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Lionel Morris and the Red Baron (Paperback)

Air War on the Somme

Aviation > WWI Military P&S History WWI > Battles & Campaigns > Somme WWI > By Year > 1916

By Jill Bush
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 264
Illustrations: 25 black and white
ISBN: 9781526765871
Published: 6th April 2020



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Nineteen-year-old Lionel Morris left the infantry for the wood and wires of the Royal Flying Corps on the Western Front in 1916, joining one of the world’s first fighter units alongside the great ace Albert Ball. Learning on the job, in dangerously unpredictable machines, Morris came of age as a combat pilot on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, as the R.F.C. was winning a bloody struggle for admiralty of the air.

As summer faded to autumn, and the skies over Bapaume filled with increasing numbers of enemy aircraft, the tide turned. On 17 September 1916, Morris’s squadron was attacked by a lethally efficient German unit, including an unknown pilot called Manfred von Richthofen. As the shock waves spread from the empty hangars of No.11 Squadron all the way to the very top of the British Army, the circumstances surrounding Morris’s death marked a pivotal shift in the aerial war, and the birth of its greatest legend.

Told through previously unpublished archive material, the words of contemporaries and official records, Lionel Morris and the Red Baron traces a short but extraordinary life; and reveals how Morris’s role in history was rediscovered one hundred years after his death.

The book has plenty of interest for readers of all levels of knowledge. Jill Bush has done all that she possibly could to commemorate two more young men who are now more than just names in a casualty list, and the book deserves to be read.

Read the Full Review Here

Flight Line Book Review

I was very taken with this book. The time period is endlessly fascinating, but it was Bush’s ability to bring the story to life that made it so vivid. She is a distant cousin of the unfortunate Morris and began to research his life and death as a personal project. The deeper she delved, it became apparent that she needed to tell this story. At first, I thought the connection to the Red Baron was played up as a ploy to sell books. Wrong! While von Richtofen plays a very small part in the actual narrative, his embodiment of the German fliers is central to the story.

Golda Eldridge, Lt Col, USAF (Ret), Air Power History, Summer 2020

The book has much of interest for readers of all levels of knowledge. Specialists may wonder if it covers only well-trodden ground, but they would have to be very well-read to find nothing new here. Jill Bush has done all that she possibly could to commemorate two young men who are now more than just names in a casualty list; and, especially for that reason, this is a book that deserves to be read.

Adrian Roberts, The Aviation Historian, January 2020

Jill Bush has done all that she possibly could to commemorate two young men who are now more than just names in a casualty list; and, especially for that reason, this is a book that deserves to be read.

The Aviation Historian, issue 30 – reviewed by Adrian Roberts

As featured by

Fliegerblatt, 6/2019

Article 'Those magnificent men...' as featured by

South London Press, 6th December 2019

'Reads inspired by our county'

Dorset and Daily Echo, 23rd November 2019

'Book round-up: your new favourite novel may be among these Dorset-inspired publications' as featured by

Dorset Echo, 24th November 2019

As featured by

Family Tree, August 2019

This is not just another 'Red Baron' book, it's practically a complete historical account of the Great War.

Mainly following Lionel Morris, a family member of the author, there are sections on others key players of the RFC and the Great War.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to anyone with any interest in WWI, RFC or early war machines.

Read the full review here

Vintage Airfix

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A superb account of the short life of Pilot Lionel Morris,11th Squadron RFC. Morris was part of a team who were true pioneers, mastering powered flight whilst simultaneously enduring new tech frustrations. Jill's writing takes you right there to the western front - her prose as clear and sharp as the skies Morris flew in. A great first book.

Amazon Customer, Andrew Halliday

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A very enjoyable book which has been so well researched. A real insight into the bravery of the young men who went to war and the fearless way they flew such unreliable early war planes.

Amazon Customer

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Gripping, emotional and excellently researched. Thoroughly recommend.

Amazon Customer, Roey

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book began, by the author’s admission, as family history investigation it ended up as an eloquent, poignant and insightful reflection of aviation as it launched into the history books, a documentary about bravery in the airfield and whilst it is a memoir about Lionel, the author’s distant cousin, it is in fact a memoir of so many who stepped forward and served, selfishly for a future they would never get to see.

Amazon Customer

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Lionel Morris was, until now, a Little Known Warrior. His story is revealed by Jill Bush. Her grandfather's first cousin, Morris was the pilot of the first aircraft officially to be shot down by the Red Baron. He fell to earth on 17 September 1916, 103 years ago (tomorrow, as at the date of this review). From the pages of this book, he comes back to life. A combination of previously unpublished archival material, measured research and elegant writing draw together the threads. The subject-mater of the book is serious but the tone has about it a verve and nonchalant wit that must have sustained those pilots during that summer on and over the Somme. It's a book with some swagger. Though published by Pen & Sword, it would be wrong to assume this is niche and for those interested in the nooks and crannies of militaria in the skies; far from it, the quality of the prose and the interest of the story should ensure that whilst this is Jull Bush's first book , it is far from her last. Warmly recommended.

Amazon Customer, Patrick Limb

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The author clearly did their homework and this amazing account is stocked cover to cover with facts and figures that enrich this enthralling WW1 aerial account. Unlike many books in this genre you invest totally in the characters and even though you know completely the inevitable fait of the airmen you have to turn the next page to find out more and more of not only the battles the bravely fought, but the day to day life the encountered as their fascinating stories unfold. If this was a first time publication by the author I can’t wait for another, if this is the standard of research and brilliance brought to every page.

Amazon Customer, Ian M.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Jill Bush’s book is also impressive by being well researched, documented and illustrated. Further, it is the best written World War I aviation history account this reviewer has read in some time."Lionel Morris and the Red Baron - Air War on the Somme" deserves the highest recommendation.

Read the full review here

Peter Kilduff, book review editor, Over the Front

This is an absorbing account of air war over the Somme battlefield and the disadvantages suffered by the RFC. This book provides a rediscovered story 100 years on – Highly Recommended.

Read the full review here


Well researched & engaging reading. Very much recommended.

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Paul Reed via Twitter

I think it's absolutely excellent, what an intriguing title!

Watch the full video review here

Scale Modelling Now

Jill Bush takes part in 'Family Hero' feature

WDYTYA? Magazine, August 2019

A true and proper book of military history, researched and revelatory; better yet, its up close and personal detail brings the air war dangerously alive... A really worthy addition to WW1 studies.

John Lewis-Stempel, Author

I have a relative by marriage who was part of the ground staff during the early days of the Royal Flying Corps, which was shortly to become the RAF, and to read about the exploits of one of its pioneering pilots who actually fought and flew against von Richthofen was an extreme privilege for me. Fantastic.

Books Monthly

This is a homage to a fallen relative but is also much more than that; thoroughly researched and eloquently written it is well worth a read.

Read the full review here

WW1 Geek

Featured in

Great War July 2019

Featured "On The Bookshelf" by Neil Smith for

Wargames Illustrated, June 2019

About Jill Bush

Jill Bush worked mainly in the arts after graduating from Aberdeen University. Her research on the Royal Flying Corps began when she became curious about a family legend of a connection with the Red Baron. She lives in Sussex and blogs on history at www.jillbushwrites.com. Lionel Morris and the Red Baron is her first book.

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