Tag Archives: 1913

Raymonde de Laroche ~25th November 1913

431px-Raymonde_de_LaRoche_HeadTo add to my recent posts about early female aviators I must mention this French lady:

Raymonde de Laroche 1886 -1919

Background and Inspiration to Fly

Raymonde always enjoyed sport and motorcycles but was inspired to learn to fly after watching Wilber Wright’s flight demonstrations in Paris in 1908. In 1909, under the instruction of Charles Voisin a personal friend, she took off for the first time. I like the story that she disobeyed his orders not to take off on that first occasion. Whatever the truth she was certainly a headstrong and determined young lady.

Her achievements

She gained her pilot’s licence in March 1910 and as many aviators of her time took part in meets and shows. Although injured in September 1912 at the Reims Air Show and a subsequent car crash, she recovered fully and won the Femina Cup after a four hour, non stop long distance flight on 25th November 1913.

In WW1 she served as a chauffeur and engineer, confidently driving officers too and from the front.

Notable Difference

Although of humble birth, the daughter of a plumber, she called herself Baroness, but after the war in 1919 she hoped to become the first female test pilot in Le Crotoy. Unfortunately the plane she was in crash landed and she was killed.

If you are interested in early female aviators I have done a series for this blog but here are some other links:

Mother Nature Network – 8 Famous Female Aviators

Women of Aviation Worldwide Week in March

NB I was interested to see Harry Harper, the Aviation reporter of the Daily Mail at that time, writing about Raymone. I was so intrigued by Harry’s name appearing so many times whilst I was researching for my novel Ancasta Guide me Swiftly Home that he became a character in my novel and he is a man I intend to research in the future.



Filed under Early Flight, Frivolous Flying Facts, Research, Role of Women, The Great War, WW1

Virtual Tour of the Solent and Beyond ~No 14~WW1 in the Med and Port Said

If this is the first of my virtual tour posts that you’ve stumbles upon, since Christmas I’ve been on a journey around the Solent from Fort Gilkicker, along Southampton Water, back out to Calshot, over to The Channel Islands and France and today we travel in our mind’s eye to Turkey and the Mediterranean. This is the journey of Ancasta Guide me Swiftly Home, my second novel, and the destination of Harriet’s most adventurous son as he played his part in WW1.

It is the stories of Jack and his brother Tom which makes Ancasta such a unique story of WW1, but without giving too much away in today’s post I will explain the background to Jack’s tale. Jack was the lively son, full of a sense of humour and a need for adventure. (Tom was the quite, thoughtful one and Ernest the serious young man who took role as head of the family since his father died in earnest!) Mechanically minded Jack was never more at home than when he was working on engines. Apprenticed at White’s Boatyard as an engineer on the banks of the River Itchen, it was the most natural progression in the world for him to transfer to Calshot, where he maintained flying boats at the new RNAS station in 1913.

As war broke out he joined up and his story, told by letters back home to his loving wife Hannah, were of his excitement, joys and frustrations of working on one of the earliest sea plane carriers in WW1, The Ben my Chree, meaning ‘Lady of my Heart,’  which I thought such an apt double entendre. Was it his wife or his ship and the sea planes he so lovingly worked on who stole his heart? You, the reader, must decide.

Turkey was where the Ben my Chree contributed most to the war effort and this is where my novel describes real events through theSolent Google Maps Turkey Port Said eyes of Jack. My research, carried out mainly at the Shuttleworth Archives, of the Ben my Chree led me to visit The Fleet Air Arm Museum at RNAS  Yeovilton, where I was excited to see scale models of early sea plane carriers like the one Jack served on. (In fact, I was more enthusiastic than my husband, who was keen to see jets and planes of a more modern era which meant nothing to me!) Before doing this research I was unaware of the part sea plane carriers played in WW1 and I hope that my novel will prove to be informative as well as a good read.

On a couple of occasions Jack’s ship docked in Port Said for repairs and supplies. I had vivid pictures of the port in my mind from early postcards my grandfather had collected of the area when he was in the Navy. I cannot share them with you today but hope to in the future.  Since reading Ancasta my father has told me a story of my family history of which I was totally unaware before writing the novel. I am bursting to tell you this but can’t, and if you’ve been following my journey into writing from the beginning it is certainly not the first strange coincidence to take place. What I can say is that my grandfather actually met his brother quite by chance in Post Said back in WW1, but I’m afraid I’ll just have to let you read the book before I tell you what really happened.

Back to my novel Ancasta Guide me Swiftly Home, what Hannah makes of these adventures as she is left at home with their young daughter waiting for news is the other side to my story of course. How did Jack and the pilot of his planes contribute to the war effort? Did the Ben my Chree survive the war? Did Jack return home?

All these questions I cannot answer. You’ll just have to wait and see, but if you’ve read Ancasta and want to know the true coincidence then drop me an email and I’d be happy to tell you!


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Filed under Ancasta, Early Flight, Family History, Flying Boats and Sea Planes, Research, Virtual Tour of the Solent and Beyond, WW1