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


Air Aces of World War One

berthold fok

Hauptmann Rudolf Berthold – Germany’s Iron Knight 1891/1920 Pt.8

  He returned to his new assignment two days in to the new German offensive, to find that the Infantry Divisions his wing were supposed to support were complaining about their lack of air cover. Jagdgescwader II’s performance improved under its grounded commander’s guidance as the Germans advanced 65 Kilometres in eight days. On the night of the 12th of April, French artillery directed by a reconnaissance aircraft began shelling the Jagdgescwader II airfield. By the following morning the airfield and its equipment had been hit over 200times by shell bursts. Although there were no casualties, damage was such that the wing was essentially out of action for the next three weeks, as it changed airfields and re-equipped. In the meantime Berthold fretted, “And I will fly again….even if they must carry me to the airplane.”

During this inactive stretch, Berthold outlined his intended use of the wing in a memo to Headquarters. He outlined an air defence warning net posted forward to alert his wing, and he pleaded for a transport column to maintain the units mobility. Aside from his memo, he planned personnel changes within his new wing. He felt that the squadron commanders were plotting to have him replaced. By the 18th of May the last of them had been replaced. The wing’s score improved for that month, with a total of 19 victories.

Berthold had often flown a Pfalz D.III in preference to the Albatros D.V. In May 1918 the new Fokker D.VII entered service. Berthold borrowed one of the new machines from JagdgescwaderI for a surreptitious test flight. He liked its lightness on the controls, remarking hopefully that he could fly it even with a damaged right arm. On the morning of the 28th of May 1918 Berthold flew a brand new Fokker DVII and for the first time led his air wing in to combat. Although it was a ground support mission, he took the opportunity to score his 29th victory. The following day he downed two more aircraft, despite a malfunctioning gun synchroniser that nearly shot away his own propeller and caused a crash landing. Berthold’s drug addiction didn’t appear to hamper him in the air. Georg Von Hantelmann, one of his pilots, noted that despite his undiminished martial skills, his morphine addiction made him temperamentally erratic, nevertheless his subordinates remained loyal to him. Berthold’s victory tally by half a dozen victories during the month of June.

Berthold fought on, scoring two more victories in July, he scored three more victories in early August raising his tally to 42. On the 10th of August he led 12 pilots in to battle against a vastly superior force of British aircraft. He shot down a British S.E.5a fighter for his 43rd victory and a D.H.9 bomber for his 44th. when he tried to pull away from the D.H.9 at 8oo metres his controls came loose in his hands, he tried to use his parachute but failed because it needed both hands. he crashed in to a house in Ablaincourt with such force that his engine ended up in the cellar. German infantry men plucked him from the rubble and rushed him to hospital. His right arm was re-broken at its previous fracture. He would never fly again! Rudolf Berthold had a tally of 44 victories, many of these whilst flying one- handed. He survived to see the end of the war, although still bed-ridden from his injuries. After the war, in 1919, Berthold formed a Freikorps in his native Franconia, he attracted 1200 men, mostly bound to him by personal loyalty. Initially formed to fight communist insurrectionists, whilst trying to keep order against striking workers in Hamburg against overwhelming odds, the mob overpowered and disarmed him, he was shot twice in the head and four times in the body and left in the gutter. An ignoble end for a great patriot.

(C) Damian Grange 2019





Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 140 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 140 )

  With the arrival of Miss Hobhouse everything changed. The camp seemed revitalised, the Boer women were happy because they had found both an ally and benefactor. The troops were happy because Miss Hobhouse had rendered the Commandant all but  impotent. They to a man despised him, but were forced to obey him.

As for Arthur and I, we were content, among her baggage Miss Hobhouse had bought a supply of the medicines that we so desperately needed. Now we could see our patient’s health improve, instead of praying that they survive.

Miss Emily Hobhouse did not stay for long, but the changes she bought about changed all of our lives for the better, and if only for that, I salute her!

When she left to return to London, she promised that she would see that more medicines were sent on the first available ship. She was appalled at the number of lives that had been lost, both among the Boer inmates and the British troops.

It is a little-Known fact that during the Boer war more troops died of illness and poor care than were killed or wounded in the conflict. With the correct medicines now made available to us, many of our bed-ridden would have a chance of survival.

And all of this was due to the crusading spirit of one very charitable lady, God bless her. On her return to London, her report on the conditions in South Africa almost bought down the Government of the time.

(C) Damian Grange 2019