Air Aces of World War One

Picture – Courtesy of Google

Captain Albert Ball V.C – British Ace 1896 / 1917 Pt. 6

  Ball then took leave in England, his feats in France had won considerable publicity. He was the first British ace to become a household name, and discovered that his fame was such that he could not walk down the streets of Nottingham without being stopped and congratulated. Prior to this the British Government had suppressed the names of its aces in contrast to the policies of the French and Germans who unashamedly used them for propaganda purposes, but the losses of the Battle of the Somme, which had commenced in July made it politic to publicise our successes in the air. Ball’s achievements had a profound impact on budding flyer Mick Mannock, who later became Britain’s top-scoring ace and also a Victoria Cross recipient.

Upon his return to No.60 Squadron in France, Ball scored morning and evening victories on the 15th of September flying two different Nieuports, on the evening mission he armed his aircraft with eight Le Prieur rockets, fitted to the outer wing struts and designed to fire electronically. He intended to use them on an observation balloon. As it happened he spotted a formation of three Roland CII’s and broke their formation by salvoing his rockets at them, then downed one of the aircraft with machine – gun fire. After this exploit he settled in to an improved aircraft Nieuport 17 A.213. he had it rigged to fly tail – heavy to facilitate his changing of ammunition drums in the machine-gun, and had a holster built in to the cockpit for the Colt automatic pistol that he habitually carried. Three times during September he scored triple victories in a day, ending the month with his total score standing at 31 making him Britain’s top – scoring ace. By this time he had told his Commanding Officer that he had to have a rest and that he was taking unnecessary risks because of his nerves. On the 3rd of October he was sent on leave, en route to a posting at Home Establishment in England.

To Be Continued……………….

(C) Damian Grange 2019


Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 189 )

Jack the Ripper _ A Love Story ( Excerpt 189 )

  I delegated the selection of the Nursing Sisters to my newly promoted Matron. I had briefed her fully on what I required from them, The rest I would leave to her experience.

Once the Sisters were selected, they in turn would choose the Nurse’s who would be working under them. In this fashion I hoped somehow to forge a strong team.

When the selection process was almost completed, I hosted a meeting of my senior staff, that included Doctors, Matron and Nursing Sisters.

I explained as best I could how I expected the hospital to be run. I did not wish to set myself up as a martinet, but no matter what the circumstance’s I would insist that the patient’s treatment and welfare came first above all other precedents. I then threw the meeting open for questions as I am sure there would be many.

One of the surgeons opened the questions, ‘With respect, Major, have you any practical experience of running a Field Hospital of this kind?’ ‘I would like to think so, I was a resident at Concentration Camp No.1 at Bloemfontien in the Boer conflict. I was also Doctor in residence at the Whitechapel Infirmary for a number of years. But, with regards to your question, the honest answer is no! until we arrive in France or wherever and set up shop we have no idea what we shall be facing and I would be a liar to say otherwise. ‘Thank you for your honesty Sir, replied the Doctor.

  (C) Damian Grange 2019


The Diamond King – Excerpt 15

The Diamond King – Excerpt 15

  They were both grinning thinking that I had walked in to their trap, little knowing that they had stumbled headlong in to mine. Because I had every intention of exacting my revenge out there on the veldt. Four would be leaving, but only two would be returning or at least the way I had planned it.

The following day, we set off at daybreak, Maartens and Nathan taking turns to drive the wagon and Henrik and myself blazing the trail on horseback. This way I could always keep a little way in front of them and possibly locate the source of the diamonds without their knowledge.

The only disadvantage with this course of action, was that whilst they were together they would also be plotting on how to get their own hands on the diamonds and their source, but it was a chance I had to take.

I had every intention of disposing of the two of them, but for the moment I pretended to have no idea of their intentions toward myself and Henrik, but I was aware that they were also biding their time, until we were deeper in to the veldt.

When we stopped to make camp for the night, around the campfire it was all good natured camaraderie, but I don’t think I was fooled, anymore than I was fooling them. It was all pretence, we all knew how high the stakes were.

It was at night that I was my most cautious, we were for the most part apart during the day. If they planned to make a move on me, it would happen during the night of that I was certain.

(C) Damian Grange 2019


Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 188 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 188 )

  I experienced little difficulty in selecting my Doctors, unlike the Boer conflict there was no shortage of volunteers. I suspect in some part due to the fact that we are now a Corps within the Army Establishment with equivalent ranks and pay structures.

I selected five Doctors, three of them young surgeons, all hospital trained so used to a variety of tasks in their chosen field. The situation we were to be placed in, I felt it better to be a jack of all trades than a master of one. Once the hospital was up and running who knew what would arrive on a daily basis to test our skills.

The other two were just journeymen Doctors, who I felt with the aid of the nursing staff could cope with the walking wounded and less crucial cases.

The Matron I chose surprised a few people, she came to me as a senior sister, but I was so impressed by her attitude when I interviewed her that I offered her the Matron’s post. She was very flattered that I was prepared to place my trust in her, but reluctant to accept the post because of her age, she was in her late thirties.

But once I had explained that one of the reasons why I had selected her was because of her age, she accepted but still I felt, somewhat reluctantly. I wanted a young team around me, I needed the energy and the willingness to try new things. I had no time for people who might falter come the first problem.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Air Aces of World War One

aball collage

Captain Albert Ball V.C. – British Ace 1896 / 1917 Pt.5

  Ball then requested a few days off, but to his dismay, He was temporarily re-assigned to aerial reconnaissance duty with No. 8 Squadron. Where he flew B.E.2’s from the 18th of July until the 14th of August. During this posting Ball undertook an unusual mission, he flew a French espionage agent across enemy lines. Dodging an attack by three German fighters, as well as anti-aircraft fire, he landed in a deserted field, only to find that the agent refused to get out  of the aircraft. While he was on reconnaissance duties with No.8 Squadron, The London Gazette announced he had been awarded the Military Cross, “For conspicuous skill and gallantry on many occasions” particularly for one occasion when he attacked six enemy aircraft in one flight.” Throughout his career this was not unusual, Ball generally attacked on sight of the enemy, regardless of the odds. He professed no hatred for his opponents, writing to his parents he stated,” I only scrap because it is my duty …. nothing makes me feel more rotten than to see them go down, but you see it is either them or me, so I must do my duty best to make it a case of them.”

Ball’s 20th birthday was marked by his promotion to temporary captain and his return to No.11 Squadron. He destroyed three Roland C.II’s in one sortie on the 22nd of August 1916, the first RFC pilot to do so. He ended the day by fighting 14 German aircraft some 15 miles behind their lines. With his aircraft badly damaged and out of fuel he struggled back to Allied lines to land. He transferred with a cadre of No.11 Squadron to No. 60 Sqn. on the 23rd of August 1916. His new commanding officer gave Ball free rein to fly solo missions, and assigned him his own personal aircraft and maintenance crew. One of the squadron mechanics painted up a non-standard red propeller boss; A201 became the first of Ball’s aircraft to be fitted with this boss. He found that it helped his fellow squadron members to identify his aircraft and in doing so confirm his combat claims. By the end of the month he had increased his victory tally to 17 enemy aircraft.

To Be Continued …………..

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 187 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 187 )

  The next two weeks where a whirl of activity, Both to get the surgery re-organised using just James and the two girls. With the amount of men that would soon be enlisting to fight in the forthcoming war they should be able to cope adequately.

James was unhappy because he would have liked to serve with me, but as I explained to him as best I could, his services would still be needed albeit on the home front.

Colonel Goodhew had given me complete autonomy with regard s to selecting the staff that I required for my field hospital. Therefore I was spending most of my time closeted in my office perusing the applications of other Doctors, Matrons and Nursing Sisters.

It was not an easy task I was looking for people who could think on their feet and respond to any emergency, no matter what it entailed. we were venturing in to a conflict where new and powerful weapons would be in use, including possible chemical weapons.

The people that I select have to be prepared for anything that the enemy may throw at them, in terms of the amount of wounded and the horrendous wounds they may have received. If at all possible, it would be useful to have one or two multi-lingual members of staff for we will treat all casualties, regardless of race, colour or religion.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Karlstadt – The Return Excerpt 9

Karlstadt – The Return Excerpt 9

  We halted, in the early evening whilst it was still light, I erected the tent while Jock collected wood for the fire. We fed and watered the horses, then began to cook ourselves a meal.

It bought back some fond memories of when we were on campaign and had to rough it. We laughed over shared memories, we could afford too, we were survivors, some other’s weren’t so lucky.

We had an uneventful night and the following day after we had breakfasted and saddled the horses and reloaded the pack – horse, We struck camp and continued on our way. Up till now, we were both enjoying our trek through the Carpathians, neither of us had ridden horses on a regular basis. We were Infantrymen and as such relied on our feet, marching from place to place, it was quite a luxury to be carried there, we both felt quite spoilt.

We continued on like this until the fifth day. On that day we fell foul of some brigands, or rather they fell foul of us. We had both spotted the three men trailing us and the obsolete muskets they carried. At the next fork in the road Jock peeled off so that he could get behind them.

I, sensing some kind of confrontation carried my rifle cradled in my arms with my finger on the trigger, we had been in these sort of situations before in our military service, I guessed there would be more of them ahead of me.

(C) Damian Grange 2019


The Diamond King – Excerpt 14

The Diamond King – Excerpt 14

  ‘And have you proof that this mine exists?’ asked Maartens, I had him on my hook, I knew full well that his greed would betray him. I reached in to my pack, ‘Of course I have diamonds, these few are from the mine.’ I said placing them on the table.

‘I think I know someone who might be interested in investing to the sum of two oxen.’ offered Maartens. ‘Well, can you arrange a meeting with him?’ I asked. ‘No need, he is already here. My plan had worked, I knew that he meant Nathan but I played dumb. ‘So, tell him to present himself, or is he shy?’

‘Nathan can you come over here, Hans has a business proposition for you, that might be worth your while?’ The Jew strutted over from behind the bar, where he was washing glasses. ‘So, what is this proposition?’ he asked in his guttural accent.

‘I am looking for someone to invest two oxen in return for shares in a Diamond mine.’ I stated. ‘If I should provide these oxen, how big a share do I get?’ as I expected he had taken my bait, with certain people greed will always triumph over caution.

‘I was thinking five percent, I have another investor who has supplied me with a wagon, two oxen and a months supplies, can you better that?’ ‘For seven and a half percent you get the two best oxen in the township and Maartens and myself will accompany you and assist with the search.’ He stated eagerly.

And I was thinking to myself, and the moment I locate the diamonds, both Henrik and myself will have unfortunate accidents and you will have my diamond mine, Nathan you are so obvious. I smiled and said,’ I will shake on that, I could use a little extra help.’

(C) Damian Grange 2019


Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 186 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 186 )

  The Colonel’s words had left me stunned, I was dismayed to learn that once again man was going to war against his fellow man. But this time on a larger scale with deadlier more powerful weapons.

There was no decision to make, of course I would re -join the Medical Corps, I was confident that the time I was away serving my country, my younger partner could with the help of his two assistants keep the practice ticking over. If the colonel’s information was correct and I had little doubt on that score.

I asked him when he was likely to need me? his answer once again surprised me, ‘There is at this moment an Army that is currently forming, they will be going to either France or Belgium to assist our European allies. It would appear that the enemy is Germany, Austro – Hungary and the Ottoman Empire.’

‘Our allies are France, Belgium, Italy and Russia, all the colonies are sending troops, who will be fighting in the various theatres of war. At the moment the Americans are neutral, but I can’t see them sitting on the fence for long.’

I was stunned, all these momentous events were happening almost on my doorstep and I had no inclination. I would once again volunteer, I saw no choice in the matter, I was sorely needed and so I would go.

(C) Damian Grange 2019


Air Aces of World War One


Picture – Courtesy of Pinterest

Captain Albert Ball V.C. – British Ace 1896 / 1917 Pt.4

  Throughout his flying service Ball was primarily a “lone wolf” pilot, stalking his prey from below until he drew close enough to use his top-wing Lewis gun on its Foster mounting angled to fire upwards into the enemy’s fuselage. According to fellow Ace and Victoria Cross recipient James McCudden, “It was quite an art to pull this gun down and shoot upwards, and at the same time manage one’s machine accurately.” Ball was as much a loner on the ground as in the air, preferring to stay in his hut on the flight line away from other Squadron members. His off – duty hours were spent tending his small garden and practising on his violin. Although not unsociable per-se, he was extremely sensitive and shy. Ball acted as mechanic on his own aircraft, and as a consequence, was often untidy and dishevelled. His singularity in dress extended to his habit of flying without helmet and goggles, and he wore his thick black hair much longer than regulations permitted.

While flying a Bristol Scout on the 6th of May 1916, Ball scored his first aerial victory, diving down a German reconnaissance aircraft. He then switched to Nieuport’s, bringing two LVG’s on the 29th of May and a Fokker Eindekker on the 1st of June. On the 25th of June, he became a balloon – buster and an Ace by destroying an observation balloon with phosphor bombs. During the month he had written to his parents admonishing to them to try to “take it well” should I be killed in action “for men tons better than I go in their hundreds every day” He again achieved two victories in one sortie on the 2nd of July, bringing down a Roland C.II and an Aviatik to bring his score up to seven.

To Be Continued……………..

(C) Damian Grange 2019