Helena Schrader's Historical Fiction

Dr. Helena P. Schrader is the winner of more than 20 literary accolades. For a complete list of her awards see: http://helenapschrader.com

Helena is represented by Laurie Blum Guest at the Re-Naissance Agency.

For readers tired of clich├ęs and cartoons, award-winning novelist Helena P. Schrader offers nuanced insight to historical events and figures based on sound research and an understanding of human nature. Her complex and engaging characters bring history back to life as a means to better understand ourselves.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

"Once more onto the breach, dear friends" -- An excerpt from "Where Eagles Never Flew"

 

(Setting: Pilots of an RAF Squadron deployed to France at readiness.)

The squadron commander did a double-take before he recognised Priestman. “I say! What’s happened to you?” 

“What hasn’t happened, sir? – bombed, dive-bombed, strafed, played ambulance to civilian casualties and slept in the open – and I didn’t have a change of clothes or a razor with me.” 

“Right. Well, your batman packed some of your kit for you.” Sharp was looking around, watching the rest of the squadron land, making dispositions in his mind. “Not much here, is there?” 

“No, sir. Who’s missing?” 

“Sergeant Putnam is dead; Ned is still missing. He may be a POW, but we don’t know. At least no one’s found his body yet.” This said, Sharp strode away towards the Lysander, from which the Flight Sergeant was emerging.

...

He sensed it more than anything. Then the sun blinked. “BREAK!” 

They were all over the place. At least 20 of them. They fell out of the sun. One minute they were nothing but a winking of the light, and the next they were blotting it out entirely while their wings lit up with flashes. The smoke of tracer smudged the sky, and then Yellow Three started spewing black smoke. Wasn’t that Roger? Whoever it was, he flipped over on his back and started downwards. More Robin didn’t have a chance to see, because he yanked his own Hurricane instinctively into a tight turn and was temporarily blinded as the blood drained from his head. 

Priestman unhooked his oxygen mask and shoved the hood back before he landed, gulping in the fresh air. When he set down on three points, he thought he had never in his life been so glad to have ground under him. He was aware of a pulsing headache and his eyes felt swollen in their sockets. He taxied absently to the side of the field, too tired to notice if someone was signalling him somewhere else. He cut the engine and pulled off his helmet, and ran his hand through his hair – it was wet and sticky. 

He heard someone pant up beside him. “Robin?” He glanced over; it was Roger Ibbotsholm. So he hadn’t been in Yellow Three after all. 

“Aye, aye.” Robin was having trouble unclipping his straps for some reason. 

Roger was on the wing and bent over to help him. “Are we glad to see you! We thought you’d bought it.” 

“They did rather catch us out again. Is everyone else back?” 

“The CO’s gone for six. Flamed out and went straight in from 10,000. Guy had to hit the silk over Seclin. Driver swears he saw a parachute land just beside the field and so he’s almost certainly a POW. Shakespeare says Spotty didn’t make it either – crate flamed before he could get out.” 

Douglas and Sellers reached Priestman. They too were panting, having run over from the far side of the field. “Are you all right, sir?” 

“I’ve got a terrible headache, actually,” Robin admitted rubbing his forehead. 

“There’s a ruddy great hole in the back of your seat, sir!” 

“Oh, that. Yes. Good thing about the armour plating.” 

“You can say that again, sir!”

...

Shakespeare woke him in the dark. “Time to get up, Robin.” 

“What time is it?” 

“Time to get up.” 

“What time is that?” 

“If you insist on the ugly details: 4.25 am. The lorry will be in the square in 5 minutes.” 

“Dawn Patrol.” 

“Isn’t that the name of a flick?” 

“With David Niven, I think.” 

“I don’t think it had a very good ending.” 

“Not for everyone.” 

....

The telephone was ringing in the ops tent. They turned their heads and stared at it, waiting.

“Maybe it is just someone ringing up to see how the weather is over here.”

“Or someone calling to ask if there is anything we lack?”

“Maybe someone has just signed a surrender.”

No, it didn’t look like that. Yardly was standing in the entry, waving furiously at them.

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,” Shakespeare intoned as he set his mug aside.

“Shut up!” Roger told him irritably – much too irritably. You could tell his nerves were a bit frayed. He’d had an ugly belly landing the other day and hadn’t been the same since, really.

“What’s the matter?” Driver asked innocently.

Yardly was shouting at them to “get cracking,” but they ignored him. After all, he wasn’t flying, and they didn’t presume it would make much difference to the war if they were a minute or two later. It was all a cock-up, anyway.

“It’s the next line,” Priestman explained to Driver, putting his own mug aside carefully.

“What’s that?”

“‘Or close the wall up with our English dead.’”

--------------

Click here to see a video teaser of  Where Eagles Never Flew 

If you wish to pre-order a copy, please send me an email at: info@CrossSeasPress.com


 


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

The Battle of Britain - A Retrospective

September 15, Battle of Britain Day

 

It is now 80 years since the Battle of Britain was fought -- and won. It was not, of course, a battle fought on a single day, but rather one that lasted the entire summer of 1940. Only in retrospect did the “Battle of Britain” become a discreet phase of the Second World War. 

Yet in a speech before the House of Commons on June 18, 1940, Sir Winston Churchill correctly noted its significance. Warning that "the Battle of Britain" was about to begin, Churchill soberly predicted that “the whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us."  He presciently predicted: "Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free … but if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States … will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age ….” 

The Battle of Britain did not win or end the war. It would take five more grim and grueling years of conflict before Hitler was finally defeated. The Second World War first spread across the entire northern hemisphere and consumed millions of lives. Yet the Battle of Britain was the imperative first step toward Allied victory. It brought Hitler’s aggression to a halt for the first time since he had come to power in Germany in 1933.

What is often forgotten nowadays is that it was a very near-run thing. The outcome teetered in the balance day after day. It was also a victory won by an extraordinarily limited number of combatants — Winston’s Churchill’s “Few.” Yet they were not entirely alone in this vital struggle. They were supported by ground crews and controllers, by medical, clerical and catering staff -- and by the women they loved.

Where Eagles Never Flew is a tribute to the men and women who were engaged in this crucial conflict. Based on first-hand accounts by pilots and other participants as well as retrospective historical analysis, this novel recreates the tense atmosphere of this dramatic summer. It allows the reader to see unfolding events through the eyes of characters involved both in the air and on the ground and on both sides of the Channel. 

See a video teaser of Where Eagles Never Flew 

If you would like to pre-order a copy, send me an email at: info@CrossSeasPress.com



 

 

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Re-Lauch of "Where Eagles Never Flew"

 


 

To mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, "Where Eagles Never Flew" will be released in a new illustrated edition. This is the book Wing Commander Bob Doe called "the best book about the Battle of Britain" that he had ever seen. He should know; he not only flew in the Battle, he was a recognized ace.

Find out more about "Where Eagles Never Flew" from the video teaser on YouTube: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CUv2wBgJGA 

Pre-Order a copy at: info@CrossSeasPress.com