Air Aces of World War One

Berthold and Buddecke
band bPicture – Courtesy of Pinterest

Hauptmann Rudolf Berthold – Germany’s Iron Knight 1891 / 1920 Pt 3

 Meanwhile Berthold had damaged his original G.II in a landing accident on the 15th of September and had to return to piloting an old two-seater. Shortly thereafter he returned to Germany to collect a replacement  G.II. By the 1st of October 1915 he was using it as a gunship for air defence missions as well as for bombing. On the 6th of November one of these missions turned deadly; a British FB5 gunner mortally wounded Gruner. Berthold was depressed by his friend’s death and sent on home leave.

In early December Buddecke was seconded to the Turkish air Force and Berthold fell heir to his Eindekker. He was accompanying Ernt Frieherr von Althaus when the latter shot down enemy aircraft on both the 5th and 28th of December 1915. as the Germans pioneered the use of aircraft with synchronised guns, they began to group the new aerial weapons into ad hoc units to provide protection for reconnaissance and bombing aircraft. These new units were dubbed Kampfseinsitzer Kommando ( single seat fighter detachment ). On the 11th of January 1916, Kampfseinsitzer Kommando Vaux was formed near FFA 223 and Berthold was placed in command. Even as these pioneering units formed, on the 14th of January 1916, Royal Flying Corps Headquarters directed that any reconnaissance aircraft crossing over German held territory must have at least three protective aircraft.

On the 2nd of February 1916, both Berthold and von Althaus shot down a Voisin LA apiece. It was Berthold’s first Aerial victory. He scored another three days later. Then on the 10th on February Berthold was himself downed, with a punctured fuel tank and a slightly wounded left hand. He was rewarded with one of the 12 Military Merit Orders awarded to aviators during the First World War.

Berthold continued to fly a bomber on missions as well as patrolling in his fighter. After he had scored another victory, he was honoured by his native Kingdom of Bavaria, this time with the Knight’s Cross of the Military Order of Saint Henry on the 15th of April.

To Be Continued……………………..

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 129 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 129 )

  I called for two volunteers, two men at the front of the class came forward, grinning sheepishly at each other. ‘Right!’ I began, ‘I will begin by teaching you how to bandage a head wound, which I am informed is a wound often received in this campaign. The Boers apparently tend to favour the high ground.

I placed the two volunteers front and centre, so that the other eight could observe me demonstrating to one of them how to successfully bandage the other. I took it very slowly and deliberately, I wanted the men to be able to watch and mimic my movements. My reasoning was that if I could get them doing it reasonably correctly, I could then fine tune them on an individual basis.

To my obvious delight, my two volunteers picked up on my methods almost immediately, Then realisation dawned on me. These were not raw civilians, they were trained men who to a certain extent were used to learning new methods, to them this was just another challenge.

I thanked and praised my volunteers and returned them to their seats, asking for two more volunteers to replace them. the new volunteers once again grasped the fundamentals of bandaging quite easily. I sneaked a look at the Sergeant and he seemed quite pleased with his troopers performance.

I decided then and there, that the following week I would double the amount of men to be trained. I felt the need to justify the Colonel’s faith in me. The initial day flew by, by the end of the day I had ten men who could competently bandage head wounds and also position and place arms in a sling. In the grand scheme of things, maybe not a major achievement, but I felt justifiably pleased.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

The Castle Karlstadt – Excerpt 8

The Castle Karlstadt – Excerpt 8

  I found the church easily, it was quite a substantial structure. The townspeople it seemed were particularly religious or so it would seem by the size of the church. I deftly opened the church doors, trying to keep my arrival as quiet as possible.

I had no wish to attract attention to myself, or the fact that I had a loaded weapon slung over my shoulder. I closed the doors behind me, but unfortunately they made a certain amount of noise and some of the congregation turned to see who had entered.

They looked none too pleased to see an armed stranger standing there, and putting myself in their shoes, I may have felt the same. Fortunately, the priest who appeared to be addressing the congregation, signalled me to move to the front, to where he himself stood. I felt a little intimidated, but was left with little choice in the matter.

As I marched down the aisle, I could feel all eyes on me, I had no inkling of what they were thinking, but after the reception that I had received at the village. I believed I had a little cause for concern.

The priest asked me my name, and what my business was in Karlstadt. I was happy to answer him, no problem there, I had nothing to hide. ‘I am Captain John Colbourne of Her Majesty’s Scots Guards, I was wounded in the Crimea and am now in the process of making my way back home.’ I stated in answer to his enquiry. ‘As for my business her, one of the nuns who kindly administered to my wounds, was born here, and spoke of her birthplace in such glowing terms, that I wished to see it for myself, is that a problem?’

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Conor Dillon – Beginnings Excerpt 26

Conor Dillon – Beginnings Excerpt 26

  Conor punched him in the face, then kicked him at the back of the knee, so that he stumbled and fell, he was however soon back on his feet, he gave Conor a right hook that knocked him down Conor was just about to retaliate when his Father and Uncle arrived. They had come to see what all the commotion was about.

‘Arrest that man!’ ordered Lord Dillon, ‘Assaulting your Senior Officer, this time you have gone too far, O’Rourke.’ ‘Wait!’ cried Conor, ‘I was teaching this man some unarmed combat tricks that I wish my men to become familiar with, I ordered this man to attack me.’

‘Is that the gospel truth, Shamus?’ He asked my teacher. ‘It is my Lord, it may seem a little unorthodox, but Conor wants to mould the men his own way and I for one think they might just work!’

‘I have no objection to Conor putting his own stamp on the unit, in fact I welcome it, but I would like to be kept informed of what is going on, if that is not asking too much.’ with that comment the Senior Officers turned and left.

‘You were a very lucky man, O’Rourke,’ said Black Michael, ‘You would have gotten at least fifty strokes of the cat ‘o nine tails, Or maybe they would have just hung you to save the mess, either way, I think you owe Conor Dillon, big style.’

‘I know and understand, Conor Dillon, If you will have me I’m your man, I promise to serve you faithfully. ‘Accepted, Paddy here’s my hand on it, Conor smiled and added, ‘Oh and just be a little gentler with me next time.’ A ragged cheer went up from the volunteers, now they all wanted to fight for Conor Dillon!

(C) Damian Grange 2018


Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 128 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 128 )

  And so, the following day, after I had breakfasted, I reported to the assigned stateroom to begin my tuition of the Colonel’s troopers. When I arrived, there were ten troopers awaiting my ministrations, they were surprisingly well-behaved, I believed in some part due to the presence of Sergeant McKay, a somewhat stocky Scotsman with a florid complexion. He looked the type of man who would brook no nonsense from Officers or other ranks.

I introduced myself to the troopers, and explained to them why they were there, ‘You may well think this is a waste of time, but what I am about to teach you might well save your life or the life of the comrade sat next to you. If you are not interested in saving lives, see Sergeant McKay and he will find you other suitable employment. If, however you decide to stay, I will teach you skills that can and may save a comrades life!’

There was a little shuffling and muttering, but they all opted to stay. I have no idea whether it was my inspiring speech or the dirty looks that they were getting from Sergeant McKay. Either way I counted it as a minor result, it was a promising  start, all it needed now was to pique their interest.

‘Have any of you, any knowledge of First Aid at all?’ I enquired. There was no reaction, but than again I would have been surprised if there was. But at least now I knew the enormity of the task I had taken on. But then I knew it was never going to be an easy ride.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Air Aces of World War One

Picture – Courtesy of Pinterest

Hauptmann Rudolf Berthold – Germany’s Iron Knight 1891 / 1920 PT.2

  Berthold was also the observer on flights on the 1st and 3rd of September. He saw panicked French troops retreating across the Marne river. Later the same month he discovered the French counter -thrust between the German 1st and 2nd armies.

German staff Officers disbelief led to Berthold personally briefing Generaloberst Karl von Bulow on the situation. Bulow moved his troops to higher ground; the first battle of the Aisne began. General Bulow had received the initial award of the Iron Cross Second Class on behalf of the 2nd army; He personally awarded the second one to Berthold on the 13th of September.

On the 4th of October, Berthold was awarded the Iron Cross First Class, once again the second in line, awarded personally by General von Bulow. As Novembers wintry weather limited combat flying, Berthold arranged to continue with his pilot’s training at a nearby flight park. He became friends with a fellow student, Hans Joachim Buddecke.

Rudolf Berthold finally qualified as a military pilot on the 18th of January 1915. He arranger Buddecke’s transfer in to FFA 223. Berthold was assigned an observer Leutnant Gruner, for flying reconnaissance sorties; they soon became friends. In June they were finally supplied with machine-guns for their aircraft, Berthold could cease his futile attacks on the enemy with his service pistol.

At about the same time, Berthold was laid up for a fortnight with dysentery. FFA 223 was re-equipped with AEG G.II bombers in August, The twin-engined giant was armed with two swivelling machine-guns and manned by a pilot and two gunners. The unit also received its first single-seat fighter with a synchronised gun, a Fokker Eindekker.

Berthold knew that he was allowed to cross the enemy lines in the AEG GII but not in the Eindekker, which was restricted to patrolling behind German lines. Berthold took command of the big bomber, and left Buddecke with the Eindekker. This decision sped Buddecke on his way to becoming one of the first wave of German Aces that included Oswald Boelcke, Max Immelman and Kurt Wintgens among others.

To Be Continued ……………..

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 127 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 127 )

  ‘I’m not doubting your sincerity, Doctor, but what do you know about typhoid? asked the Colonel.

‘The figures for this conflict came direct from the War Office, My experience with typhoid and for that matter, cholera too, came from practising my profession in the East End of London for twelve years. Whitechapel to be precise, where I dealt with several outbreaks of both diseases. I have first – hand knowledge of their cause and effect! ‘I stated confidently.

‘Bravo!’ said the Colonel, much to my astonishment, ‘ You don’t really think that I would let you loose on my men, without first checking your credentials. By all accounts you are a modern Doctor with a reputation as a bit of a crusader, but the part that impressed me the most was that your patients always come first. And on that basis I will trust you with my men, In fact I will go so far as to endorse the scheme with Headquarters.’

For the first time in ages, I was lost for words I grasped the Colonel’s hand and shook it whilst trying to come up with words that suitably summed up my gratitude.

The Adjutant intervened, ‘There, is a stateroom on the upper deck, that, you may have the use of, I will assign you a sergeant and ten men initially and we will see how you progress? Are you ready to begin tomorrow?

‘That’s not a problem, thank you so much Gentlemen, I promise I won’t fail you!’ I stated.

‘There was never any doubt in our minds!’ replied the Colonel.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

The Castle Karlstadt – Excerpt 7

The Castle Karlstadt – Excerpt 7

  It was not a question of courage, more that curiosity had gotten the better of me. I wanted reasons, I sought answers?

I slung my rifle back over my shoulder, Karlstadt, unlike the village, would have order and officials to see that order was kept. On that basis I felt relatively safe.

I would, I surmised, be dealing with educated men, who like myself were capable of logical thought whatever the circumstances that prevailed. And yet again I was proved to be wrong!

As I reached the outskirts of the town, I felt a little re-assured, everything seemed peaceful and orderly as I supposed it should be. Then it suddenly struck me, it was too quiet, in fact the silence overwhelmed me. This was a town, I would have expected much more hustle and bustle.

Where were the townspeople going about their daily business. All the shops were closed and shuttered. It was like a ghost town, where were all the inhabitants. it was getting odder by the moment or so it seemed to me.

I was approaching what appeared to be a Livery Stable, I dismounted and led my horse inside. There was a youth scattering straw on the floor with a pitchfork. I asked him if he could attend to my horse, he nodded and led him in to a stall where he fed him and settled him in.

With my horse attended too, I asked the youth where everyone was? He explained to me as best he could, that almost all the townsfolk were at a meeting in the church, which was a little further up the street on the right hand side.

I decided to gate-crash this meeting, don’t ask me why? Something about this place was troubling me. I felt that I needed answers? And where better than the church, Priest’s knew everything, or so I surmised.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Conor Dillon – Beginnings Excerpt 25

Conor Dillon – Beginnings Excerpt 25

  ‘Yes, me!’ a voice spoke from among the volunteers. ‘Then show yourself, soldier’ said Conor, ‘Don’t be shy, I won’t hurt you.’ The crowd parted and a tall, stocky soldier swaggered through, he was not as tall as Michael, but much taller than Conor.

It was obvious by his demeanour that he was a bully and a drinker. Conor thought his overconfidence would be his downfall. Black Michael suggested, ‘Do you want me to deal with this one?’ Conor replied, ‘No, I’m fine,’ and to the bully,’What’s your name, soldier?’

‘I’m Paddy O’Rourke, boy!’ he answered in a surly fashion. ‘Well, Paddy, I take it you like to fight with your hands, that’s just fine with me.’ said Conor. Who immediately punched O’Rourke in the stomach winding him, O’Rourke though winded came back hard and  fast, gripping Conor around his waist.

Conor retaliated with a headbutt which although it would have floored lesser men, seemed to have had hardly any effect on Paddy. Conor was beginning to realise that  maybe he had been a little overconfident in challenging the bigger man. Maybe he should have left him to the ministrations of Black Michael, a man more his match.

But he had no choice, if he were to lose face in front of these men, he would never get them to follow him into battle. The fight must continue, to the bitter end. O’Rourke tightened his grip on Conor’s waist making breathing difficult.

Conor managed to free a hand and following Shamus’s teachings, with the heel of his hand he punched O’Rourke under the nose, not hard enough to kill, but certainly hard enough to make the man release his grip.

(C) Damian Grange 2018


Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 126 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 126 )

  After we had eaten our fill, we left the table and stood chatting. Jimmy had introduced me to some of his fellow Officers, and we were all sharing our opinions on the conflict that we were on our way to join.

A steward came to me and said, ‘The Adjutant would like a few minutes of your time?’ he gestured across the room to where the Adjutant stood with a red-faced Officer with a very military bearing, I guessed at once that this was the Colonel.

I walked across the room to where they stood, ‘You wanted me, Sir!’ I said, ‘Yes, Doctor this is the Colonel, he is very interested in what you are proposing’ replied the Adjutant.

The Colonel, appraising me, asked, ‘Could you explain briefly what it is you propose and how it will effect my unit both in the short and long term?’ he had me, so now I had to prove my credentials or lose his attention and possible support.

‘As I am sure that you are aware, there are very few trained Doctors in this area for the treatment of the wounded, basically what I am proposing is that I teach your men to care for each other under battlefield conditions in order to prolong a life as long as possible.’

‘And how, may I ask, do you propose to do this.’ queried the Colonel.

‘First, and I mean no offence, we must work on the men’s personal hygiene. The majority of men that we have lost in this war, have not been to Boer bullets, but to typhoid. I would suggest that all water, whether it be for washing, cooking or whatever reason, should be boiled before use. I realise this will be inconvenient, but in the long run it will save lives, we will only win this war with healthy men.’ I stated.

(C) Damian Grange 2018