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

For readers tired of clichés 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.

Friday, November 27, 2020

“It would be a nice change not to be outnumbered ten to one.” -- An Excerpt from "Where Eagles Never Flew"


(Setting: RAF Tangmere: A new pilot observes his comrades, Late August 1940)

The telephone went. The eruption of swearing was truly vile – not just rude but vehement. The clerk was absent for some reason, so the CO grabbed the receiver himself, still chewing. He managed a mere, “MMM.”

The others waited absolutely still, staring at him. He gestured with his hand for them to relax and they audibly unwound, starting to eat and drink more calmly. The CO was nodding. “Um hum. Um hum. OK. Thanks, Bridges.”


“Hornchurch was hit while 54 was still on the ground. They lost a whole section – though not the pilots, it seems – and Biggin Hill was struck again. Second time today. They also gave Debden, North Weald and Croyden a pasting. It seems Jerry really is going for the airfields around London. 12 Group was asked to patrol London and the 11 Group ‘dromes while the squadrons refuelled, but they failed to show up in time.”

“Typical 12 Group,” a man with a posh accent commented.

“Leigh-Mallory thinks his squadrons are more effective if they are flown in a wing. He likes to send them in together,” the CO explained.

“Well, I like that idea. It would be a nice change not to be outnumbered ten-to-one!”

“We never are out-numbered by that many, Woody,” the CO countered very seriously. “And the odds are identical whether we deploy in big wings or squadrons. The difference is at best psychological, and frankly I much prefer things the way they are.”

“Why?” the New Zealander asked bluntly, and by the nodding around the dispersal, Ainsworth had the impression they all wanted to know.

“Because large gaggles just get in each other’s way. Look at the 109s. We generally have somewhere over thirty or even sixty of the buggers up there when we attack, but when it comes down to it, we only fight with about a score. The others never get a chance.”

“Maybe, but frankly, once – just once – I’d like to face them on equal terms.”


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


Friday, November 20, 2020

The Battle of Britain: The Nazi Juggernaut vs a Handful of British Amateurs


A purely objective assessment of the Battle of Britain does not explain why interest in the Battle of Britain remains so high 80 years later. There were, after all, many other decisive battles in WWII from Stalingrad to Midway. The appeal of the Battle of Britain is less military and diplomatic than emotional.

In the summer of 1940, the RAF stood against an apparently invincible enemy, a juggernaut of  seemingly huge proportions, while RAF Fighter Command was tiny -- and largely composed of 18-22 year-old amateurs hastily inducted! Even including the foreign pilots flying with the RAF, there were only roughly 1,200 trained fighter pilots. (Numbers varied due to training, casualties and recruiting.) They were anything but "cannon fodder." Although very few of them were "regulars," because the process of learning to fly to the proficiency required took more than a year, fighter pilots represented a cadre that could not be readily replaced. The RAF had to beat the Luftwaffe with the few men it had.

Churchill – as so often – captured the sentiment of his countrymen when he claimed that “never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few.” This image of a small “band of brothers” standing up to a massive and invincible foe in a defensive battle for their homeland was reminiscent of other heroic battles – Henry V at Agincourt, Edward the Black Prince at Poitiers, Leonidas and his 300 at Thermopylae. Such battles, pitting a few defenders against a hoard of enemy, have always appealed to students of history and readers of historical fiction like almost nothing else.

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