Air Aces of World War One


Captain Albert Ball V.C. – British Ace 1896 / 1917 Pt.2

  In June 1915, Ball decided to take private flying lessons at Hendon Aerodrome, which would in turn give him an outlet for his interest in engineering and also possibly help him to see some action in France sooner. He paid to undertake training at the Ruffy – Baumann School which charged £75 – £100 for instruction which in those days was a major investment. Ball would wake at 3.00 a.m. to ride his motorcycle to the Flying School for flying practice at dawn, before beginning his daily military duties at 6.45 a.m. his training at Ruffy – Baumann was not unique, Edwin Cole was learning to fly there at the same time. In his letters to home, Ball recorded that he found flying “great sport”

Although considered an average pilot at best, by his instructors. Ball qualified for his Royal Aero Club Certificate No.1898 on the 15th of October 1915 and promptly requested a transfer to the Royal Flying Corps. He was seconded to No.9 ( Reserve ) Squadron R.F.C. on the 23rd of October and trained at Mousehold Heath Aerodrome near Norwich. In the first week of December he soloed in a Maurice Farman Longhorn after standing duty all night, and his touchdown was rough. When his instructor commented sarcastically on the landing, Ball angrily exclaimed that he had only had 15minutes experience with the plane, and if this was the best instruction he was going to get he would return to his previous unit. The instructor relented, and Ball then soloed again and landed successfully in five consecutive flights. His rough landing was not the last Ball was involved in, He survived two others. He completed his training at Central Flying School, Upavon and was awarded his pilots wings on 22nd of January 1916. A week later he was officially transferred from the North Midlands Cyclists Company to the R.F.C. as a pilot.

To Be Continued……………….

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 181 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 181 )

  I was delighted by his reply, it would appear that in James Cameron I had found the Junior Partner that I was seeking. I enquired, ‘How soon can you move in and begin practicing?’

‘I have booked into a hotel overnight, so with your permission I will move in tomorrow morning after breakfast if that is not inconvenient?’ He replied.

‘That will be just perfect, I will tell Mrs Mc Ginty to air a room for you, once you are settled in, I will show you around and explain your duties. ‘The remainder of the staff will be here on Monday, you have met Jenny briefly, but I will introduce you properly.’ I explained.

‘What may I call you?’ He asked. ‘Jack is fine or if patients are present Doctor Jack, likewise I shall call you James or Doctor James as circumstances dictate.’ I replied.

‘If you have no objections I would prefer to be addressed as Jimmy or Jim, James is a little formal, I want to be accessible to my patients.’

I liked his attitude, he thought on his feet, and I had the feeling that he was just exactly what my practice needed.

(C) Damian Grange 2019


Karlstadt – The Return Excerpt 6

Karlstadt – The Return  Excerpt 6

  My Father had been in contact with the British Consul in Sevastopol, relationships with the Russians were still a little strained, but it was considered safe for us to travel there. My Father arranged for the purchase of three good horses to be waiting at the Consulate for our arrival.

The Russians should not present a problem as we had no plans to stay in Sevastopol any longer than deemed necessary. Our plan was to follow basically the same route that my Father had taken many years previously. To this end he had supplied us with maps of the Carpathians, which clearly showed the route to Karlstadt. To two seasoned campaigners like Jock and myself, finding it should be easy, Its what happened then that might be the hard part.

We left that weekend, with the fond regards of my Mother and Father ringing in our ears. I felt bad about having to deceive my Mother, but my Father had assured me that it was a necessary evil, at least until I had visited Karlstadt and its castle.

Neither Jock nor I were very good sailors, I suppose as sea voyages go it was uneventful enough, but we both preferred the feel of dry land under our feet, whoever’s it was. As soon as we had docked and unloaded our possessions safely, We asked for directions to the British Consulate. Unbeknown to us, they had despatched a man to meet us, who soon made himself known. That immediately solved the language difficulty, he spoke Russian like a native.

(C) Damian Grange 2019


The Diamond King – Excerpt 14

The Diamond King – Excerpt 14

  I arose early, ate a little breakfast, then fed and watered my horse, then said my farewells to the township and set off to thank Mynheer de Klerk. It was a pleasant morning and I enjoyed the ride, why would I not, I had a small fortune in uncut diamonds at my waist and the prospect of finding their source and becoming even richer.

The township and my unfinished business could wait until I was ready to return there, at the moment I had more pressing matters to attend to.

I rode over to Mynheer de Klerk’s place of business and knocked on the door, it was opened by a smiling Henrik, who I was pleased to see looked none the worse for his ordeal. I gave his Father my grateful thanks for sending men out to search for me, he replied, ‘You gave up your horse and canteen of water to save my son’s life, it was the very least I could do.’

‘I am delighted that Henrik made it home safe and sound, I would hate to think of him perishing out in the veldt. Now that we have the pleasantries out of the way, I have a little business to discuss with you, a little diamond business.

I noticed that the moment I mentioned diamonds I had Mynheer de Klerk’s full attention. I unhooked the pouch belt, opened it and slowly poured its contents on to the table. For a few moments the silence was overwhelming then Mynheer de Klerk asked, ‘What is it that you require from me, you have aroused my interest?’

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 180 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 180 )

  I felt extremely flattered and slightly embarrassed by his compliments, I had never pictured myself in the guise of role model. But in a way he was correct, I was looking for someone with attitudes similar to my own and James certainly seemed to possess them.

I made a spur of the moment decision and decided to offer him the position, he was not perfect but he had shown a willingness to learn and he was by far the better of my applicants.

I enquired, ‘ If I offered you this position, have you somewhere to live in London?’ ‘I may have misunderstood, but I was under the impression that I would be residing at the surgery, have I made a dreadful mistake?’ was his concerned reply.

‘Not at all, I can get Mrs McGinty to sort out a room for you and you may have your meals with me, if that is not an inconvenience, but of course that will be taken from your salary,’ I stated.

‘I find that very agreeable, I made some enquiries about the price of rooms in London and I had thought that it might become a problem.’ he stated honestly.

‘Right! back to business, how would you feel if for starters I offered you a fifth of the net profit that the surgery makes, less your room and board, this is for an initial twelve months then I will review it. But please be aware that I do free clinics for the poor and needy for which the surgery receives no income,’ I wanted no secrets between us.

‘I do believe that you mentioned that fact in your advertisement, and I am all for it, everyone should have access to Medical treatment no matter what their income.’ he agreed.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Air Aces of World War One


Albert Ball

Captain Albert Ball V.C. – British Ace 1896 / 1917

  Albert Ball was born on the 14th of August 1896 at a house on Lenton Boulevard, Lenton, Nottingham. After a series of moves throughout the area the family settled at Sedgley in Lenton Road. His parents were Albert Ball Snr, a successful businessman who rose from employment as a plumber to become Lord Mayor of Nottingham, and who was later knighted, and Harriet Mary Page, his Mother. The young Albert had two siblings, a brother and a sister. His parents were considered both loving and indulgent. In his youth Albert had a small shed in the back garden, where he tinkered with engines and electrical equipment. He was raised with a knowledge of firearms, and conducted target practice in Sedgley’s gardens. Possessed of keen vision he soon became an crack shot. He was also deeply religious, however this did not curb his enthusiasm for such boyhood pursuits as steeple jacking. On his 16th birthday he accompanied a workman to the top of a tall factory chimney and strolled about totally unconcerned by the height.

Ball studied at the Lenton Church School, The Kings School, Grantham and The Nottingham High School before transferring to Trent College in January 1911, at the age of 14, as a student he displayed only average ability, but was able to develop his curiosity for all things mechanical. His best subjects were carpentry, modelling, music and photography. He also served in the Officer’s Training Corps. When Albert left School in December 1913, aged 17, his Father helped him  gain employment at the Universal Engineering Works near the family home.

Following the outbreak of war in August 1914, Ball enlisted in the British Army, joining the 2 / 7th ( Robin Hood ) Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters ( Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment ). Soon promoted to Sergeant, he gained his commission as a second lieutenant on the 29th of October 1914. He was assigned to the training of recruits, but this rear echelon role frustrated him. In an attempt to see action, he transferred to the early the following year to the North Midlands Cyclist Company, Divisional Mounted Troops but remained confined to a posting in England. On the 24th of February 1917, he wrote to his parents, “I have just sent five boys to France, and I hear they will be in the firing line on Monday, it is just my luck to be unable to go.

To Be Continued…………………

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 179 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 179 )

  He was a little hesitant at first, which I put down to nerves, but he soon relaxed and explained his reasons, both for becoming a physician and wishing to become my Junior.

His work at Medical school, of which he showed me some samples, was clear and concise, he was quite obviously conversant with the subjects dealt with. To me that showed interest in the subject and a willingness to learn, then two things I would insist upon in my Junior.

He also admitted his weaknesses and failings, he was totally candid with me a fact that I both respected and appreciated. Thus far I liked what he had to say.

I interrupted his flow of rhetoric to ask the question Why Whitechapel, why me? he appeared to pause for a moment to get his thoughts in order then stated, ‘Whitechapel is for the most part slum dwellings where pestilence thrives, Whitechapel needs dedicated Doctors.’ I liked what I heard, I sensed the touch of the zealot about him.

‘And me!’ I repeated, ‘Why me?’ ‘Because I have read and studied all of your dissertations in the Medical Press and you are the kind of forward thinking Doctor that I myself would seek to emulate, and I say this in all honesty, not to curry favour in any way with you.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Karlstadt – The Return Excerpt 5

Karlstadt – The Return  Excerpt 5

  My Father also swore me to secrecy about the mission that I was about to embark on, under no circumstances was my Mother to be made aware of our destination. To her knowledge Jock and myself were just travelling on horseback through France and Germany. I can’t pretend that I understood the reason for all this secrecy, but I would honour my Father’s wishes.

Once my Father was convinced of all the perils that could possibly befall us on our mission. He allowed me to contact Jock to see if he was prepared to join me. I stated that if he was in agreement I would brief him when he arrived at me home. Where he would be a welcome guest until we departed for our mission.

I received a communication by return that Jock was in, and he would be joining us later in the week, it appeared with this news that the mission was now definitely on.. We would leave as soon as Jock was briefed. It was summer in the Carpathians, the ideal time for what we had planned.

Jock came up with an interesting suggestion, why not take some explosives, say a couple of small kegs of gunpowder, so that if we found the creatures hiding place and destroyed it. We could then blow it back to hell from whence it came.

Both my Father and I approved the idea, we were planning on having a pack horse so the kegs would be of no inconvenience to us on the journey. And so it would appear we were all set to go.

(C) Damian Grange 2019


The Diamond King – Excerpt 13

The Diamond King – Excerpt 13

  ‘I’m so sorry that you feel that way, can’t we persuade you to stay?’ she pleaded.’ There is nothing here for me now, I came back for you, but you obviously did not have enough faith in me, you were all that I thought about while I was away, what a waste of effort.’ I stated intending to hurt her as she and Maartens had hurt me.

Tears were streaming down her face, but I no longer cared, she had betrayed me and I was done with her, as for her husband I would settle with him in due course, in my own way. ‘Must you leave so soon,’ she pleaded,’ You have only just returned.’

‘Your husband has gambled away what little gold I had left, so I have no reason at all to stay in this place, I once thought of it as home, but no more, I will leave first thing in the morning, have a good life.’ I said with more than a trace of irony.

I could sense her struggling to piece together the words to make me stay, but she was too late, I was already walking out the door. I would return and deal with her husband in due course.

I walked my horse to my shack and tied him to the hitching post and walked inside, as I expected there was little left. I salvaged enough to fashion myself a place to rest, After serving three years with the Commando I didn’t need luxuries. I settled down and slept, once I had arranged my thoughts in some sort of order.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 178 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 178 )

  The following day I received a telegram, stating that he could make himself available on Friday, but it would have to be the afternoon as he had to travel down from Yorkshire. I telegraphed back, saying that Friday afternoon would be fine and I was looking forward to meeting him.

When Friday came around, I will admit to a little more than anticipation. If this young man lived up to my expectations, all of my immediate problems would be resolved. I instructed Jenny to show him through to me, the moment he arrived. I had no sooner issued the instruction, than Jenny ushered him in to my presence.

He was not quite what I had expected, he was tall, very softly spoken for a big man, but I think the thing that struck me most about his appearance were his eyes, they were the softest cornflower blue. And to me they appeared to be full of compassion and humour.

He had a good strong handshake and good eye contact, both of which to me spoke of confidence in himself. I liked him on sight, but obviously there was more than that to a partnership, but it was a promising start.

I offered him a seat, and asked him to tell me a little about himself, his experience as a Doctor and why he thought himself suitable to become my Junior partner.

(C) Damian Grange 2019