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 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"


"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.  

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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




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