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 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.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Character from "Eagles" - The Spy

  During the Battle of Britain, squadron intelligence officers (commonly referred to as "the spy") played a critical role in collecting and collating information. They spoke to pilots immediately after landing to hear what they had seen and heard and they reviewed combat reports. Their analysis was critical to assessing the Luftwaffe's strength, tactics, and morale. Today I introduce Squadron Leader Allars -- The Spy of 606 Squadron

Excerpt:

It was quite late in the evening before Allars finally caught up with the CO in the Mess. By then, Allars was tired, annoyed and in pain. He had no patience for beating around the bush, and he got straight to the point. "I've looked into the combat reports from yesterday carefully, and I don't believe a word P/O Debsen told me. I don't believe he gave any warning -- at least, no one heard him. I don't believe he turned into the enemy -- or he would have encountered a little opposition and taken some damage to his aircraft. And I don't believe he chased and shot down an Me 110."

"What are you saying?" Jones asked, drawing his dark, bushy eyebrows together and narrowing his eyes.

"I'm saying that I think P/O Debsen not only falsified his combat report and made a false claim, but that he absented himself from the fight at the first sight of the enemy -- and before the bounce."

"But he fired his guns."

"He could have fired them into the sea. According to his erks, he fired less than a hundred rounds -- making it even more unlikely that he shot anything down."

Jones scowled, his thick eyebrows almost meeting over his nose. "I don't like what you're implying, Spy. Debsen's a gentleman, and I don't think it's fair to question a gentleman's word behind his back. Have you told him about your suspicions?"

"Not yet, but I will if you want me to."

"No, damn it!" Jones replied forcefully. "Leave the boy alone! He's young. We all make mistakes. I'm sure if he did something not quite above board, he regrets it now and won't do it again. He's a good lad, I tell you. Comes from a good stable."

"If that's the way you want to deal with it, sir," Allars replied tartly. His leg -- the one that wasn't there -- was killing him.

Squadron Leader Douglas Allars, the "Spy" for 606 Squadron, is a veteran of the First World War. He earned his wings in the Royal Flying Corps, where he flew as a fighter pilot in 48 Squadron under then Squadron Leader Keith Park. A crash left his leg hopelessly crushed and amputation had been necessary. He was invalided out of the service and took up a civilian career as an accountant. 

As the Nazi threat grew, however, his old friend Keith Park (now an Air Vice Marshal) convinced him there was a place -- and more importantly a need -- for eagles with broken wings like him. He volunteered again and was trained in intelligence. His assignment is with 606 (Hurricane Squadron) stationed at Tangmere on the south coast of England.

Allars has a sharp analytical mind and he takes his job very seriously -- but without sentimentality. He's seen it all before. He knows the pilots are lambs for the slaughter. He keeps his distance from them. What he cares about is winning. And winning will be difficult.

Allars is acutely aware of what is at stake and he does not believe the RAF has margin for error. They have to be "top of their game" -- all of the time. Thus, despite being a man from a privileged background, Allars is anything but a snob.  He has no tolerance for favoritism or excuses.

Allars will play a critical role in steering 606 Squadron out of potential disaster and molding it into an effective fighting unit -- but only from behind the scenes. 

 


 "This is the best book on the life of us fighter pilots in the Battle of Britain that I have ever seen.... I couldn't put it down."-- RAF Battle of Britain ace, Wing Commander Bob Doe.

Winner of a Hemingway Award for 20th Century Wartime Fiction, a Maincrest Media Award for Military Fiction and Silver in the Global Book Awards.

Find out more at: https://crossseaspress.com/where-eagles-never-flew

 

 

 

Riding the icy, moonlit sky,

they took the war to Hitler. 

Their chances of survival were less than fifty percent. 

Their average age was 21.

This is the story of just one bomber pilot, his crew and the woman he loved. 

It is intended as a tribute to them all.  

Buy now on amazon

or Barnes and Noble

 

Disfiguring injuries, class prejudice and PTSD are the focus of three heart-wrenching tales set in WWII by award-winning novelist Helena P. Schrader. Find out more at: https://crossseaspress.com/grounded-eagles


 

 

 

 

For more information about all my books visit: https://www.helenapschrader.com




 

 

 

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Characters of "Eagles" - The Padre

There is an old saying that there are no atheists in a foxhole. That's true for the cockpit of a military aircraft in wartime, too. Sustained exposure to mortal danger tends to make believers of even the most irreverent and most sceptical. The RAF had and still has Commissioned Chaplains, who provide spiritual support, strength and guidance to service personnel. I chose to include such a figure in "Where Eagles Never Flew": Pilot Officer Colin Duport -- the "Padre"

Excerpt:

"Oh, I'm sorry!" The upper-class accent made Ginger almost jump out of his skin. He turned and found himself face to face with the padre. "I didn't mean to intrude," the young clergyman apologized, and started to retreat.

Ginger felt he had to say something. "It's alright. I was just looking at the stars."

"Beautiful aren't they?" the padre agreed at once, stopping to look upwards. "Are you alright, by the way?" he asked, still looking upwards. "I heard you'd been shot down and were in the Channel for hours. Have you seen the MO?"

"No. I'm fine. Physically."

"And otherwise?"

The question was put so softly, but so intently, that Ginger wondered if the padre had really just chanced upon him after all -- or had he followed him out here intentionally? Suddenly it didn't matter. Ginger burst out angrily, "I saw three Spitfires shoot down a flying boat which was landing to rescue aircrew. It had red crosses all over it, and it was landing right beside the raft with the airmen in it! There couldn't be any question about what it was or what it was doing. And we shot it down -- not Jerry, not the Nazis, not the Hun! Spitfires of His Majesty's Royal Air Force with their roudels bright as day! Why?" Ginger turned to face the padre as he flung the last question at him. He saw the clergyman's eyes widen behind his thick glasses.

Colin was shocked. He licked his lips nervously. "I don't know," he answered honestly. "I suppose there must be a reason. I'll try to find out."

"Don't bother. It's too late."

Clergymen aren't born old and wise. They too start out young, innocent and certainly inexperienced. Colin Duport has only just been ordained and he doesn't have much experience in life, but he's been thrown in at the metaphorical "deep end." Instead of a typical vicarage serving a community of young and old, he is sent to an active RAF squadron in the midst of an air offensive. Tensions are high and the casualties mounting.

It doesn't help to be short-sighted with thick-framed glasses, or to be a penguin among eagles (or would-be eagles). Colin is very much alone, lonely and unsure of his utility. He had no power to solve anyone's problems. He can't stop the war, he can't get people leave or promoted. He doesn't have any power with the Almighty, either.

Colin has nothing to offer beyond his sincerity and his sympathy. Often that doesn't seem to be enough. His sense of helplessness increasingly challenges his own faith in God. But he can't stop trying, even if all he has to offer is a ear to talk or a shoulder to lean on. Colin's role in "Where Eagles Never Flew" is not great, yet he represents another strand in the fabric that made England strong enough to withstand the Nazi assault in 1940.

Excerpt continued:

"Sounds to me like you could do with a beer--"

"Alcohol isn't the answer to everything!" Ginger flung back at him bitterly.

Colin felt his own helplessness. "Tea, then. Would you like to join me?"

"No, I just want to be left alone."

That hurt, but Colin accepted it. "All right. Good night then."

No sooner had Colin retreated into the darkness than Ginger felt guilty about it. At least the padre had taken an interest -- the only one on the whole squadron to do so. And he was right. Ginger could have used a beer -- as long as it wasn't in a large noisy crowd. But it was too late; he'd chased away the only  officer on the whole Station who had ever been nice to him.



 

 

 

 


 "This is the best book on the life of us fighter pilots in the Battle of Britain that I have ever seen.... I couldn't put it down."-- RAF Battle of Britain ace, Wing Commander Bob Doe.

Winner of a Hemingway Award for 20th Century Wartime Fiction, a Maincrest Media Award for Military Fiction and Silver in the Global Book Awards.

Find out more at: https://crossseaspress.com/where-eagles-never-flew

 

 

 

Riding the icy, moonlit sky,

they took the war to Hitler. 

Their chances of survival were less than fifty percent. 

Their average age was 21.

This is the story of just one bomber pilot, his crew and the woman he loved. 

It is intended as a tribute to them all.  

Buy now on amazon

or Barnes and Noble

 

Disfiguring injuries, class prejudice and PTSD are the focus of three heart-wrenching tales set in WWII by award-winning novelist Helena P. Schrader. Find out more at: https://crossseaspress.com/grounded-eagles


 

 

 

 

For more information about all my books visit: https://www.helenapschrader.com




 

 

 

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Characters of "Eagles" - The Controller

  The pilots of Fighter Command -- Churchill's "few" -- may have been the tip of the spear, but they could not have won the Battle of Britain on their own. Fundamental to British success in the summer of 1940 was the system of controlling the limited number of fighters available to the RAF. By linking the radar stations to command and control centers where the enemy aircraft were plotted and their intentions deduced, the RAF was able to deploy their resources sparingly and effectively. To highlight this critical aspect of the Battle, an important character in "Where Eagles Never Flew" is one of the controllers.

Ft/Lt Christopher "Bridges" Bainbridge - RAF Controller

Excerpt:

It was noon and the next raid was building up over Calais again. Bainbridge started to suspect that the Germans had concentrated their forces over the Pas de Calais. Otherwise, they couldn't mount so many raids in one place in such quick succession. Park would have to ask Tangmere Sector for support soon. Bainbridge's eye wandered nervously between the boards below and the telephone connecting him directly to Park's HQ at Uxbridge. The raid moved inland. Manston again. This time communication to and from the airfield was knocked out.

Bainbridge stood and went to the railing of the gallery to stare at the map below. He tried to picture the coastline from Hastings to Ramsgate. That, apparently, was where the German army intended to force its way ashore. Hastings  would undoubtedly appeal to the superstitious dictator, Bainbridge thought flippantly -- but without real levity. Someone had brought him a tray with lunch and he had not eaten a single bite. "Aren't you going to eat, sir?" ACW Roberts asked.

"No, you can take it away." She seemed to do so reluctantly.

"Bridges", like most of the early controllers, was himself a pilot -- until a motor accident robbed him of one eye. Now, no longer judged fit to fly by the RAF medical establishment, he has been hastily retrained to serve as a "Sector Controller." All information from radar stations and the Observer Corps (which provided information not available from radar and of aircraft already in British airspace) was first sent to Fighter Command Headquarters at Bentley Priory. There it was filtered for duplication and other errors and then sent out to the "Sector Airfields." These controlled up to four fighter squadrons. The Sector Controllers were responsible guiding the aircraft based in their sector to interceptions with the enemy. 

When Bridges arrives at Tangmere he feels like a fish out of water. He no longer belongs to a squadron. Because of his injuries, he is no longer "one of the boys" either. He is a stranger in his own mess. Yet his job is critical and he soon realizes this. Before too long, the men flying know his voice and come to trust him, confident that he will do all he can to guide them to their prey -- and warn them of their predators. The relationship between Bridges and the squadrons he "controls" becomes strong. 

Yet although he has only one physical eye, his job places him in a position to see more than the sharp-sighted young men flying Hurricanes. He can see the wider picture. The attacks and the feints of the enemy. He can form a picture of what they are attempting to achieve. He knows when they succeed and when they fail not just in the individual struggles of his squadrons but across the south coast of England. 

Bridges role in "Where Eagles Never Flew" is to give the reader greater insight into overall developments and the wider picture -- as it looked at the time without the benefit of hindsight.

Excerpt continues:  

Hastings was too far west, Bainbridge decided on second thought. If they were going to land at Hastings, they would be concentrating more in the Kenley and Tangmere Sectors. They must be planning to land nearer Dover. Land below the chalk cliffs? Were there cliffs all along the coast? Bainbridge was from Somerset and didn't known the south coast well. H was so lost in reflections about the impending invasion that he was taken by surprise when a plot went on the board at Cherbourg.

That would be fore them. He glanced at the clock; it was 3.40 pm. OK. Watch that carefully. Park wouldn't want them to scramble too soon. It was still building up. 100+ already, but the escorts were not doubt still joining up and circling the bomber squadrons.

Farther east, another raid was moving out of Calais again. Communication, meanwhile, had been restored to Manston. All accommodation had been leveled, and the airfield was so littered with unexploded bombs (aircrew error, and indication of declining German industrial efficiency, or an intentional new tactic?) that it was no longer usable. The order went out to the Manston squadrons to withdrew to Hornchurch. 

Bainbridge noted: 15:45, August 24, 1940. The Germans achieve their second clear victory in the air war: they deny Fighter Command one of its forward airfields.


 "This is the best book on the life of us fighter pilots in the Battle of Britain that I have ever seen.... I couldn't put it down."-- RAF Battle of Britain ace, Wing Commander Bob Doe.

Winner of a Hemingway Award for 20th Century Wartime Fiction, a Maincrest Media Award for Military Fiction and Silver in the Global Book Awards.

Find out more at: https://crossseaspress.com/where-eagles-never-flew

 

 

 

Riding the icy, moonlit sky,

they took the war to Hitler. 

Their chances of survival were less than fifty percent. 

Their average age was 21.

This is the story of just one bomber pilot, his crew and the woman he loved. 

It is intended as a tribute to them all.  

Buy now on amazon

or Barnes and Noble

 

Disfiguring injuries, class prejudice and PTSD are the focus of three heart-wrenching tales set in WWII by award-winning novelist Helena P. Schrader. Find out more at: https://crossseaspress.com/grounded-eagles


 

 

 

 

For more information about all my books visit: https://www.helenapschrader.com




 

 

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Characters of "Where Eagles Never Flew" - The Baron

  During World War Two, some Germans claimed that they had a royal army, an imperial navy and a National Socialist air force. The expression was intended to highlight the different ethos dominating the respective services. Certainly the Luftwaffe was young and it was led by one of the most fanatical Nazis, Hermann Goering. Yet ultimately the young men who joined the Luftwaffe, like those who flocked to the RAF and USAF, were most attracted not by ideology but by the desire to fly.

Leutnant Christian Freiherr von Feldburg was one of them.

Excerpt: 

"Fatty's gone and given Galland and Moelders Geschwader," Christian announced, as Ernst arrived for breakfast. It was at a "civilied" time this morning, because the Staffel wasn't slated to fly escort until the afternoon. Morning fog clung to the Channel, delaying all flying. 

Ernst whistled. The papers had been full of pictures of them grinning beside the Reichsmarshall, shotguns over their arms, the slaughtered partridges inevitably likened to their mounting score of Spitfires and Hurricanes. Still, they were very junior and to command a Geschwader was to command three Gruppe of three Staffel each, or roughly 100 aircraft and more than a 1,500 men. Ernst considered Christian's expression and asked hesitantly, "Isn't that good?"

"Good? What's good about it? The Gallands and Moelders of this world care only about their personal glory. Haven't you heard? Their entire Gruppe had to hover about protecting them while they attacked alone -- bounce after bounce, running up their own score. Is that the most effective use of 40 fighters? Now, I suppose, they'll expect the whole damned Geschwader to 'protect' them!

Christian Freiherr von Feldburg is a child of privilege. Although his father was a wealthy Catholic nobleman and member of the German Reichstag for the Center Party. Christian has grown up with every advantage possible: wealth, parental love, a first rate education, and good looks. He is fortunate, too, to have an elder brother who dutifully assumes all the burdens and obligations of his old and noble family. Philip does all the "right" things, leaving Christian free to just have fun. Philip is also the serious one, the intellectual one, the man with a conscience. Philip is shocked by the Nazis, outraged by their policies, distressed by the consequences of aggression, frightened for the future of a nation that acts immorally. Christian just wants to fly fast aeroplanes and date pretty girls.

Christian's light-hearted attitude toward life in general is tolerated by his superiors, who see it as fundamentally harmless. His indifference to National Socialist ideology, on the other hand, is viewed as a more serious flaw. His jokes border on treason at times and he can be insubordinate -- both traits that hold him back from rapid promotion or the best assignments.

Nor is Christian the best pilot. He's not bad, but he's not Adolf Galland either. In fact, it takes him rather a long time before he can claim his first "kill." Yet there is no denying that most of his fellow pilots like him. He's generous, helpful, encouraging and fun to be with. He also knows how to inspire confidence and encourage the timid --  like Ernst Geuke.

Beneath his easy-going facade is a man who has not escaped his upbringing. He has learned the difference between right and wrong and he knows lies when he hears them. He has moral compass. Beneath the surface, remains a man of principle who will eventually break with the regime in his own way.

 

Excerpt Continues:

"Ah, Freiherr von Feldburg seeing the best in everything as usual." The CO thumped himself down in the chair opposite and shoved his cap back on his head.

Ernst sat up straighter and waited for what would happen next, Christian remained just as he was, side to the table, his long legs stretched out and crossed at the booted ankles.

"I do have some good news. We aren't flying escort this afternoon. We've been given a free hunt."

Christian sat up straighter. "That's more like it!"

"Apparently, Galland and Moelders talked Fatty into more of them."

"Of course! Gives them a better chance to run up their own scores." Christian's tone was instantly sneering again.

"Don't be jealous, Feldburg. It demeans you. Your own score could be higher, after all...."

Christian looked sharply at Ernst, but he knew Ernst hadn't betrayed him. Ernst had offered to lie for him outright. As Christian had jumped down after returning from yesterday's sortie, Ernst had been waiting for him to ask in a low voice, "Do you want me to say I saw it go in?"

"Of course not," Christian had retorted.

"But we can't claim it as it is," Ernst had protested in distress. "The engine was dead an the pilot was about to bail out, but we scared him back into the cockpit."

"So, we don't claim it," Christian had told him simply. "We don't say anything about it at all."

Ernst had done just that, so how had the CO found out about it? Or was he referring to something else?

The CO stood up again. "You need to decide what it is you want, Feldburg. No knowing might be dangerous one day."

 


 "This is the best book on the life of us fighter pilots in the Battle of Britain that I have ever seen.... I couldn't put it down."-- RAF Battle of Britain ace, Wing Commander Bob Doe.

Winner of a Hemingway Award for 20th Century Wartime Fiction, a Maincrest Media Award for Military Fiction and Silver in the Global Book Awards.

Find out more at: https://crossseaspress.com/where-eagles-never-flew

 

 

 

Riding the icy, moonlit sky,

they took the war to Hitler. 

Their chances of survival were less than fifty percent. 

Their average age was 21.

This is the story of just one bomber pilot, his crew and the woman he loved. 

It is intended as a tribute to them all.  

Buy now on amazon

or Barnes and Noble

 

Disfiguring injuries, class prejudice and PTSD are the focus of three heart-wrenching tales set in WWII by award-winning novelist Helena P. Schrader. Find out more at: https://crossseaspress.com/grounded-eagles


 

 

 

 

For more information about all my books visit: https://www.helenapschrader.com