Air Aces of World War One




Photograph – Courtesy of Pinterest

Count Francesco Baracca – Italy’s No.1 Ace 1888 / 1918 Pt 2


The Nieuport 11 single seat fighter, armed with 2 lewis guns entered Italian service in April 1916. And on the 7th of April flying this aircraft, Baracca scored his 1st victory, holing the fuel tank of a Hansa Brandenberg C1 and wounding both of the crew. This was Italy’s first aerial victory of the war. This 1st victory featured his favourite manoeuvre, which was to zoom in unseen behind and below an enemy and then fire at close range.

It was a little later that Baracca, now flying a Nieuport 17 adopted as his personal emblem, the black prancing horse in tribute to his former cavalry regiment. This prompted some of the Tabloids to dub him, ‘Cavalier of the Skies’ flying the Nieuport 17 and then from March 1917, The Spad VII, he scored both individually, and in combination with other Italian aces.

Baracca’s second victory was an Austrian Lohner over Gorizia on April 1916, after his third victory he was transferred to 70a Squadriglia. Promoted to Capitano, Baracca remained with this unit until with 9 victories, he was transferred to The newly-formed 91st Squadriglia, known as the ‘Squadron of the Aces’ on 1st May 1917. By that time his ever increasing list of victories had made him nationally famous. Whilst he had initially dodged the responsibilities and paperwork that went with command, he finally settled in to heading the squadron.

Baracca’s friend and Ace Fulco Ruffio di Calabria, came close to ending Baracca’s career, and life in June 1917, Fulco burst out of a cloud firing in a head-on pass at a enemy aircraft barely missing Baracca’s aircraft. Later on the ground Baracca assured his companion, ‘Dear Fulco, next time if you want to shoot me down, aim a couple of metres to the right, now lets go for a drink and not talk about it any more.’

To Be Continued …………

(C) Damian Grange 2018

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 56 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 56 )

  Some people say that life is a learning curve, I wonder if poor Mary has learnt anything by her mistakes, or is she still wondering, totally oblivious to the nightmare that she has bought down on herself and her friends. Ah! well, ignorance is bliss, is something they also say.

And now that ‘Polly’ is safely settled in her grave, I suppose I must make a decision as to who is to be next in my little parade of cadavers, decisions, decisions, it will be soon.

One thing I am certain of, it will be soon I wish to keep up the terror for my chosen victims. The more desperate they become, the more they become putty in my hands. I will make my selection and send McGinty to seek her out, and hopefully this time I will have ample time to do my best or worst, all depending on your viewpoint.

I decided on Annie Chapman, I would be doing her a favour, she was suffering from Tuberculosis and I also suspected she had Syphilis, so she hadn’t long to live, why prolong the agony when I can end it for her. It is a Christian thing to do, to end a miserable life.

It would also test Abberline’s mettle, I am really enjoying our little game. I know that he suspects me, along with others, but as yet he has not a smidgin of proof, nor will he have. For a Policeman, He is very astute, but is that enough!

(C) Damian Grange 2018

Zombies by the Sea – Excerpt 16

Zombies by the Sea – Excerpt 16

  Of course Dave Knowles had no inkling of this. He was about to discover that there was one more perk on offer than he had bargained for, if Samira had her way, and she fully intended too.

At the same time as Samira was having her erotic daydreams, three of the senior girls of the Littlehampton Academy were having a crafty fag behind the bike shed and discussing the merits of their boyfriends. Jane Mullen, who was probably the most forward of them was having a relationship with one of the Mayor’s transient employees. They were meeting at the Arcade where he was employed, then back to his caravan to drink, smoke weed and on occasion, have sex.

Jane was trying hard to persuade one of her mates to go with her, two boys shared the caravan, and much as she enjoyed sex, she wasn’t about to take on two of them. Sally Dobbs, a busty blonde was wavering, she wasn’t the brightest so she shouldn’t take much convincing. The mention of booze, weed and sex quite quickly aroused her interest. they agreed to meet up that night and give it a go, after all they had nothing to lose, their virginity had already been given away, even though they were only sixteen.

The Council meeting to promote the Zombie Weekend was just about to commence, but as per usual, The Mayor was not in attendance, he no doubt had pressing Council Business elsewhere!

(C) Damian Grange 2018

Cursed Through the Generations – Excerpt 9

Cursed Through the Generations – Excerpt 9

  On arrival at their new home, the staff were gathered to welcome them, The Cook / Housekeeper Mrs Trimble, her husband George, who doubled as Butler and Valet to Robert, there were two young local girls employed as housemaids, they were called Elsie and Josie, both young and pretty, Robert immediately took a liking to them, There was also a Groom/ Gardener named Joe and a scullery maid called Ivy.

They all wished their new Master and Mistress Congratulations and good wishes for the future, then they left and went about their duties. Adeline said that she would retire for the night and pleaded with Robert to join her, he replied that he would just have a sherry, then he would join her.

He rang the service bell, and Josie appeared, ‘May I be of service, Sir?’ she asked politely. ‘I’m sure you can, will you get me a sweet sherry, please! Josie, isn’t it?’ he enquired smiling kindly at her. ‘Yes, sir! I am Josie,’ she replied. ‘And how old are you Josie, may I ask?’ he queried. ‘I’m seventeen, nearly eighteen, sir,’ she replied. ‘Well Josie, you are a very pretty girl,’ he stated giving her a winning smile.

‘That’s very kind of you to say so, sir,’ she said colouring slightly. ‘You are blushing?’ he said, ‘ I’m sure I’m not the first man to tell you. you are pretty, I’ll bet lots of boys have told you so?’ ‘ Boys, yes! but you are a man, and my Master.

‘And what would you say, if that same Master wanted to kiss you?’ He asked. ‘He is my Master I would have no choice but to do as he asks,’ she replied smiling and blushing even more.

(C) Damian Grange 2018


Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 55 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 55 )

  A day or so later I was perusing the tabloids over breakfast, when I saw that today the funeral of ‘Polly’ Nichols was taking place. I decided that although she was an occasional patient of mine, it would be unwise for me to appear there. Abberline was no fool, he would no doubt have men there recording the comings and goings in the hope that the Ripper might show himself. In his position I would have done the same.

I wonder if Mary and her dwindling bunch of friends will dare to show their faces. I would imagine that by now they are beginning to be a little concerned about who might be next. But they have no need to be concerned, I will decide in due course.

Mary Jane Kelly’s diary 6th September 1888

Me and the girls went to ‘Polly’s’ funeral this morning, it was awful. We were all looking at each other and wondering who would be next. There were lots of people there, is he among them, our nemisis , deciding who will be his next victim? I don’t want to leave the safety of my room at night, but I have no choice, I need to earn a few pence to live, If you can call this living, waiting for the Ripper to end your life. The worst of it is not one of the girls has a clue to who we are being persecuted by. What have we done other than try to earn a meagre living on the streets. Is it some religious nutter or are the pimps trying to teach us some kind of lesson. Oh! Jack, if i ever needed you, I need you now, what a damned fool I have been!

(C) Damian Grange 2018


Air Aces of World War One

Francesco barracaCount Francesco Baracca – Italy’s No.1 Ace 1888/1918

Francesco Baracca was born in Lugo di Romagna in Italy on the 9th of May 1888. He was the son of a wealthy Landowner. The young Baracca studied at a private school in Florence, before entering the Military Academy of Modena in 1907, at 19 years of age.

As an antidote to classroom boredom, he became a keen horseman. He became a cavalry man with the prestigious Piemonte Reale Cavalleria Regiment upon his commissioning in 1910 aged 22. His first duty station allowed him to attend concerts and the Opera in Rome as well  pursuing hunting and equestrian competitions; He gained some fame as an equestrian. This idyll was spoilt by a transfer to a small town in central Italy. Baracca then became interested in Aviation.

He learned to fly at Reims, France and received his Pilot’s licence on 9th July 1912. He then served with the Battaglione  Aviatori and in 1914 with the 5th and 6th Squadriglia. During the months Before the outbreak of World war One, There was intense political controversy between pro-war and pro-peace factions. Baracca remained aloofly neutral but ready to serve his country, should the need arise.

After Italy’s entry in to the war on the Allies side in May 1915 he was sent to Paris to train on Nieuport 10 two-seaters.Upon his return in July he was transferred to the 8a Squadrilgia Nieuport. The Nieuport 10’s that equipped this Squadron were virtually useless against Austro- Hungarian raids, the Nieuports were too slow, with too slow a rate of climb to bring the intruders to battle with any regularity. the frustrated Italian pilots even took to flying without observers to gain a little speed, but with little success.

To Be Continued………..

(C) Damian Grange 2018

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 54 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 54 )

  ‘What can I do to prevent him killing again, I am already under pressure to apprehend him, as you know the tabloids are making a meal of this!’ Abberline asked my advice.

‘I think the only real answer lies in more men on the ground, check points, stop and search, if nothing else it will cause the local villains to lie low. Oh! and while we are on the subject, just a point I would like to raise with you, if I am going to be assisting you with this affair would it be possible for you to issue me with some sort of authorisation to say as much, as you are aware I am out visiting my patients at all hours of the day and night, Most of the local Police know me, but if you are drafting in reinforcements from other divisions it could be quite embarrassing as I often have bloody instruments in my bag. I prefer to sterilise them at home where I have the necessary equipment, I don’t want to seem pushy, but I am sure you can see my predicament?’ I stated.

Abberline smiled, ‘If I did not know you, Doctor, it would be out of the question, but as we have already established that we have a similar train of thought regarding our perpetrator I don’t see it as a problem, just bear with me a moment.’ So saying he took a notebook from out of his inside pocket and wrote me an authorisation to pass through Police lines as I was assisting with the case. He handed it to me and said, ‘Until I require your services again, Doctor, and keep your ears to the ground for local gossip, I’m interested in anything relevant to this case. I took my leave and returned home.

After the Doctor had left, Abberline returned to his office and sat fiddling with his moustache, a habit he had formed when a problem required attention. Had he given in to the Doctor’s request too easily? Why did the Doctor need  authorisation? Why was he thinking like this, he liked the man, he had given him the answers he required, albeit in his own way, and in any case I already had the answers, I just sought confirmation. This is stupid, I’m jousting at windmills, I’ll be suspecting myself next, the Doctor can’t be the Ripper, he’s far too good a man!

(C) Damian Grange 2018



Zombies by the Sea – Excerpt 15

Zombies by the Sea – Excerpt 15

  Unfortunately no one had thought to consult with the townsfolk of Littlehampton, who virtually to a man or woman, if you count the ladies of the Women’s Institute. The Council may well be surprised at the amount of resistance there is. They may think its a done deal, but the people think differently, Zombie’s enter Littlehampton at your peril! you may find the reception a trifle warmer than you expected, you may find your reception a little heated, even unwelcoming.

Dave Knowles was keeping busy on the ‘phone, he needed to get his 50 or so Zombies organised for the Littlehampton Weekend. The bulk of his contacts were like himself, film and tv extras, who to earn extra money attended events like the coming Weekend. When you earned a precarious living, as most of them did, a Weekend away all found was something of a godsend, even somewhere as dire as Littlehampton no doubt was. Dave had used up the majority of his contacts, but he wasn’t too concerned, he was a few short of his total, but once the word got passed around, he knew he would have an excess of offers.

Samira Patel, Sanjay’s eldest daughter was in a state of sexual excitement, as a devoted fan of all things Zombie, she had developed something of a crush on Dave Knowles. Even more so, now that she had read in his blog he was offered a part in the Michael Jackson ‘Thriller’ video but had to turn it down due to visa problems. Samira, although she had been brought up to be modest and virtuous in the Eastern fashion. But when it came down to sexual feelings and men, she could be just as predatory and forthright as any of her English friends. She may often dress modestly in Eastern dress but her thoughts were more of the miniskirt and no knickers variety.

(C) Damian Grange 2018


Cursed Through the Generations – Excerpt 8

Cursed Through The Generations – Excerpt 8

  The best man arrived, and all was ready, the coach stood waiting outside to convey him to the church. All of his plans were coming to fruition, Despite the minor setback with his ex mistress, Jane.

All he had to do was turn up at the church, smile and go through the motions of the ever – attentive groom and all his money problems were over.

When his Bride arrived on the arm of her Father, he felt a slight tinge of remorse, if only it could have been Jane? but she was gone, finished by his own hand, so he would just have to make the best of it.

He turned and smiled as if her were happy to see his Bride and nodded politely to acknowledge her Father, the wedding ceremony  went without a hitch, Robert played his part to perfection. But to him, it wasn’t a marriage more a means to an end, a profitable end.

He winged it throughout the Reception, taking care to avoid anyone that might cause him embarrassment of any description, His behaviour might be under close scrutiny by his new Wife’s relatives. His behaviour must be beyond reproach in their eyes. He could not afford any mistakes, not on this day of all days.

As soon as was considered decent, by the rules of Polite Society, today he must abide by them. Robert and his ecstatically happy Bride said their farewells to their invited guests and left the Reception, For the short carriage drive to their new home, which was ready and awaiting them.

(C) Damian Grange 2018


Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 53 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 53 )

  ‘And what of our perpetrator, what kind of man are we looking for?’ asked Abberline. ‘Well, he, I do believe its a man, has anatomical knowledge, possibly a medical student or something similar, he has some knowledge of surgical techniques, every one of the cuts to her abdomen were made not to kill but to make her die in intense pain. The slitting of her throat was I believe done with a Liston Knife, a knife favoured, its a knife favoured by Surgeons and Doctors, I have one myself!’ I thought I would answer his question, before he made it.

‘Pretty much everything you have said thus far substantiates my own suspicions, That is the reason I wanted my own man on this case. I know this may sound biased, but they come down here slumming and lauding it over us just because they have a Harley Street Address. The real truth of the matter is they don’t give a damn about Whitechapel or its inhabitants,’ Stated Abberline with conviction, and I had to agree with him.

‘Is there anything more you can add to your conclusions?’ asked the Inspector. ‘Yes!, if I’m right and I believe I am ‘Polly Nichols was his first victim. I imagine he is a little annoyed with himself, He made a very poor job of slitting her throat, he won’t like that at all, to my mind he’s a perfectionist, meticulous in everything he does, and that includes murder.’

‘You talk as if you know the man?’ queried Abberline. ‘Not the man personally, but the type of man I see committing this type of crime, and, by the way, he will kill again and soon. He will not be at all happy about the way he dispatched poor ‘Polly’ there will be another, he won’t be able to resist the urge.’ I stated confidently, If I don’t know, who does?

(C) Damian Grange 2018