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From the Scrapbooks: Battle Birds Covers

Link - Posted by David on December 13, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS Holiday Season we’re delving into a pair of scrapbooks that were created in the late 20’s and early 30’s by an industrious youth, Robert A. O’Neil, with a keen interest in all things aviation. The books contain clippings, photos and articles from various aviation pulps as well as other magazines. What has been assembled is a treasure trove of information on planes and aces of WWI.

Like many in the late 20’s and early 30’s, Robert O’Neil was fascinated with aviation and as such, a large part of both volumes of his scrapbooks is taken up with a cataloging of the many different types of planes. In addition to Flying Aces’ “War Planes Album” and Sky Birds’ “Model Planes of All Nations”, Robert also featured Frederick Blakeslee’s magnificent Battle Aces covers.


The section features it’s own introductory page

Although the first scrapbook featured the cover of the premiere issue of Battle Birds on its cover, Robert’s scrapbooked covers from Battle Birds were in the second book along with the Battle Aces covers. Unlike the scrapbooked Battle Aces covers, Robert trimmed off the text portions of the covers and just included Blakeslee’s great arial combat illustration portion.

When possible, he made note of the planes Blakeslee portrayed on the covers!



May 33


Dare-Devil Aces
Jan ‘33


Feb ‘33


Jan ‘33


Dec ‘32


Apr ‘33


Jul ‘33


Jun ‘33


Aug ‘33


Dare-Devil Aces
Jun ‘33


Mar ‘33


Sep ‘33

 

From the Scrapbooks: Blakeslee’s Plane Plans

Link - Posted by David on December 10, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS Holiday Season we’re delving into a pair of scrapbooks that were created in the late 20’s and early 30’s by an industrious youth, Robert A. O’Neil, with a keen interest in all things aviation. The books contain clippings, photos and articles from various aviation pulps as well as other magazines. What has been assembled is a treasure trove of information on planes and aces of WWI.

Like many in the late 20’s and early 30’s, Robert O’Neil was fascinated with aviation and as such, a large part of both volumes of his scrapbooks is taken up with a cataloging of the many different types of planes.

Another great feature from the pulps Robert chose to include in his scrapbooks were Frederick Blakeslee’s 3 plan views of planes that he rendered for Battle Aces.

Rather than giving each its own page, Robert chose to glue one down along the top edge and then slot a few others beneath it, loose on the page. He had the first four on the first page, three on the second and just two on the third, although he appears to have gotten the September issue as well.



German
Fokker D-7
Dec ‘32


British
S.E.5-A
Jan ‘33


Pfalz Scout
type DXII
Feb ‘33


Bristol Fighter
type F2B
Mar ‘33


German
Friedrichshafen Bomber
Apr ‘33


Sopwith
“Snipe”
May ‘33


Halberstadt C4
Jun ‘33


Westland Wagtail
Jul ‘33


Halberstadt C2
Aug ‘33

 

From the Scrapbooks: A Letter from George Bruce

Link - Posted by David on December 8, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS Holiday Season we’re delving into a pair of scrapbooks that were created in the late 20’s and early 30’s by an industrious youth, Robert A. O’Neil, with a keen interest in all things aviation. The books contain clippings, photos and articles from various aviation pulps as well as other magazines. What has been assembled is a treasure trove of information on planes and aces of WWI.

Like many in the late 20’s and early 30’s, Robert O’Neil was fascinated with aviation and as such, a large part of both volumes of his scrapbooks is taken up with a cataloging of the many different types of planes. But amongst all the planes and air race flyers and info on Aces are some surprising items.

Turning the page, is what looks like a letter, folded into thirds like it had just been pulled out of an envelope and pasted to the page. . .

Unfolding the sheet of paper reveals a letter from George Bruce on his own letterhead addressed to Robert from July 28th, 1932!

George Bruce was a prolific pulp writer and heavily involved with the initial year of Sky Fighters Magazine. He not only has a story in each of the first year’s issues, but also his own column in the back, “George Bruce Says” in which he answer any questions which the reader may have about the how, where or whens of flying, past, present or future. He even listed those readers whose letters he would reply to personally—and the list was quite long for those who had written in for the first issue (and whose letters had arrived by July 15th)!

Writing from Provincetown, Massachusetts, Bruce says:

Dear Bob:

    I am sorry I have not had an earlier opportunity to reply to your letter. I spent the first part of this month in a hospital in New Bedford, Massachusetts, where a group of surgeons could not resist a curiosity as to what was contained in the Bruce belly. In otner words I underwent an emergency operation caused by acute appendicitis, and was out of the picture for a few days. Please let me offer my thanks and gratitude for your letter. You may be sure it was appreciated and read with much interest and it reached me at a time when I needed all of the friendliness and interest you expressed, I’m quite sure that the mail carrier who delivers to St. Luke Hospital will never forgive George Bruce and will be permanently round-shouldered because of carrying into the hospital hundreds of letters from all over the country from fellows who had been readers, but who, in writing those letters, became friends.

    I hope through the medium of SKY FIGHTERS and your continued interest in George Bruce this friendship will extend inflefinitely.

                    Sincerely yours,

                                                George Bruce.

   

Editor’s note: Robert also got his name listed in the following issue as one of the runner-ups for the second round of the “Win Your Wings” Contest. The Sky Fighters “Win Your Wings” contest was not a contest to win actual wings, but rather cash prizes and foster continued readership of their new magazine. Each month for the first six months of the magazine, they posed a question. The reader with the best response would win $5 while 20 runners up would win $1. Robert was one of the runner-ups for the second round. At the end, the reader with the best record over the six questions would win the grand prize of $100!

From the Scrapbooks: Battle Aces Covers

Link - Posted by David on December 6, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS Holiday Season we’re delving into a pair of scrapbooks that were created in the late 20’s and early 30’s by an industrious youth, Robert A. O’Neil, with a keen interest in all things aviation. The books contain clippings, photos and articles from various aviation pulps as well as other magazines. What has been assembled is a treasure trove of information on planes and aces of WWI.

Like many in the late 20’s and early 30’s, Robert O’Neil was fascinated with aviation and as such, a large part of both volumes of his scrapbooks is taken up with a cataloging of the many different types of planes. In addition to Flying Aces’ “War Planes Album” and Sky Birds’ “Model Planes of All Nations”, Robert also featured Frederick Blakeslee’s magnificent Battle Aces covers.

The second scrapbook which features the March 1932 Battle Aces cover as it’s cover, starts off with a collection of Blakeslee’s covers. each speed features a full fresh-off-the-newsstand cover and the story behind the cover lovingly typed on the facing page. I don’t know why he didn’t just clip out the story page from the issue instead, although he did clip out Blakeslee’s pen and ink rendering of the featured cover plane on several pages of those images collaged together.

He does not have all the Blakeslee Battle Aces covers, but he does have a majority of them.


He included the picture of O.B. Myers with the write-up for the November 1931 cover which tells how O.B. got his D.S.C.


Similarly, he includes Wilbert Wallace White’s picture with Blakeslee’s cover about White. (January 1932)

Covers he includes are:



Jan ‘32


Feb ‘32


Mar ‘32


Apr ‘32


May ‘31


Jun ‘31


Jun ‘32


Jul ‘32


Jul ‘31


Aug ‘31


Sep ‘31


Oct ‘31


Nov ‘31


Dec ‘31


Dec ‘32

From the Scrapbooks: Aces of Note

Link - Posted by David on December 3, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS Holiday Season we’re delving into a pair of scrapbooks that were created in the late 20’s and early 30’s by an industrious youth, Robert A. O’Neil, with a keen interest in all things aviation. The books contain clippings, photos and articles from various aviation pulps as well as other magazines. What has been assembled is a treasure trove of information on planes and aces of WWI.

Like many in the late 20’s and early 30’s, Robert O’Neil was fascinated with aviation and not just the planes, but also some of the men who made a name for themselves flying them in The Great War.

Chronicled within the pages of the scrapbooks are such Aces the likes of:


Billy Bishop

and The Red Baron himself––


Baron Manfred von Richthofen

He has a page devoted to Rickenbacker’s Victories

And includes the four installments of Flying Aces’ “Lives of the Aces in Pictures”. Here, he’s taken the images from the two page feature (as they were in the pulp-sized issues), pasted them on a page with the accompanying captions, typed out on the facing page.


Eddie Rickenbacker, America’s Ace

He gave the same treatment for the Lives of Bert Hall, Soldier of Fortune (Flying Aces, June 1932), Georges Guynemer, Falcon of France (July 1932), and Lt. Werner Voss, German Ace (July 1933) as illustrated in pictures.

Scattered throughout are various mentions of aces from the pulps or the newspapers or other magazines.

From the Scrapbooks: Planes of the World

Link - Posted by David on December 1, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS Holiday Season we’re delving into a pair of scrapbooks that were created in the late 20’s and early 30’s by an industrious youth, Robert A. O’Neil, with a keen interest in all things aviation. The books contain clippings, photos and articles from various aviation pulps as well as other magazines. What has been assembled is a treasure trove of information on planes and aces of WWI.

Like many in the late 20’s and early 30’s, Robert O’Neil was fascinated with aviation and as such, a large part of both volumes of his scrapbooks is taken up with a cataloging of the many different types of planes. Many of the aviation pulps featured monthly articles on this subject. Flying Aces called theirs “War Planes Album”. Each month they featured six planes with a simple illustration by C.B. Colby and an informative write-up on each of the planes.


Two of the six planes featured in the November 1932 Flying Aces

Good news for those who wanted to clip and save the plane images and paste them into an album as Robert had done, the illustrations were laid out in the article so no two images would be on the back of the other.


The opening spread of the “Model Planes of All Nations” from (Sky Birds, November 1931).

Robert also clipped similar images also by Colby from Sky Birds’ monthly feature “Model Planes of All Nations.” Sky Birds’ feature was essentially the same as Flying Aces’ feature. You get six planes an issue.


Two of the six planes featured in the November 1931 Sky Birds

Robert generally featured two images per page, but for a few, he pasted a single image on the page and below it typed the informative part of the article about that plane.

From the Scrapbooks: The Air Races

Link - Posted by David on November 29, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS Holiday Season we’re delving into a pair of scrapbooks that were created in the late 20’s and early 30’s by an industrious youth, Robert A. O’Neil, with a keen interest in all things aviation. The books contain clippings, photos and articles from various aviation pulps as well as other magazines. What has been assembled is a treasure trove of information on planes and aces of WWI.

THIS week we have One of the areas that Robert was interested in were the new and exciting Air Races! The races included a variety of events, like landing contests, glider demonstrations, airship fights, parachute-jumping contests, and of course, the races themselves—both closed-course and cross-country. The cross-country races were usually from Portland or Los Angeles to Cleveland. Robert included information on five different air shows from 1928-1933, and his ticket stub for two of them.

1928 National Air Races & Aeronautical Exposition
Los Angeles

Robert would have been 17 when the 1928 National Air Races and Aeronautical Exposition took place at Mines Field in Los Angeles over nine days in September that year. Mines Field would eventually become LAX. Robert includes his ticket for the show. He went on “Boy Scouts Day” for 25¢. I couldn’t find out which day that would have been, but from the program, I see the L.A. Boy Scouts Band opened the night time programming the first two days.

Just the first two days alone had more planes than anyone would want. Saturday’s show started off with 300 airplanes in mass formation, to Dare-devil pilot Al Wilson to 7 US Marine Curtiss Falcons in formation to the Army’s version followed by the Navy’s and so on. There were parachuting demonstrations both during the day and with flares at night! There were all manner of air extravaganzas culminating in a spectacular fireworks display.

The Homestead Blog and Davis-Monthan Aviation Field Register have excellent articles about the races that year. There is even a home movie of some of the show on YouTube.

1929 Western Aircraft Show
Los Angeles

Robert also included his ticket and logo decal for the Western Aircraft Show of 1929. The Western Aircraft Show was held on a large undeveloped property at the northwest corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue. Today this is the home of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures and the La Brea Tar Pits on the northeastern corner and the Petersen Automotive Museum on the southeast corner.

The Homestead Blog comes through with an informative article on the Western Aircraft Show.

1931 National Air Races
Cleveland

There is no evidence that Robert traveled to Cleveland to see the National Air Races there in 1931. He does include a couple decals of the show’s Pilot’s head with trailing scarf logo as well as a promotional mini-poster.

1933 International Air Races and Gordon Bennett Race
Chicago

Like the Cleveland races, there is no evidence that Robert traveled to the International Air Races and Gordon Bennett Race held in Chicago the first four days of September 1933. He did write for information, and has put the letter he received along with a brochure into his scrapbooks.

1933 National Air Races
Los Angeles

Robert did not include a ticket for the 1933 Races, but he could easily have attended the show. In his scrap books he includes numerous decals from the show—both the large three headed one as well as the smaller medallion sized version, including one on the spine of the one scrapbook.

The Races returned to Mines Field for four days in July 1933. The programs shortened to four days and restricted to high speed free-for-all competition in the several commercial competitive motor groups with $50,000.00 cash prize money in addition to many coveted trophies. This international free-for-all competition included the trans-continental Vincent Bendix Trophy Race; the Aerol Trophy Race—a closed course free-for-all for women pilots; the Speed Dashes; Official World Record Attempts to establish three-kilometer strightaway speed in excess of 300 M.P.H.; and the Charles E. Thompson Trophy Race, closed course land plane classic, which has been increased to a distance of 200 miles. The Bendix Trophy Race attracted such big names as Roscoe Turner, Jimmy Wedell, Ruth Nichols, and Amelia Earhart, with Roscoe Turner taking first.

As always, there were demonstrations by the armed Military and Naval Air Forces of the United States of the latest Military and Naval Air maneuvers; as well as acrobatic demonstrations and spectacular night aerial demonstrations and pyrotechnic displays.

The Los Angeles Times covered the event publishing several spreads of pictures from the events.

The Robert A. O’Neil Scrapbooks

Link - Posted by David on November 26, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

RECENTLY, Age of Aces came into possession of a pair of Aviation Scrapbooks. These scrapbooks are hand made with roughly 170 8″ x 10.5″ pages each, bound together with string. Pasted on the pages are photos, drawings and articles of early aviation history excised from pulp magazines like Battle Birds, Battle Aces, Sky Birds and Flying Aces as well as other sources from 1928 to the mid-1930’s. Typed descriptions accompany some of the pulp illustrations. Also included are ephemera from Air Shows, letters from the magazine publishers, photo postcards of airplanes and the air battle histories of Aces like Rickenbacker and Richtofen. They are a deeply personal endeavour by a young man clearly intrigued by the development of early aviation and its practical application in war.

The scrapbooks were compiled by Robert Alfred O’Neil. Looking around on ancestry.com a bit, Robert was born on July 3rd, 1911 in Kansas City, Missouri. He has a sister, Evelyn, who is a year older. Some time in the early twenties the family moved to Los Angeles. Robert had a brief letter published about his first train ride in The Long Beach Telegram (April 16, 1924).

According to the date on the title page of the first Scrapbook, Robert started them January 1, 1928.

The 1930 census lists Robert as being 18, still living with his parents and 19 year old sister, and working as a messenger for a bank.

The 1940 census has Robert, now 28, living with just his mother on West 21st Street in Los Angeles and pulling in $1,104 a year as a bookkeeper. But by the following March when he filled out his draft registration card, it seems Robert was finally applying his knowledge and love of aviation—he listed his employer as Lockheed Aircraft! (His sister and her husband were living just down the street.)

Starting Monday, and on subsequent Wednesdays, Fridays and Mondays all December, we’ll be taking a look at Robert’s scrapbooks and the treasures within. So be sure to check back for a look back some things we’ve already featured on the site that Robert included in his scrapbooks as well as some exciting new discoveries! We’ll get things started on Monday when we go to the Air Races!

The Battle Birds Club

Link - Posted by David on April 15, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

JUST as Popular Publications shut down their original air magazine Battle Aces in December 1932, leaving Dare-Devil Aces to shoulder the hopes and dreams of the air-minded reader, it launched a new magazine that same month—Battle Birds. Although neither Dare-Devil Aces or Battle Aces had a club associated with it, when Battle Birds started, the letters pages were already buzzing with talk of a Battle Birds Club to provide a forum for air-minded readers to share their hopes, dreams and knowledge with similar minded individuals. (Popular was quick to start a club for G-8 when Battle Aces was relaunched as G-8 and his Battle Aces in October 1933.)

The Battle Birds Club was open to all air-minded readers. Anyone could join by simply stating they wanted to and they would be sent a blue membership card. This card would display the members group-squadron-flight number, derived as follows: The country would be broken down into three regions—these three being the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Pursuit Groups—and a fourth, FL, for foreign readers classified in the ‘Foreign Legion’; each state a squadron number; and every 8 members within said state a lettered flight as they are recorded.

Several months in to the magazine’s publication, a wings pin fashioned after the letters page header was on offer. To obtain the wings pin, a member needed only to answer the question presented in the issue and send along 25¢.

a BATTLE BIRDS CLUB timeline

DECEMBER 1932

  • Application for membership starts in first issue—wanting to know how air-minded the reader is and what he’d like to read about in the club pages

JANUARY 1933

  • Discusses the division of the country into three groups—1st, 2nd and 3rd Pursuit groups. Your group number will be on your card.
  • Foreign readers who join will be in the “Foreign Legion” and their cards will be marked with “F.L.” Each state a squadron number and every 8 members within said state a lettered flight as they are recorded.

FEBRUARY 1933

  • First names of members are listed with addresses.

MARCH 1933

  • The membership cards have all been printed and many have been sent out.
  • More names in the honor roll of new selected members.
  • Talk of figuring out a way whereby members can earn their wings!

APRIL 1933

  • Membership cards are mentioned as being blue!
  • A list of applicants who failed to include the town they’re from.
  • More names for the honor roll.
  • Still working on a way to earn your wings.

MAY 1933

  • Asking the readers to write in yes or no if they’d be interested in a club pin.
  • The usual listing of new members.

JUNE 1933

  • Listing of new members—mostly from Cincinnati.
  • Mentioned there are a lot of foreign readers from all parts of the world!

JULY 1933

  • Listing of more new members.

AUGUST 1933

  • The Pins are ready! They will be in the design of the club emblem (a shield with BB emblazed on it with wings) and cast from sterling silver. To earn the pin you must send in the correct answer to the question that issue along with 25¢. You can still earn your wings even if you haven’t recieved your card yet.
  • First up: “What makes an airplane stay up?”
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

SEPTEMBER 1933

  • Earn your Wings question: “What are the principle parts of a plane and what are they used for?
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

OCTOBER 1933

  • Earn your Wings question: “What would be the first thing to do, and why, if your motor quit just after taking off?”
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

NOVEMBER 1933

  • Earn your Wings question: “What are the three axes of a plane and where are they?”
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

DECEMBER 1933

  • The pins are in the same design as that appearing at the top of the membership card and include a safety latch to prevent being lost.
  • Earn your Wings question: “Why are superchargers used on altitude flights?”
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

JANUARY 1934

  • A lot of membership cards sent out have been returned due to incorrect addresses.
  • Earn your Wings question: “What is the advantage of an adjustable pitch ‘prop’?”
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

FEBRUARY 1934

  • Still harping on the large number of returned cards due to incorrect addresses.
  • Earn your Wings question: “If a man jumps from a plane going three hundred miles an hour and does not open his chute ’til he has fallen a mile (5,280 feet) how fast will he be going when he opens his chute?”
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

MARCH 1934

  • A mention of the price of silver has jumped up from 30¢ an ounce to over a $1.25. They DID buy quite a few of the sterling pins a few months ago when silver was a lot less than it is now so they can still give out pins for about what they cost them.
  • Earn your Wings question: “Why is glider flying the ideal preliminary step to power plane piloting?”
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

APRIL 1934

  • “The Skipper” says he has to sign a couple thousand more membership cards for new members.
  • Earn your Wings question: “How do dirigibles make up the weight lost by the gasoline being burned away in the engines?”
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

MAY 1934

  • The pins are described as such: “These pins are exact duplicates of the insignia that appears at the head of the department and upon your membership cards. Fitted with a safety clasp to prevent loss, and finished in the new dull manner, they are about the best looking club pins we have ever seen.”
  • Earn your Wings question: “Does the breeze behind a propeller increase with its speed, no matter how fast it travels?”
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

JUNE 1934

  • (FINAL ISSUE) Still taking applications for membership!
  • Earn your Wings question: “When, where and by whom was the first balloon used in warfare?”
  • More names on the Honor Roll of New Members.

 

WITH the July Issue, BATTLE BIRDS changes it’s name to DUSTY AYRES and his BATTLE BIRDS and it’s focus. The lead story will now feature the exploits of Dusty Ayres and his Battle Birds and what could happen in a possible future war. The Battle Bird Club continues, but will now be known as the Hanger Flying Club although new pins will not be produced. All previous members of the Battle Birds Club are automatically members of this new club. The new club’s focus is on being prepared for any future wars that may arise. New members can still aquire a Battle Birds wings pin for 25¢ if so desired—but the feeling in your heart is more important than a pin on your chest!

JULY 1934

  • The letters page now run by The Skipper (Sid Bowen) is titled HANGER FLYING (also the name of the new club)
  • The first column discusses the “war in the future” which is the setting for the Dusty Ayres tales. All readers should be prepared if and when this war should come.
  • “Of course, all the fellows who are members of the old Battle Birds club, automatically become members of this new club that is dedicated to national preparedness for the safety of our country If you have a B.B. pin, be sure to wear it, because it signifies that you’re a real American and ready to do all you can to preserve all the things that we Americans hold closest tour hearts. Those of you who haven’t a pin and want one, just send in your request and twenty-five cents to the skipper, and I’ll make darn sure that you’ll get one by return mail. But listen fellows, just one more thing before I close up; a pin is a pin and it doesn’t mean a thing if there isn’t the thought behind it. It’s the true feeling in your heart that counts, wether you wear the club pin or not.

AUGUST 1934

  • No mention of the club or pin in the HANGER FLYING column.
  • You can get the previous issue for 20¢ (with 5¢ for postage)

SEPTEMBER 1934

  • Readers have been sending in requests for Mr. Blakeslee and the skipper to dope out three-view drawings of the Silver Flash and the Dart, but the request is turned back on the readers to send in their own three-view drawings of Dusty’s ships.
  • Some readers have already crafted models of said planes—if you have, by all means send in a photo of your model.
  • reiterates that members of the old club are definitely members of the new club. To join just let the skipper know you want to join, and if you want a club pin just send in 25¢ in cash or stamps.
  • The skipper says: “Very soon I’m going to have some new HANGER FLYING CLUB membership cards printed. They will be free to whoever wants one. When they’re ready I’ll let you know, and you can then let me know if you want one.
  • “But as I said at the very beginning of these meetings, a pin or a membership card does not mean a thing if the spirit isn’t right there in the old heart. We are pledging ourselves to do everything possible for ever-lasting peace, happiness and prosperity for the peoples of this wonderful country of ours—the greatest in all the wide world. And if we keep that thought close to our hearts every minute of the day, it doesn’t matter how many pins we wear, or how many membership cards we carry around.”

OCTOBER 1934

  • The skipper says the lads write all the time inquiring after the club—it’s just 25¢ cash or stamps (to cover the cost of the pin) to Skipper Sid Bowen, Popular Publications, Inc., 205 East 2nd Street, New York, New York
  • Says the Battle Birds club has been thriving for a long time, and anyone who joined it before Dusty Ayres yarns appeared is still a member
  • Skipper says, “I’ve got swell plans for the club, that I hope to get underway tan early date.”

NOVEMBER 1934

  • No real mention of the club aside from a reference to the silver wings. A reader writes in: “Why not have cloth wings of red, white and blue? Make them out of the material that high school letters are made of. Make them three inches long and two inches wide.”
  • The Skipper (Sid Bowen) writes: “There it is. Do you agree with Ed, or are the silver wings we have now, okay? Mull it over and let’s hear what you think.”
  • Also a mention to send in your plane designs and the Skipper and Mr Blakeslee will look them over and use one in the story—maybe even on the cover. Design credit will be given!

DECEMBER 1934

  • Asks readers if they’d like to see some female characters added to the stories.
  • Apologizes for the club membership cards not being ready yet!
  • “It has been suggested that since the old Battle Birds club was divided up into squadrons, the same should be done with the Dusty Ayres gang. If chaps in your neighborhood want to form a Dusty Ayres Group, just send in your names, and I’ll put them in the very next Hanger Flying Department. To each Group can be attached the name of the city or town where you lads live. Or if you wish you can have a number instead of a name. Work it out thought, you lads who were in the old club—in squadrons, etc—can just simply make it a Dusty Ayres Group.”
  • Reader’s three view plans of the Silver Flash

JANUARY 1935

  • Some readers have expressed a desire to have a model company make models of the Silver Flash to sell. The Skipper doesn’t mind, but thinks readers would want to make their own. But he’ll look into getting it done if there’s enough interest.
  • A reader inquires about a flying course in the magazine. The Skippers says he did that once (Sky Fighters) and it was even published as a book.
  • Reader’s three view plans of the Silver Flash

FEBRUARY 1935

  • Several lads have had their 25¢ club pins returned by the post office due to bad addresses.
  • A list of readers who’d like to hear from other Dusty Ayres fans. (Pen Pals)
  • The Skipper (Sid Bowen) addresses the matter of club pins and membership cards: “The membership card is free to anybody who wants to join. Simply let me know and I’ll send you one. If you want the club pin you can have one by sending in twenty-five cents in cash or stamps. But—and get this—owning a club pin does not mean you are a better member than a chap with simply the membership card. The Skipper writes Dusty yarns—he’s not in the pin business. We have pins only because a lot of the fellows wanted one to wear.”
  • Reader’s three view plans of the Ships of the Future (2 pgs)

MARCH 1935

  • Fred Blakeslee has just returned from a swell vacation and will resume his art duties next month.
  • Please ink your plane designs for better reproduction.
  • A list of readers who’d like to hear from other Dusty Ayres fans (Pen Pals)
  • Reader’s three view plans of the Ships of the Future (2pgs)

APRIL 1935

  • Be sure to send in your plane designs in ink—Fred Blakeslee doesn’t have the time to do it for you
  • A list of readers who’d like to hear from other Dusty Ayres fans (Pen Pals)
  • Reader’s three view plans of the Ships of the Future (3pgs)

MAY/JUNE 1935

  • The skipper suggests writing to your local radio station if you’d like to hear Dusty in yarns written for the radio.
  • A list of readers who’d like to hear from other Dusty Ayres fans (Pen Pals)
  • Reader’s three view plans of the Ships of the Future (4pgs)
  • a ”certificate of truth” is printed on the letters page to send in with your drawings stating you are the artist.

JULY/AUGUST 1935

  • No mention of the club, cards or pins.
  • A list of readers who’d like to hear from other Dusty Ayres fans (Pen Pals)
  • Reader’s three view plans of the Ships of the Future (5pgs)
  • The Skipper acknowledges that this is the last issue but keep those Dusty clubs going!

The club does not pick up when the magazine resumes publication as BATTLE BIRDS in 1940.

Harold Fraser Cruickshank (1893-1979)

Link - Posted by David on February 26, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS month we’re spotlighting the work of Canada’s favorite son, Harold F. Cruickshank. We’ve had some good stories the past couple weeks spanning his pulp career. Unfortunately, like all great things, it must come to an end. And we’re ending our month devoted to Harold F. Cruickshank with his obituary.

In finding his obituary, we discovered that his lifespan as listed around the internet is wrong. He did not pass in 1965, but fourteen years later on March 31st, 1979—ten days after his 86th birthday!

So, without further ado—

War-era author dies after lengthy illness

Edmonton Journal, Edmonton, Canada • Tuesday, 3 April 1979, pD8

One of Edmonton’s most prolific authors, Harold Cruickshank, is dead at 86.

The writer of numerous action-adventure stories, Mr. Cruickshank died Saturday in the Misericordia Hospital. He had been in failing health for several months.

His early wartime stories appeared regularly in American, Canadian and British ‘pulp’ magazines, so named because they were printed on newsprint rather than fine paper. They were often looked upon as being too racy.

Mr. Cruickshank’s career began in the early 1920s and continued almost to his death, though he actually began writing while fighting in Belgium in 1915.

Soldiers in his battalion, the 7th Canadian Infantry, were asked to write something to keep them busy. For his piece he received first prize. It was later sold and published in a British magazine.

After being wounded in the Battle of the Somme, he was discharged in 1918.

Bom in Wales of Scottish parents, he emigrated to Alberta with his father and brother in 1905 settling near Barrhead. But because of his health he was unable to return to homesteading and settled in Edmonton where he worked for the education department.

In his spare time he became one of the more popular pulp authors. He began writing full-time, selling his first major story in 1923 to Western Home Monthly, forerunner of Chatelaine.

He often produced and sold up to eight 6,000-word stories a month published under various pseudonyms, the most well-known being Bert Fraser.

Stories ran in such famous magazines of the day as Battle Stories, Battle Birds, Battling Aces, Dare-devil Aces, Air War and Sky Fighters, under titles like “The Village of The Living Dead,” “Judgment of The War Gods” and “Where Death Lurks Deep.”

Drawing on his own war experiences as background, his characters were often involved in war exploits. He created heroes like Captain Bill Dawe the Sky Devil, a First World War flying ace, whose escapades were run in serials. Dawe was patterned after Mr. Cruickshank’s own infantry commander.

As the demand for war stories began to fade he turned to writing wilderness adventure stories based on his early homesteading experiences.

In addition to changing times, he also found himself competing with other popular pulp writers of the day — Erie Stanley Gardner, Luke Short, James Warner Bellah and George Fielding Eliot.

The emergence of modem magazines, paperbacks and television eventually killed the pulp magazines, a situation which Mr. Cruickshank, according to son-in-law Bert Nightingale, found disturbing.

“He worried about its effects on young people,” said Mr. Nightingale. “While he did not have a simon pure attitude, he felt his writing as it used to be was more suitable.”

Mr. Cruickshank was also a frequent contributor to Liberty and Maclean’s magazines, as well as to the old Edmonton Journal feature Third Column.

Recent works were published in Heritage Magazine and other government publications. Tie received an Alberta Achievement Award for writings on pioneer life.

Mr. Cruickshank lived at 10925 126th St. for almost 40 years. He is survived by his wife, Dolly; a daughter, Edith (Scotty) Nightingale; two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. A son, John, died in 1945.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Foster and McGarvey Chapel.

Cruickshank’s Adventures in Pulps

Link - Posted by David on February 1, 2021 @ 6:00 am in

THIS month we’re spotlighting the work of Canada’s favorite son, Harold F. Cruickshank. The following article from 1974 acts as a fine introduction to this prolific pulp author!

Adventures with Pulps

The Leader Post, Regina, Canada • 6 September 1974, p14

EDMONTON (CP) — Harold Cruickshank says a “green hungry monster’’ has swallowed up the kind of adventure literature he once wrote and peddled to pulp magazines.

Cruickshank, 81, has spent most of his life creating action-adventure heroes but says his brand of story has been replaced with “sex, violence, and pornography, the very things which we tried to keep from the eyes of our younger folk.”

For 55 years Mr. Cruickshank, whose characters include the Sky Devil and Keko the wolf, wrote for pulp magazines, those publications printed on newsprint rather than fine paper.

During his peak he knocked off eight 6,000-word stories a month with titles like The Village of the Living Dead, Judgment of the War Gods and Where Death Lurks Deep.

Using pseudonyms, some magazines ran as many as three Cruickshank stories in a single issue.

“Certainly the pulps caried stories of violence, but it was a violence of a defensive nature.

“When we killed somebody it was because we knew damn well he was about to kill us, not out of any desire to kill.”

Mr. Cruickshank’s war adventure stories were based on his own combat experience during two world wars.

His best-known war hero, First World War flying ace Capt. Bill Dawe, The Sky Devil, had a real life model in Mr. Cruickshank’s own infantry commander.

He said young readers who patterned themselves after heroes like the Sky Devil and formed fan clubs to honor the fictional adventurers were doing a good thing.

The pulp magazines such as Battle Stories, Dare-Devil Aces and Sky Fighters, popular between the 1920s and the early 1950s, sold for a quarter or less.

“The critics thought the pulps should be hidden under rocks and only read on rainy days,” said Mr. Cruickshank.

“Some of the greatest writers in the world wrote for the pulps. People who also wrote for the Saturday Evening Post, Colliers and Redbook.”

“A writer for the pulp magazines had to be continually alert to cope with the changing trends. And you had to compete with the cream of the pulp people.

“When I first started off the demand was for war stories. When they faded you had to switch to air war stories.”

When that fad passed a demand for wilderness adventure grew and Cruickshank met it with his profitable series about Keko the wolf.

The series jelled during the Depression when Mr. Cruickshank saw a German shepherd and a golden collie playing together in the snow.

“At that point I conceived in ray mind’s eye the product of a mating between a wolf and a collie.

“I developed this idea into a series of animal adventure stories running several years in one of the western magazines. I later compiled the stories into a book.**

Mr. Cruickshank launched his career when he was asked to write about his war comrades in Belgium in 1918.

He received a prize for a story and continued writing in his spare time in Alberta.

In 1923 he sold his first major piece to Western Home Monthly, Chatelaine’s forerunner, and a demand grew for his stories.

“For 55 years I wrote more magazine stories than most writers in the country, the U.S. and elsewhere and nobody cared.

“Now they come around giving me halos for what I’ve done. Not that I’m complaining, you understand, I always considered I was just doing a job, like a carpenter or anybody else.”

Mr. Cruickshank now writes technical guides for would-be writers and instructional articles on homesteading for government publications.

The article above Is a combination of two versions of the same article. The one in The Regina Leader Post is the most complete version. The one in the Advocate is more edited, but includes the final paragraph.

William E. Barrett: Sign In and Tell Us About Yourself

Link - Posted by David on November 2, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

William E. Barrett is one of our favorite authors. Before he became renown for such classics as The Left Hand of God and Lilies of The Field, Barrett honed his craft across the pages of the pulp magazines—writing all matter of stories from Mystery to Detective to Aviation and War. Here at Age of Aces Books he’s best known for his nine Iron Ace stories which ran in Sky Birds in the mid ’30s!

Sign In

Recently I picked up a couple of issues of Dime Detective Magazine from 1935—May 15th and October, both featuring William E. Barrett’s unconventional crime solver, tattoo artist Needle Mike. And both featuring great Walter Baumhofer covers! Pretty decent shape for their price aside from the fact someone had to write their name across the guy’s chest on the May issue.

As I looked at it, I was thinking it looked familiar. . .
It couldn’t be . . .
. . . but I think it is.

Matching it up with other examples I have . . .

it matches pretty well—I think it’s William E Barrett’s signature scrawled across the chinaman’s chest! I got me a surprise signed copy!

And Tell Us About Yourself

SINCE William E. Barrett’s birthday is on the 16th of this month, we’re celebrating Barrett all month long with one of his stories each of the next three Fridays. To lay a little ground work, here is an autobiography Barrett had in the first and only issue of the digest-sized Swift Story Magazine (It fits in your pocket!) from November 1930:

I VENTED my first squawk at life in the City of New York on November 16, 1900. It was snowing like blazes that day, if I remember rightly. Anyway, 1 managed to survive the hazards of Manhattan boyhood until I was sixteen, then, while the native New Yorkers of my age were pouring in from Kansas, Missouri and Minnesota, I followed the family star of destiny to Colorado. I had prepared at Manhattan College Prep in New York for an engineering career, but this proved to be a misdeal and I took a whirl at reporting for a Denver daily. I never progressed past the cub stage and was fervently advised by a harassed city ed. that I never would. After that I became one of the young men who signed the coupon.

I took a correspondence course in engineering and went to work for a power company, continuing the engineering studies at night. After several years of misery at the drafting board an engineer, who took pride in his profession, intervened.

“Get thee into publicity work,” he said. “I’ll help you. Anything which reduces the quota of rotten engineers is a blessing, even if it adds to the ranks of the press agents.”

A publicity job with a big electrical manufacturer took me all over the West—mining camps, oil towns and every place where spectacular installations were made.

But presently some base deceiver told me about the big pay and easy hours in fictioneering and I tried my hand. By the time I found out the horrible truth, I was too badly bitten by the bug ever to escape. I learned to fly with the idea of writing air stories that would be authentic, then took a publicity job with a large aircraft company for about a year. Derek Dane was evolved out of the experiences of that year which brought me in touch with many characters fully as picturesque in background as Dane—men to whom the dramatic is daily fare.

Not because Mr. Patten is the boss when I write for you, but because it is so, I want to acknowledge him as one of the biggest influences in my life—that before I even knew his name was Patten. His Merriwell stories dominated my youth, and nobody ever toiled harder to be like some one than I did to be like Frank Merriwell. Not at all athletic, nor inclined to “big” effort, I still managed to make four school letters struggling to be Merriwell. Many other decisions were Merriwell colored, too—and a career is only a series of effects from a multitude of small decisions. I have two trunks of Merriwells—every one published—and will have my boy read them some time.

My total published stuff, if any one cares, is 263 short stories, 10 complete novels, 18 novelettes and countless articles. In Derek Dane I am not trying to create a detective of the master-mind school. Great thinkers are not lions for courage—thought convinces them of the folly of risk. I am thinking of the men who brought the law to the wilderness in the first place (the same type who will bring it back when it strays). Most of them were men who sought escape from the law some place else— not sticklers for the fine points of the written law, but foursquare for a square deal and for the rights of human beings to live their lives and keep what they have. Derek Dane stands for that and, if he steps outside the statute book to get results, he has fundamental laws to justify him.

I hope that the readers of Swift Story Magazine will like Derek Dane, and I’ll give them my pledge that as they get to know him better with succeeding yarns they will find him developing an increasing ability to entertain them. He is too complex a character to put across in one story.

My wife made her first short story sale this week and we are in a celebrating mood. She has helped me with so many of mine that it is a big kick to see her push across a yarn of her own. I’ve got a boy and a girl—to round out the personal narrative—and I’m still in love. . . .

Sorry there isn’t more plot or drama or excitement in this—but if there was, this being a sordid age, I’d probably stick a name like Pete Jones on myself and sell the darn thing.

Hasta luego,

F.E. Rechnitzer’s “Three Tough Days”

Link - Posted by David on September 18, 2020 @ 6:00 am in


The Courier-News, Bridgewater, NJ, Friday, 15 November 1918, page 11.

F.E. RECHNITZER tells of his harrowing encounter with a Boche prison camp after his plane was forced to land on the wrong side of the lines. A prisoner of the Germans, this war aviator was given a strange third degree—and made the victim of a Boche Colonel’s grim joke!

Three Tough Days
by F.E. RECHNITZER

FLYING a Sopwith Camel in good weather was a job which kept a pilot on his toes every minute of the time. But in bad weather, with visibility almost zero, and rain driving in over the cowling—well, that was just plain hell.
    And that was just the sort of thing I faced on the morning of September 28th, 1918—the day the Belgians started their drive to rid their country of the grey-clad army of the Kaiser.
    We’d lined up earlier in the morning for patrol duty only to be called back by our C.O., who said that it was murder to send men into the air in that sort of weather. But no sooner had we changed into dry outfits than we were ordered into the air again by the Wing commander.
    So off we hopped at intervals to ground-strafe the enemy from the air while the Belgians hammered away from the ground.
    The first thing I did on reaching the storm-curtained battle in the muck was to look for a target on which to unload my four twenty pounders. For those four bombs nestling under the fuselage didn’t help the flying qualities of my Camel a bit.
    I finally spotted a cluster of transport trucks bogged down in the mud. I circled above them and pulled the bomb toggles. I saw the muck fly, but when the smoke settled the transport was still there. An Aldis sight wasn’t so hot as a bomb aimer even in clear weather.
    I circled over the battlefield again, hiding my head behind the low windshield to escape the impact of the rain.
    Among the things the brass hat had lectured us on back in the mess was the activities of the R.A.F. during the coming drive. We were to take notes on them when the different outfits were to take off—bombers, fighters, ground strafers, photography jobs and the balloon burners.
    I made notes and took the paper back to the hut in an effort to memorize them. Some of the fellows got theirs down pat and burned the paper according to instructions. But I was slow and by bedtime I still wasn’t sure of them, so I put the paper in my pocket, meaning to review it before breakfast, just before shoving off. I hadn’t had a chance, however, and the piece of paper was still in my pocket.
    I thought of it now as I flew along in the storm, fighting the stick every minute of the time to keep my little Camel right side up. I tried to find a target for my machine guns on the ground, but I couldn’t tell a Belgian from a German. Everything was covered with mud. The men I saw traveling northeast might be Huns retreating, and then again they might be Belgians advancing.

THEN suddenly the storm slackened. The driving rain changed to a drifting mist and the ceiling dropped another hundred feet or so.
    Diving lower, I found myself welcomed by a crew of Hun machine-gunners. They poured it into me plenty, so back into the soup I ducked.
vHow long that ducking business kept up I don’t know. But I soon discovered that I was well lost, muddled, befuddled and all the rest of it. My compass was spinning like a top and everything on the ground looked alike. And every time I went down below the ceiling to take a look around, the Germans on the ground made it hot for me. At least I knew I was still over enemy-held territory.
    I tried my best to get straightened out, but it was no go. I might as well have been flying in China for all I could recognize on the plastered terrain below.
    Presently I swept low, and much to my relief not a shot was fired at me. Not a single tracer steamed through the swirling mist. Right then my old heart settled back to normal revs. That would mean that I was back within my own lines.
    But where? I didn’t hanker to get caught in another grey wall of mist and then find myself out over the North Sea. So I decided to set down in one of the fields below and ask where I was, locate some landmark and dig for home.
    I picked out a field, slid in for a landing and glanced around as I unfastened my belt. Somebody shouted. I looked over my shoulder to see three grey-clad figures break out of the bushes alongside the road bordering the field.

THEY were Huns!
    I slammed the throttle up against the post. The Clerget picked up the beat and dragged the Camel over the far hedge.
    Wham! Something hit the ship with a crash. The Clerget coughed, and I had a hunch I knew what had happened. Soon my nose told me I was right. A lucky shot from one of those Hun rifles had smacked my fuel tank.
    In a flash I reached for the valve of my reserve tank. Wonder of miraculous wonders, it began to feed right away. I heard another volley as the Camel dug for the low-hanging mists, while I wiped the sweat off my forehead with my sleeve. What a story I’d have to tell!
    Then it dawned on me that I still had to find my way back to the squadron before I could tell anybody anything.
    I tried blind flying, but it was no go—not with just a compass, an airspeed indicator and a tachometer to help me. Well, to save time—I mean in telling what happened—I ran out of gas. My reserve tank, holding a half hour’s supply, went dry and I had to land.
    Snapping off the switch, I headed for a beet field, set my trucks down in the mud. I was about to congratulate myself on making a good landing when the wheels dropped into a ditch and the Camel stood up on its nose. I jumped to the ground—and turned to face three civilians.

THEY all started to talk at once in a language that didn’t mean a thing to me. I soon decided that they were Belgians talking Flemish. But it might as well have been Arabic for all it meant to me.
    So I went into a pantomime act, trying my best to inform them that I wanted to reach a telephone. At last one of them nodded that he understood and pointed across the field to a road.
    I grinned and sighed with relief. Evidently, I thought, I had landed on my own side of the lines.
    Just as we reached the road we met a girl and two youngsters who were evidently hurrying to see the plane which had landed on its nose.
    The girl, a kid of about seventeen, stopped and spoke to me. I recognized a German word or two, but couldn’t quite get what she said. Then she tried French. I shrugged my shoulders, and muttered something in English. She laughed and replied in well-accented English.
    “You are an English aviator?” she asked, apparently surprised. “What are you doing here on the road?”
    “Going to telephone my squadron an’ tell them to send a tender for me,” I replied. “But I’m American, not English.”
    “Do you not know that this is Boche territory?” she said.
    “Boche!” I yelped. “You—you mean that I’m down on the wrong side of the lines?”
    She nodded and the rest of them shook their heads in agreement, and began to point in all directions.
    I was finally convinced and started back to perform the rite of burning my ship before it fell into the hands of the enemy. To do this, I had to lug some sheaves of wheat from a bordering field. I refused to allow the willing Belgians to help me for fear of getting them into a jam.
    Now a bus will catch fire quite easily when you don’t want it to burn. But try to get one perking on purpose. That’s a different story. I had to break open my oil tank with my Very light pistol, finally pounding for dear life with the heavy barrel, and then smear oil over the fuselage, before I finally managed to get the fabric to curling merrily.
    Then we hustled away from there, with the girl in the lead.

THE Belgians and the kids disappeared after we left the field, but the girl stayed, and motioned me toward a house just at the edge of the village which was now in sight.
    We entered the house and I took off my fur-lined flying suit which I had put on in place of the one that had gotten wet earlier in the day. Just as I handed it to the young chap who seemed to be the man of the house, a steady rattle of shots reached our ears.
    The boy and girl turned pale and glanced at each other fearfully. For a moment I could picture the house being raided by half the German army. Then I realized what had happened. In my hurry to burn the Camel and get away I had forgotten all about the ammunition left in my Vickers belts. Now they were popping way in the fire just a few fields away. Those Belgians were plenty scared and they had a right to be. Helping Allied soldiers to escape was a serious offense. The noise of those shots would surely attract attention. I cursed myself bitterly for my forgetfulness.
    Through the window of the steamy little kitchen we saw a group of Germans hustle by in a few minutes.
    “I’ve got to get away from here before they begin to search,” I said to the girl. “How far is it to Holland?”
    “About ten kilometers,” she said, pointing toward the north. The man interrupted. She spoke to him a moment and then continued. “He says you must be careful of the electric wire if you plan to make an attempt to get into Holland.”
    I’d heard plenty about that hellish wire, but I was determined to try.
    The old lady of the house fixed me up a cup of strong black stuff that passed for coffee and gave me a couple of slices of black bread smeared with lard.
    “I’ll save that for later,” I said, pocketing the bread. “I’m going to try and make the Border tonight, and slip through the wire at dawn. I’ll be hungry by then.”
    The young fellow went upstairs and came back down with a coat and a pair of trousers in his hand. The clothes weren’t new but fitted fairly well.
    As I slipped the coat on the girl handed me a half dozen lumps of sugar. “Smuggled from Holland,” she smiled.
    I thanked her and slipped the sugar into the pocket of my Bedford Cords, little realizing the part that sugar would play before the day was over. Then I put on the trousers, wrapped my scarf around my neck and put on an old cap the young fellow had taken from a nail. I transferred the two slices of bread to my coat pocket, and turned to the girl.
    “If you can,” I said, “notify my folks that I’m all right.” I gave her the address, which she wrote down.
    “The Burgomaster will see that your people get word,” she said as she folded the paper and slipped it into her dress.
    I thanked the people in whose house I had rested, through the girl, and then started out, hoping to get to the Dutch Border by dark.
    The boy had informed me that a brook about a kilometer west of the village ran due north to the Border and that if I followed that I would have little trouble keeping my direction. I found the brook and turned my face toward Holland and freedom.

I DON’T think I had traveled three miles before I was startled out of my wits by a man stepping out from a clump of bushes. He didn’t say a word as he handed me three raw eggs. I was a little suspicious as I took the eggs, but when I saw the light in the old man’s eyes I knew that he was trying to do his bit toward helping the cause. He had recognized me as a stranger and evidently guessed the rest.
    Putting the eggs in my coat pocket I hustled on, keeping to the brook and crossing under roads by walking in the water under the low bridges.
    Presently I came to a bridge with a wire across it which forced me to cross the road. I crawled up the bank, and just as I started across I saw an old woman come out from behind the walls of a barnyard. Now I hate to think that that old Belgian woman had anything to do with what occurred a couple of minutes later. But this is what happened: She looked me over from the other side of the bridge. Her eyes took in the thick flying boots I had partly covered with my tattered trousers. Then she turned around and went back into the barnyard.
    By the time I was across the road I heard a shout. I looked back to see two Germans wearing brass breast plates dangling by a chain on their chests. These plates, I found out later, denoted that the men were military police.
    One of them fired a shot as I jumped into the brook and started to splash through the water. Another shot and they were in the brook too. I jumped up on the bank and then back into the brook as I ran trying to duck the slugs cutting through the bushes. As I went I ripped the two slices of bread from my pocket and threw them into the bushes, hoping to shield the Belgians if I were caught.
    I came to a wall. I thought of jumping over, running along the wall on the other side, then popping back again. I’d seen that done once in the movies. But, as usual, things didn’t happen the way they happen in the movies. For as I jumped over I dropped right into the arms of a German who was walking along the path inside the wall.
    He said something which I did not understand, but I did understand the language of the gun he held against my belly. I reached for the clouds, which were beginning to lift, by the way, but a couple of hours too late.
    The only funny feature of my capture was the eggs. One of the other Huns began to frisk me the minute he came over the wall. When his hands touched the eggs he jumped, and began to point with lots of excited words at my pocket. I was sure he was saying something about grenades, so I reached in and took out the eggs. He looked so sheepish I had to laugh.
    After a little discussion they took me to a village, got a two wheeled cart and loaded me on. There I sat, a guard on either side with ready rifles and two following along on bicycles. I was feeling low and pretty desperate by now.
    It was almost dark when we reached the next village. I wouldn’t have known where I was if it hadn’t been for the girl. I saw her standing beside the road as we passed. As she saw me her face paled and she turned hurriedly away.
    “You know this town?” asked one of my guards in broken English.
    I shook my head.
    He asked me that same question in a dozen different ways while the cart stood in the village square, and each time I insisted that it might be any one of the hundreds of villages in Belgium as far as I was concerned.
    At last an automobile appeared on the scene and in a few minutes I was being whisked away to headquarters in Eecloo. It was here that the fireworks really started.

AFTER a few preliminary questions by a major, the coat and trousers which I had put on over my flying togs were taken away from me, together with the cap. Then I was led in to a high ceilinged office, to face a square-faced old colonel “Sit down,” he growled. For a few moments he looked me over. “So,” he finally went on, “we catch a British flyer behind our lines wearing civilian clothes over his uniform.”
    Right then the dumb trick I had pulled hit me right between the eyes, and he knew what I was thinking. He took off his glasses and sat playing with them as he looked at me. I felt like a cornered rat looking at a cat.
    “You have had help on this side,” he finally snapped.
    I shook my head.
    “Then where did you get these?”
    He motioned toward the coat and trousers.
    I had my story ready. I’d been thinking about those clothes on the way. So I looked him straight in the eye and went to it.
    “Why,” I said, “I went into an old barn this morning to get out of the rain. They were hanging on a peg so I stole them. Thought they would make it easier for me to get into Holland.”
    The old fellow glared. “And the eggs?” he barked.
    “Got them in the same place,” I bluffed. “Just as I was leaving I saw a hen on a nest and kicked her off and there were those eggs. If I’d waited a couple of minutes I might have had four.”
    The colonel’s eyes glowered at me across the desk. “That’s a lie,” he thundered. “These Belgians must be taught a lesson and I mean to find out who aided you.”
    I shrugged my shoulders. “Who would help a flyer to escape, especially give him clothes?” I argued.
    The colonel leaned back in his chair. I can see him yet in that dimly lighted room, his stubby fingers touching together under his chin. I can see the sly smile steal across his face as he leaned forward suddenly.
    “How can you prove that you are an aviator who was trying to escape?” He pointed toward the coat and trousers. “Remember, you were caught wearing these.”
    “But you found my plane, didn’t you?” I asked.
    “My dear fellow,” he grinned. “A dozen or more of your planes came down in our territory today. Have you any particular plane in mind?”
    I sighed in relief at this bit of news. I said:
    “I burned the ship I came down in; that’s orders, you know. It was a Camel.”
    He picked up a slip of paper, glanced over it for a moment, then turned to me. “We have three burned Sopwith Camels on our list. Could you by any chance name a town near which you came down? Surely you know the country well.” I shook my head and settled lower in my chair. His questions were getting awkward.
    “You realize that if you cannot prove that you are a pilot there is a severe penalty for being found behind our lines in civilian clothes?” he said steadily.
    I couldn’t think of an answer to that one. I was pretty worried by now.

HE BEGAN to write on a paper he had before him. For a while there wasn’t a sound except the scratching of the pen. He seemed to have either forgotten me or was giving the words he had just spoken a chance to sink in. And believe me they were sinking. So was my heart.
    I slumped lower in the chair, and stretched my tired legs and put my hands in my pockets. My fingers touched the sugar, then something else that made my heart flop over. It was paper! I knew in a flash that it was the notes I had taken down as the brass hat outlined the air activities for the first two days of the push. One day had passed, but there was another to come. And the information on that slip of paper would be very clear to this German officer.
    The information would not have much bearing on the outcome of the war. But it did mean that with that information in their possession the German airmen might be at the right place at the right time, and some Allied pilot might go west because of my negligence.
    Now I was glad that they had been so busy asking me questions which they hoped would allow them to vent their spleen on some unfortunate Belgian or two, that they had overlooked searching me.
    I had to get rid of that paper before somebody thought of going through my uniform!
    Then I got an idea. Taking a piece of sugar from my pocket I sat toying with it, tossing it into the air and catching it.
    “What is that?” snapped the colonel looking up,
    I tried to be casual as I held it out to him, and more casual as I said, “Just a lump of sugar. Always carry it with me. Fond of sweets.”
    He took it, examined it and then handed it back with a growl, I slipped it into my mouth and began to chew, making as much noise as possible.
    While I ate the first lump I squirmed around in my chair restlessly. While I wriggled I tore off a fair sized piece of the paper and wrapped it around a lump of sugar.
    I slipped it quickly into my mouth and went on with my crunching, and at the same time wrapped up another lump in the precious notes. Once or twice the colonel looked up in annoyance as I ground the sugar between my teeth. But I remained impervious to his glances and continued to munch my sugar.
    It took four lumps and a lot of swallowing, but I did away with the notes and believe me, wet paper sure can stick in a person’s throat.
    After a while he turned his attention to me again and began to ask questions about what was going on over on the other side. When I told him that he more than likely knew more about what was going on than I did, he got peeved. I tried to explain that we got our war information from the papers and that they were usually three or four days old. When I offered to bet him a pound that he had already seen that day’s London papers, he got mad. He finally ordered them to take me to another room and search me.
    They did. that. But all they found after stripping me to the hide, was two lumps of sugar, a package of cigarettes and fifteen francs. They were half an hour late.
    Then they gave me something to eat and left me to myself. I had nothing to do but think and do a lot of wishing. I did plenty of both.
    About ten o’clock I was called into the colonel’s office. He seemed quite friendly. Offered me a cigarette and I countered by offering him one of mine. He put his away and took mine. Then the questions started again. He wanted information about who had helped me. When he drew a blank there he went after war information and again discovered that when it came to knowledge about the activities of the Allies I was a numskull of the first water.
    Then things took an ugly turn. He began to talk about trading. It was my life for information against my Belgian friends or information about the Allied activities.

I TRIED to convince him that I didn’t know a thing about the Allied maneuvers and that no one had helped me. He persisted that I had at least heard rumors, and that he didn’t believe I had stolen the clothes.
    “We can shoot you as a spy for masquerading behind enemy lines/’ he threatened.
    I had a hunch he was bluffing. I realized that I had done wrong in putting on those clothes. Perhaps they did have a right to put me up in front of a firing squad. But I didn’t think they’d dare. The Belgians had seen me come down. I had been paraded through two villages whose inhabitants would no doubt tell the British that I had been seen alive in the hands of the Germans.
    My line of reasoning might have been all wrong. I’m not sure yet that it wasn’t. And what happened a morning or so later had me convinced at the time that it was.
    Day and night were the same. Questions at ungodly hours, until I began to ponder over the feasibility of giving the old boy some false information.
    On the morning of the third day a young officer came into the room and told me to dress. Wondering what was up now, I followed him downstairs. But instead of going to the colonel’s office, we went outside.
    There, lined up on the garden path was a squad of soldiers, six of them. I had lots of time to count them before I was through. The men fell in at my side and led by the officer we walked down the garden path.
    I thought of a million things as the officer told me to step from the path and stand by the wall.
    There was the way. There was the officer. There was the firing squad. And there was I, scared to death.
    The officer offered me a cigarette, but I shook my head.
    I’ve often seen pictures and movies of men facing a firing squad and they always refused a bandage for their eyes. They were supposed to be brave men, not afraid to look down the long barreled rifles from whose blazing muzzles slugs would fly and tear their manly chests to shreds.
    Perhaps that’s the way a brave man should act, but I didn’t feel that way about it. If there had been a potato sack handy I would gladly have crawled in and then asked somebody to tie me up.

    I glanced up at the back window of headquarters. There stood the old colonel, grinning as he looked down where I stood with my back against a garden wall quaking in my rubber-soled flying boots. The boots were lined with sheep’s wool, but my feet were cold.
    I heard a motor stop outside, and wondered if there were going to be witnesses. My heart looped and then went into a side-slip as the officer shouted a command.
    The rifles rattled, but instead of pointing at me they dropped to the men’s shoulders. Bewildered, I turned to the officer. He smiled and pointed to the gate, where the soldiers waited. My knees were like fresh putty as I walked through that gate.
    “Get in.” The officer pointed toward the car. I crawled in, and in a few minutes we were standing on the platform of a railroad station.
    “You were frightened back there in the garden, yes?” grinned the officer.
    “Frightened!” I almost yelled. “What do you think? Say, what was the big idea?”

THE officer laughed. “It was just the colonel’s little joke.
    “Yes, you see he had been threatening to have you shot as a spy when you would give him no information. Last night he thought of this as a farewell as you leave for the prison camp at Rasstatt. It was not funny to you, was it? I could not help, could not tell you, for he stood in the window.”
    For a moment I was speechless. “Listen,” I said, tapping the young officer on the chest. “If he likes jokes, tell him this one and see if he thinks it’s funny. Maybe he’ll decide the joke’s on him.”
    Then I told the young German about what I had done with the notes and how I had used the sugar to accomplish my purpose. His eyes opened a bit wider as I spread it on, stretching the importance of the paper a point or two.
    “Be sure an’ tell him everything,” I snapped.
    “I shall tell him,” the officer smiled.
    “But I do not think he will consider it funny.” He paused and glanced at the guards. “But I do,” he whispered.
    The train came in. I left for Rasstatt in company with an armed guard sitting on either side.
    I’m certain that the officer must have given the colonel my message, for no word about me reached either the States or England until after I had been released and sent into Switzerland a couple of months later. Evidently the colonel was having a last crack at getting even.
    At home I was given up for dead. Letters of condolence came to my people as word of my supposed demise spread. I’ve read those letters. They were nice, but they raised the devil with my ego.


Sky Fighters art department knocked up this facsimile of an official
communication regarding the Rechnitzer’s fate.

And quite a while later, news of Rechnitzer’s safe release is reported in The Courier-News!


The Courier-News, Bridgewater, NJ, Friday, 10 December 1918, page 6.

Ralph Oppenheim—Boy Biographer

Link - Posted by David on March 23, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

I’VE been researching Ralph Oppenheim, creator and author of The Three Mosquitoes, for six years or so now and I’m always thrilled when a new lead shows up. Recently I did my usual Oppenheim search on newspapers.com to see if anything would show up in any new papers they had added since the last time I had searched. Lo and behold, there were a number of new search results with the top ones being from newspapers dating from 1926 and showing “Ralph Oppenheim—Boy Biog” in the preview window!

These new entries were all from the Haldeman-Julius Weekly. I clicked the link. The Haldeman-Julius Weekly was a 4 page weekly newspaper that was, in fact, an ad for Haldeman-Julius’ library of Little Blue Books with articles and ads for current and upcoming publications. Foremost among the upcoming publications was their new literary quarterly journal (they were also starting up a monthly to help cover all their bases). It was in the ad for the new Haldeman-Julius Quarterly that they referenced Ralph Oppenheim as a “Boy Biographer.”

The premiere issue of the Quarterly (October 1926) featured many articles from current and upcoming publications, including Ralph’s “The Love-Life of George Sand.” In some of the early press for the article, they refer to Ralph as being sixteen years old—and, although he could have written it when he was sixteen—he most likely wrote it when he was eighteen, since the hype for it started before he turned nineteen. Ralph’s “The Love-Life of George Sand” article is actually just a reprinting of the 64 page little blue book of the same name. Both the Little Blue Book and the Quarterly were published in 1926.


From the March 20th, 1926 issue of Haldeman-Julius Weekly

One big difference between the Quarterly and Little Blue Book versions is in the illustrations. The Little Blue Book is not illustrated, while the Quarterly version is profusely illustrated. Foremost among them is A full page portrait of George Sand drawn by Gertrude Oppenheim, Ralph’s Step-Mother. Fred C. Rodewald provided the spot illustrations that pepper the remaining pages of the article.


George Sand by Gertrude Oppenheim in a more straightforward style then her portrait of her husband, Ralph’s father, James Oppenheim from the frontispiece of The Sea (1924).

But, better yet, from the research angle, the article starts with a full page introduction for it’s author—complete with a photo of the nineteen year old Ralph Oppenheim! So let’s meet Ralph Oppenheim, boy biographer. . . .

Ralph Oppenheim

THE author of “The Love-Life of George Sand” is nineteen years old. Here is one of America’s future authors already at work, beginning to express himself with freshness and vigor, with finish and style; an artist to the tips of his fingers. It is one of the purposes of the Quarterly to bring out the best work of young America, and in accepting Ralph Oppenheim’s study we believe we are giving space to material of first-rate significance. This essay compares favorably with the best work we have ever accepted from mature, experienced writers. We did not take Ralph Oppenheim’s manuscript because he happens to be only a boy in years; rather were we influenced by the sureness of his touch. His age came up for comment only after we were satisfied that his work was well done. . . The Quarterly boasts that all in America is not jazz, noise and fury; a minority speaks vigorously and clearly, with intelligence, understanding, humor and craftsmanship. Ralph’s essay helps prove this assertion. Read young Oppenheim’s study and you will realize how important it is for the United States to have a magazine the purpose of which will be to go out and seek for the best from the talented and intelligent minority, bringing out new gifts, fresh viewpoints and sound work. First credit must, of necessity, go to Ralph himself; second credit must go to his artist-mother, Gertrude Oppenheim, and his poet father, James Oppenheim; third credit, in all fairness, must go to the Quarterly for opening its columns to a new voice. America will hear much from Ralph Oppenheim. He has something to say; he knows how to say it; he is a civilized human being, a complete answer to the charge that all of America has been reduced to stifling mediocrity, to unimaginative standardization. There is enough to complain about, in all truth, without crying that all is lost. Let us protest against the viciousness and stupidity of the superstitious majority, the hypocrisy and cowardice of its leaders, the mawkishness of our bunk-ridden millions—yes, let us aim our spitballs at our shams and fakirs, but let us, by all means, recognize worthy talent when we see it and lend an ear to the emerging youngsters who are breaking away from the herd and learning to stand as free individuals. Turn now to Ralph’s essay. At first you will marvel that it was written by a boy, but after a few paragraphs you will forget its author and fly along with his tonic and captivating work. . . . The portrait of George Sand was drawn especially for the Quarterly by Mrs. James Oppenheim, Ralph’s mother.

According to the ads in the Weekly for the the Quarterly, Oppenheim’s George Sand article proved very popular with the readers and was highly promoted each week in ads for the first issue of the Quarterly. This popularity led to another of Oppenheim’s books being included as an article in the second issue.

The second issue of the Haldeman-Julius Quarterly (January 1927) featured Oppenheim’s “The Romance That Balzac Lived: How The Great Interpreter of the Human Comedy Lived and Loved” (a reprinting of The Romance That Balzac Lived: Honore de Balzac and the Women He Loved (lbb-1213, 1927)). The article was nicely illustrated with a daguerreotype of Balzac and spot illustrations by Fred C. Rodewald, but no introductory page about Oppenheim.

Oppenheim seemed to be a role with the Haldeman-Julius Quarterly readers (or at least their editors), for the third issue (April 1927) once again featured an article by Oppenheim. This time it was his treatise on his generation: “The Younger Generation Speaks: An American Youth Tells About Its Attitude Toward Life” (a reprinting of The Younger Generation and Its Attitude Toward Life (lbb-834, 1927)). In addition to numerous spot illustrations and photos, the article also featured an introduction to the author, once again using the same photo of Oppenheim as before.

The Spokesman of Youth

RALPH OPPENHEIM, the young writer who lives in New York—in storied Washington Square, with his father, James Oppenheim—is, in this issue of the Quarterly, a spokesman for American youth. Ralph Oppenheim is someone to be reckoned with, for he is a part of the younger generation in America and one of its thinkers who is now standing up to speak for it with a voice that surely must be heard. Ralph does not idealize and he is not enough of a cynic to color his assertions too much on the bitter side. He looks at youth and their present attitude toward modern life with clear eyes, and makes a fair estimate of what youth is doing and what may be expected from the young people who will soon be leaders among us. Some of the things that this young man has to say about himself and his fellows are harsh, and some of them are quite complimentary, but through all of his work you can depend upon it that Ralph Oppenheim is deeply sincere. Although not yet twenty, Ralph’s viewpoint has the compelling tone of maturity: he is not to be idly brushed aside as of no consequence. You will find that what he has to say is well worth reading, and considering; you will find yourself agreeing and disagreeing with him, and giving a great deal of thought to the ideas and facts which he offers you—and the degree of attention which you will give his work will after all be the best test of Ralph Oppenheim’s success as a spokesman for his generation.

By the time this third issue hit the stands, Oppenheim had already published five titles in Haldeman-Julius’ line of Little Blue Books and had switched gears—writing tales of daring pilots in the hell-skies of The Great War from his attic room in the House of Genius!

His first published story was a taunt tale of aviation and death he titled “Doom’s Pilot” in the pages of the February 1927 Action Stories! His second printed story—”A Parachutin’ Fool”—was another aviation tale, printed in the April 1927 issue of War Stories! He followed this up with—”Aces Down!”—in the July 1927 issue of War Stories—this was the story that introduced the world to that inseparable trio—The Three Mosquitoes!

The rest—as they say—is history.

 

Here is a facsimile copy of Ralph Oppenheim’s article on “The Love-Life of George Sand” from the premier issue of the Haldeman-Julius Quarterly:

Painton’s Letters Home from WWI | 24 January 1919

Link - Posted by David on December 30, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS month we’re featuring Frederick C. Painton’s letters he wrote home while serving with the American Expeditionary Forces in WWI. Portions of these letters were published in his hometown paper, The Elmira Star-Gazette of Elmira, New York. Before the war young Fred Painton had been doing various jobs at the Elmira Advertiser as well as being a part-time chauffeur. He was eager to get into the scrap, but was continually turned down because of a slight heart affliction and was not accepted in the draft without an argument. He was so eager to go that he prevailed upon the draft board to permit him to report ahead of his time. Painton left Elmira in December 1917 with the third contingent of the county draft for Camp Dix but was again rejected. He was eventually transferred to the aviation camp at Kelly Field as a chauffeur, and in a few weeks’ time was on his way to England in the transport service with an aviation section, where he landed at the end of January 1918 as part of the 229th Aero Supply Squadron. He was transferred to the 655 Aero Squadron in France shortly thereafter and then to the 496th and eventually attached to the staff of The Stars and Stripes just before the end of the war and stayed on with the occupying forces.

armistice
A PANARAMA. Old Glory flies over Ehrenbreitstein fortress looking down on Coblentz, lying peacefully on the juncture of the Rhine and Moselle. Germany 1919.

SERGEANT FRED PAINTON WRITES OF THE AMERICAN OCCUPATION OF COBLENTZ ON THE RHINE

Elmira Star-Gazette, Elmira, New York • 24 January 1919

Elmiran Sends Interesting Description of Chief City in American Sector and Portrays Feeling of the Doughboys When They Show That Kaiser Had the Wrong “Dope.”

Sergeant Frederick C. Painton, former Elmira newspaperman, writes an interesting account of the American army’s crossing of the River Rhine and the occupation of Coblentz. the chief city in the American sector of occupation. Sergeant Painton is now attached to “The Stars and Stripes,” the official paper of the American soldiers in France and is afforded an excellent opportunity to see the things which he describes.

He writes:

“Coblentz, Germany,
“Dec. 13, 1918.

“Today, in a very quiet undramatic marched into Coblentz, the chief and by far largest city included in the territory of occupation. Facing me not fifty yards away is the historic and much sung Rhine, not the German Rhine in our sector, but the American Rhine for the time being. By nightfall the streets swarmed with doughboys. To them came no emotion, this was an everyday job: the Argonne. Chateau Thierry, it was all the same. To the list of tiny unknown French villages, whose names later on were blazed across the papers through the deeds of the A.E.F. is now added that of Coblentz. To those who have never toured Europe. Coblentz is as much of a secret as is La Ferte.

“As Coblentz has been made the headquarters of the 3rd Army and everything of importance centers here, it would not go amiss to give a brief description. Coblentz, with Treves or Trier as the Germans call it, rate as two of the oldest cities in Germany, dating back to the time of Caesar. Although situated at the junction of the Rhine and Moselle, it has never grown much in population. In the Thirty Years War Coblentz was, in turn, besieged and garrisoned by the Swedes, French and Prussians.

“Slipping quickly to the era of Napoleon we find it, after Valmy, made the capital of the new French province of Meurthe et Moselle. It is thus that we can account for the dual names that are horn by all the towns rivers and departments. They have, after Waterloo, been all Germanized. Now, for the first time in over a hundred years, a foreign flag Old Glory, now flies from the City Hall and also from the Ehrenbreitstein, the fortress guarding Coblentz. Does this not give one a feeling of passionate pride in our country?

“I can not resist the temptation to describe for you the Ebrenbreitstein as it looks at the moment perched high on the rugged cliffs on the opposite bank of the Rhine. As I look out the window, the sun, which shines today for the first time in weeks, sets off this monstrous fortress in all its grim and powerful lines. On its highest tower, gently waving in the springlike breeze is “Old Glory.” flaunting in the Kaiser’s face a refutation of his remark that “The Americans will take no important part in this war as they will arrive too late.” We were late, but American speed brought the train in on time.

“Ehrenbreitstein—the name is reminiscent of three balls—has been called and rightly “The Gibraltar of the Rhine.” It was commenced about the time that Napoleon made his exit from the European stage and has been strengthened and improved from year to year as new modes of killing came into vogue. In a way it resembles Verdun, in that it has been hollowed out of the rock. The huge underground chambers will easily billet one hundred men. Monstrous supply rooms occupy the base and by means of spiral stair cases one finally rises to the height of 385 feel and gazes from the cement battlements down on the fair city of Coblentz, lying peacefully on the juncture of the Rhine and Moselle. On clear days one can see Andernach lying further down the Rhine. Up to the time we took possession of the fortress, no foreign soldiers had ever made its will resound with the tread of their footsteps. Now the case is reversed: No German soldiers are allowed inside.

“The city proper lies on the peninsula formed by the juncture of the Rhine and the Moselle. We were much impressed with the civic upbuilding. Each building and private residence were beautiful examples of German architecture and everything was scrupulously neat and clean. The city is laid out very beautifully, with long gardens and promenades running along the banks of the Rhine. Being on that great inland waterway, there is considerable business done in cargo carrying.

“It is rather amusing to run into a newcomer and have him ask eagerly, “Is that there river the Rhine” Upon receiving an affirmative answer, he usually stares long and thoughtfully at it and then with a smile and shake of the shoulders, remark: “Well, that’s sompen to tell the folks at home, by Gosh. I saw their old German Rhine.”

“You can well imagine our thoughts when, as we stood on the now historic pontoon bridge, about ten o’clock at night, we heard the sweet strains of “Taps” wafted over the swift flowing waters beneath. That we would eventually stand here none of us had any doubts, but who would have thought a few short months ago that the curtain would have been rung down so quickly?

“Today is the 14th of December, a day that will go down in the annals of historv as the day on which our olive drab columns crossed the Rhine to finish occupying our area. We were all up before daybreak, eagerly awaiting the moment when the advance would be sounded. The streets were crowded with the boys of the gallant First. As the dim gray crept across the sky announcing the approach of another dismal, rainy day. the brief command. “Forward March” was given to the leading battalion and the great moment had arrived. Who can say what emotions pierced our breast as battalion after battalion swung into line and the boards began to rattle with the impress of hundreds of steel shod boots? Who can say that we had not received our reward for all the hardships endured as we watched the grim, gaily painted guns go thundering over the bridge quaking beneath their weight? What could we think when we remembered that the remnant of Germany’s fighting machine were slinking away a few short hours ahead of these boys, whose deeds at Monfaucon, Cantigny and Soisson will live forever in the memories of all Americans? All felt the same desire to yell with joy, toss their caps, anything to give vent to their superexuberant spirits brought on by witnessing such a show of a nation’s power as was this. Further up on another bridge of more substantial construction, the lads of the famous second were also taking their place in line. Hundreds of the civilian population left their beds to witness this great event. To those who took stock in Kaiser Wilhelm’s statement that aside from two or three regular divisions, there were no American troops in France, this sight must have been well nigh incredible. Can you wonder that, instead of being angry at having to remain a few months longer, we are intensely proud?”

 

A few weeks later, The Star-Gazette reported that Sergeant Painton was to be shipped home after suffering injuries from gas attack in the St. Mihiel Drive.

 

SERG. PAINTON ORDERED HOME SUFFERING FROM GAS EFFECTS

Elmira Star-Gazette, Elmira, New York • 18 February 1919

Elmira Soldier Collapses Several Months After Having Been Gassed in St. Mihiel Drive—Has Been Attached To Staff of the Stars and Stripes.

Sergeant Frederick C. Painton, son of Mr. and Mrs. George Painton, former Elmira newspaperman, whose interesting letters from France have been widely read, is enroute home, suffering from the effects of gas, which he received during the St. Mihiel drive by General Pershing’s troops. Painton has lately been attached to the staff of The Stars and Stripes and was having a most interesting experience as a reporter with the American Army of Occupation when he suddenly collapsed and was forced to give up his work.

He writes: “A year ago today I landed in Glasgow, England, and now, on the anniversary, I find myself scrapped, war’s cast-off and en-route home.” Painton was gassed several months ago. and at the time paid no attention to the matter. He says “now I am getting the real effects, my stomach is gone, my nerves are gone, and, as you know, I already had a bad heart, so here I am feeling as bad as the Kaiser. I expect to sail in about a week and should be in Elmira by the first of March.”

Painton was evacuated from Coblentz on the Rhine and was forced to leave all effects in his trunk at Paris. He says he fears he will have to spend his first month home in bed, but he hopes to soon be tearing off copy for local papers before very long.

Painton was thrown by the concussion of a shell while at Troyon, during the St. Mihiel drive, and believes that he suffered an injury to his side. Because of the condition of his nerves, he is unable to sleep at times without the aid of an opiate. The former reporter declares he dislikes very much to leave at this time, because he was having a wonderful experience with the American Army. However, he looks forward to the trip home as a tonic, although greatly disappointed because he must leave his trunk full of war souvenirs behind. He hopes to have a friend take care of it for him until he can have it sent home.

Painton was a reporter in Elmira at the time the United States entered the war. He was eager to get into the scrap, but was continually turned down because of a slight heart affliction. He was not accepted in the draft without an argument, and so eager was he to go that he prevailed upon the draft board to permit him to report ahead of his time. He was again rejected at Camp Dix, but finally was allowed to go to Kelly Field as a chauffeur, and in a few weeks’ time was on his way across in the transport service with an aviation section.

Finally an opportunity came to him, after the armistice was signed, to become attached to The Stars and Stripes, the official publication of the American soldiers, published in Paris. His articles, which have appeared in the local papers, have been widely read.

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