Alec Byrd

Name: Alec Byrd
Theater: Battle of Britain
Nationality: New Zealander
Position: Fighter Pilot, Royal Air Force


Sergeant Alec Byrd is a young Kiwi plucked from New Zealand to England, who joined the RAF to shore up the air force to defend against the Germans. His background doesn’t hold up to much scrutiny. He’s no university boy and he certainly doesn’t come from any important family. Rumor has it he’s the bastard spawn of some nobody fisherman. He was enlisted as a mechanic, but the desperation for pilots and his enthusiasm for flying allowed him to gain a spot in pilot training. He proved adept enough, though it remains to be seen if his eagerness for flight will be enough to keep him alive. Off-duty he’s a jolly kid, always up for a joke or a drink or chasing a pretty skirt. His ‘mates’ gave him the moniker of "Chicky" during flight training: a play on his name and his inexperience.

Background: The Bastard from Christchurch

Alec Byrd comes from humble beginnings, to put it kindly. He's the one and only son of Maggie Pearse, the daughter of a modestly successful grocer in Christchurch, New Zealand, and Felix Byrd, a local fisherman and good-for-nothing layabout. His parents weren't what you'd call properly wed. They took up together for a couple weeks in 1917, shortly before Felix was shipped to the Western Front - one of a million nobodys to toss their bodies into the trenches on behalf of King and Country. Alec was conceived after one particularly enjoyable drunken night, not that his father was ever the wiser. Felix was sent off to the trenches of France to fight the Great War, where he eventually came out the worse in an encounter with a German machinegun. He died never knowing he had a son, and Alec came into the world in 1918, a poor bastard from a long line of poor bastards.

Maggie's father demanded she give the child up but she refused. She was a strong-minded woman who wasn't about to see her son raised by another. And, deep down in her heart, she'd loved for his sod of a father. She wanted to keep some part of him. When her own family turned her out she looked up the Byrds. She found a home for her and her boy with Felix's mother, Alicia, and the two women set about attempting to raise the lad.

Life wasn't easy for the little makeshift family, especially in the hard economic times that led up to the 1930s, but they survived. Maggie took odd jobs as a housemaid, cook, serving maid and laundress. But she was also an attractive woman, which played a large part in keeping them out of poverty. Maggie had many lovers in and out of her life. Farmers, ship captains, artists, bureaucratsetc. All of them were happy to ply her with gifts, for a time, though they all eventually dropped her when they wanted to find a proper lady to marry. Alec was only dimly aware of most of these men. Maggie kept that part of herself as separate from her family as she could. But he was keenly conscious of the fact that he didn't have anything resembling a father in his life, and gradually realized he likely never would.

Grandmother Byrd was most responsible for keeping an eye on Alec. She was determined to shape him into a more solid citizen than her own son had been, so she saw that he was properly schooled. Alec developed a keen mind, particularly for the sciences. He loved to puzzle out how things worked, to sit down and take something apart and study all the pieces that went into it. This turned into a passion for mechanics. He started disassembling and tinkering with bicycles not long after learning to ride them. This naturally grew into a fascination with cars and, the ultimate piece of machinery, airplanes.

Aviation was still a bold new experiment at the beginning of the 20th century and, like so many boys, it fired young Alec's imagination. At the age of 10 he and some friends were lucky enough to see a bit of an air race by the Wellington Aero Club and, from that moment, he was hooked. He read every boy's book about daring pilots he could get his hands on, absorbing those tales of glory like a sponge. Those brave, dashing men seemed so far removed from his own lowly little existence. This, Alec thought, is what I want to be.

He never figured he'd get his wish. He wasn't a rich boy and never had the money or the chance to try his hand at private aviation. So he did the next best thing. When he was of age he joined the air force. Not as a pilot, of course. He was definitely not officer material. But he managed to get into training as a mechanic. He enjoyed it, for the most part. He made good friends among the other enlisted chaps, all good lads to go drinking and skirt-chasing with. And getting a chance to fiddle around with airplanes was a dream come true. Almost.

Ironically, it was a world-wide calamity that gave young Byrd a chance at his real dream. The Royal Air Force was bracing to take on Germany in 1939. They were desperate for pilots. This desperation led them to pluck most any able and willing man they could get. They even recruited heavily from the humble ranks of enlisted mechanics. Byrd applied for pilot training in the RAF and was lucky enough to get himself accepted. As soon as he was air-worthy he was sent off to England, to join the flyboys against the Hun. He earned the callsign "Chicky" during flight training, both a play on his name and his youthful exuberance.

Byrd still can't quite believe what he's gotten himself in to. He's young, still infected with the idea of war as a daring game rather than a horrific slaughter, and he doesn't take his situation nearly as serious as would be good for him. He's brave, and he has a thirst to prove himself as more than just another bastard from Christchurch. Part of him longs to win some glory for his name. But part of him also still feels inferior to the polished pilot officers around him and he wonders if he'll be up for the task of being a fighter pilot. Whether he'll soar or crash in a ball of flames is yet to be determined.


A Night at the Frog and Frigate - Byrd, Everson and Squire bond drunkenly, as pilots do.
Actung Spitfire!!! - Byrd, Hussar and Murray get a chance to fly the Spitfires!

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 License.