your secret is safe in my hands,’ I assured him, ‘But if you find anything that might explain things while we are here, please keep me informed, I am intrigued by it all!’

(C) Damian Grange 2019


This Bulldog Bites – Excerpt 1

This Bulldog Bites – 


  The tale that I am about to relate, was told to me many years ago, while I was on holiday in Majorca. Several versions of the same story were related to me by people who had been guests at the hotel the previous week before my arrival. On this basis and this alone, I believe the tale will make an entertaining diversion. Due to the nature of the tale, I thought it prudent to change the names of the protagonists, but not of the events that took place at the time.

Ivy Danvers began her life as plain Ivy Smith, her Father worked as a porter at Smithfield Market, her Mother took in washing. The family were not affluent but Ivy and her younger siblings were well fed and content.

Like most working folk in the East end of London, her parents liked a drink and a good old knees up, the young Ivy loved this too, and could always be found performing outside the pub with her siblings in toe, whilst her parents were inside drinking.

Ivy was no great beauty, but what she lacked in looks she made up with personality and a naïve but cheeky charm. The years passed by and a slightly older and wiser Ivy landed a job in the chorus of a West End show. A far cry from her debut performance outside the Dog and Duck in the East End.

It didn’t take Ivy long to build a circle of friends among the other girls in the chorus, many of them were from backgrounds not so dissimilar to her own. Daphne, one of her close friends, asked Ivy if she would mind going out on a date with her, her Beau was an officer in the Guards, and he had a friend who had shown more than a passing interest in the lovely Ivy.

(C) Damian Grange 2019




Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 141 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 141 )

  But for now, it was back to work for Arthur and I, we had lives to save and with the arrival of suitable medicines we may just succeed in doing so.

I had numerous patients to treat both British soldiers and Boers, but wondered how much longer my services would be needed here. My contract was for the duration of the conflict, but the conflict was almost over, other than a few Boer Bitter – Enders who refused to surrender, but sooner or later even they would see reason.

Don’t misunderstand me, I am content enough with my purpose here, I think the thought of Arthur leaving has given me a little home- sickness. Odd, as it may sound I rather miss the squalor of Whitechapel, but then I spent the most challenging years of my life there.

I miss the people’s cheerful attitude in the face of poverty, The Boers are a fine people but they have a rather dour attitude to life, but in all fairness they are colonists in a relatively new country, their lives can’t be easy, maybe I judge them too harshly.

I suspect that probably the real truth of the matter is that I am lonely, Arthur is the only real friend I have here, and when he returns to London as he will be doing shortly, I will be alone, unless another physician deigns to join me.

I have a duty to my patients, but I also have a duty to myself. I came here to tend the sick and wounded. I agree, I needed for a time to get away from Whitechapel. But it was never my intention to become an exile from my own country. I am happy to serve, but I don’t want to be stuck in this arid God forsaken country for ever.

Or is this the penance that I have to serve as redemption for my sins. If that be the case, I will keep my head down and keep doing the best I can for my patients, and hope that one day that will be enough to end my exile!

(C) Damian Grange 2019