The Diamond King – Excerpt 13

The Diamond King – Excerpt 13

  I wanted another two oxen and had a good idea where I could get them, and at the same time get my revenge on the two men who had cheated me while I was away fighting in the war.

I was almost singing as I rode back to the township, everything was falling in to place perfectly. I knew that whatever happened on the veldt Henrik would take my side, he was young but loyal to me.

I never mentioned it to Mynheer de Klerk, but I had kept the five biggest and best diamonds for myself, they were my bargaining ploy back at the township also the bait to lure my enemies to me. I had unfinished business with them, they were both greedy men and they both owed me, and my feelings were very old testament, ‘An eye for an eye’ not that I was in any way religious, but I like the analogy.

I knew exactly where to find them, They would both be in the pub, Maartens by force of habit and Nathan because he both lived and worked there. I pushed open the door and entered, as I had expected Maartens was sat at his usual table. He looked up and saw me and once again looked frightened, but then he had good cause to be and he knew it.

I walked towards him smiling to put him at his ease at the moment I needed him, ‘Hello Maartens, you know everyone around here, I am in need of two oxen for an expedition I am planning to discover a lost diamond mine. Mynheer de Klerk has kindly invested a wagon with two oxen and a months supplies, but I had set my heart on having four oxen.’ I could see by the expression on his face, that he had taken the bait.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 184 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 184 )

  Several years have passed, James is now a full partner in the business, a partnership that I was happy to give, for he had surpassed even my expectations of him. I had definitely made the right choice when I chose him.

Everything was just so perfect, I have no idea why, but I had an uneasy feeling that something tumultuous was about to happen, something that would change my life once again.

The thing that I had been concerned about happened, not in England but in Serbia, where the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir presumptive to the throne Austro – Hungarian throne and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg were both mortally wounded by Gavrilo Princep, a young nationalist who wanted a free Bosnia and Herzogovina.

This single act precipitated the world in to a war that cost 40 million lives and left the world as we know it in tatters. This happened on June the 28th in Sarejevo, a place most English people didn’t know existed.

At the time I remember reading about in the tabloids, without realising the relevance of it in relation to my own life and future. I think that like most people in this country I thought that it was of no concern to my health and well being, how wrong I was?

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Air Aces of World War One


Captain Albert Ball. V.C. – British Ace 1896 / 1917 Pt.3

  On the 18th of February 1916, Ball joined No.13 Squadron at Marieux in France, flying a two – seat Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c on reconnaissance missions. He survived being shot down by anti – aircraft fire on the 27th of March. Three days later he fought the first of several combats in the B.E.2c. He and his observer Lieutenant S.A.Villiers fired a drum and a half of Lewis gun ammunition at an enemy two – seater but were driven off by the intervention of a second enemy aircraft. After this inconclusive skirmish, Ball wrote home to his parents in one of his many letters, ” I like this job, but nerves do not last long and you soon need a rest.” In letters home to his Father he discouraged the idea of his younger brother following him in to the R.F.C. Ball and Villiers tried unsuccessfully to shoot down an enemy observation balloon in their two – seater on the 10th of April. Ball’s burgeoning skills and his aggressiveness gained him access to the Squadron’s single seat Bristol Scout later that month. April the 19th also saw Ball’s first letter home that mentioned plans “for a most wonderful machine …… heaps better than the German Fokker” it is now generally believed that these “plans” were unconnected with the design of the Austin -Ball A.F.B.1, with which he later became involved.

On the 7th of May 1916, Ball was posted to No.11 Squadron, which operated a mix of fighter aircraft, including the Bristol Scout, Nieuport 16 an d Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2b pushers. On his first day of flying with his new unit, Ball wrote home complaining of fatigue. He was unhappy about the hygiene of his assigned billet in the nearest village, and elected to live in a tent on the flight line. Ball built himself a hut to replace the tent and cultivated a small garden.

To Be Continued…………………….

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 183 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 183 )

  There was no doubt in my mind that James would fulfil his role admirably, he was readily accepted by my two female assistants, and it soon became apparent that even Mrs Mc Ginty had developed a soft spot for him, judging by the size of his desserts.

We rotated between free clinics and patient consultations, that way James could learn to deal with a variety of patients and their maladies. We would often discuss interesting patients or their afflictions over the dinner table, fortunately neither of us found this to be a problem.

The area where James really proved his worth was the laboratory, as a research assistant he was second to none. He catalogued my samples and recorded every stage of our experiments and wrote a conclusion as to their success or failure.

These records proved to be invaluable, when cross – referenced with other source material to try to discover a cure for a particular malady. Our patients were getting the very best of care that we could provide for them.

Several years had passed, James was now a full partner in the business, a partnership that I was happy to give for he had by far exceeded my expectations of him. I had definitely made the right choice when I chose him.

Everything was just perfect, I don’t know why, but I had an uneasy feeling that something tumultuous was about to happen, something that would change my life once again.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Karlstadt – The Return Excerpt 7

Karlstadt – The Return  Excerpt 7

  Jameson, as the man made himself known was a clerk at the Consulate. The Consul would like to meet with us to explain the political situation with regard to our mission. All the arrangements had been made and in the Consular stables three good horses awaited our approval, which was excellent news.

Jameson, ushered us through to meet the Consul, after the introductions were dispensed with, the Consul said, ‘Make yourselves comfortable, Gentlemen and I will update you on the situation as it stands. There is a lot of unrest caused by various factions who seek to overthrow the Monarchy and turn Russia in to a Bolshevik Republic.

‘How will this effect our mission?’ I asked. ‘Probably not at all, as long as you are aware that feelings are running high and all foreigners are being viewed with suspicion, once you are clear of the coast and up in the mountains you should be fine, but I would be lacking in my duty if I did not make you aware of the situation.’

‘Any foreseeable problems likely to arise once we reach the Carpathians, that we should know about?’ I questioned. ‘There are gangs of Brigands operating along your route, but there are two of you and you are both armed with modern weapons, so it is highly unlikely that they would chance their arm with you. One thing that will interest you, the wolf packs appear to be on the increase, so build your fires high and sleep close to them.’ was the Consul’s advice.

(C) Damian Grange 2019


The Diamond King – Excerpt 12

The Diamond King – Excerpt 12

  A wagon and four oxen so that I may find the mine that these stones originated from, I am familiar with the immediate vicinity, so I don ‘t imagine it will be that hard  to find. I could see Mynheer de Klerk considering my offer, then he spoke offering me a counter proposal.

‘And what collateral are you offering me in return for my investment?’ he queried. A fifth share in whatever is found, and you can keep the diamonds on the table as a gesture of good faith,’ I stated. ‘You must be very sure of yourself to virtually give away a fortune in uncut diamonds, I am in, but on my terms, you are the beggar at this table.’

‘I am prepared to offer a wagon, two oxen and a month’s supplies, but only on the condition that Henrik accompanies you to look after my interests.’ ‘You drive a hard bargain Mynheer de Klerk, but I accept it will be a pleasure to ride with Henrik again.’

‘Do you wish to draw up some form of contract, a document to cover your share?’ I offered. ‘I know from Henrik that you are a man I can trust, you are after all leaving a small fortune in uncut diamonds with me, how can I lose? if you return at noon tomorrow everything will be ready for you.’

‘I have a little unfinished business at the township, I will return there now and see you tomorrow, and once again I owe you my thanks, I said in lieu of goodbye.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 182 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 182 )

  James arrived promptly at 10.00 a.m. the following morning, with all his belongings in a large steamer trunk. I summoned McGinty to assist him up the stairs with it and to help him to his room.

I allowed him what I considered was a reasonable time to acquaint himself with his surroundings and settle in, then I knocked on his bedroom door. He opened it almost immediately, and bade me enter, his trunk was open on the floor and all that was left inside were several pairs of shoes and his books.

I asked him, ‘Was now a convenient time to show him around and explain his duties?’ ‘I don’t see why not?’ he immediately replied. I showed him the two rooms that I intended to use as consulting rooms, one for each of us, he commented that his was more than adequate for his needs.

I then led him down to the cellar, explaining on the way that this was where all my experiments were carried out, and that any of my thesis he had read were formulated in this very room.

I unlocked the door and ushered him inside, ‘Its huge, not at all what I expected, although to be quite honest, I have no idea what I really expected? he stated.

‘This, if you wish to call it that, is the nerve centre of the business, this is where I check specimens and attempt to formulate new and advanced cures, I would appreciate if you would assist me in this work,’ I stated. ‘I would be honoured to assist in any way that you require.’ once again his answer was perfect.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Air Aces of World War One


Captain Albert Ball V.C. – British Ace 1896 / 1917 Pt.2

  In June 1915, Ball decided to take private flying lessons at Hendon Aerodrome, which would in turn give him an outlet for his interest in engineering and also possibly help him to see some action in France sooner. He paid to undertake training at the Ruffy – Baumann School which charged £75 – £100 for instruction which in those days was a major investment. Ball would wake at 3.00 a.m. to ride his motorcycle to the Flying School for flying practice at dawn, before beginning his daily military duties at 6.45 a.m. his training at Ruffy – Baumann was not unique, Edwin Cole was learning to fly there at the same time. In his letters to home, Ball recorded that he found flying “great sport”

Although considered an average pilot at best, by his instructors. Ball qualified for his Royal Aero Club Certificate No.1898 on the 15th of October 1915 and promptly requested a transfer to the Royal Flying Corps. He was seconded to No.9 ( Reserve ) Squadron R.F.C. on the 23rd of October and trained at Mousehold Heath Aerodrome near Norwich. In the first week of December he soloed in a Maurice Farman Longhorn after standing duty all night, and his touchdown was rough. When his instructor commented sarcastically on the landing, Ball angrily exclaimed that he had only had 15minutes experience with the plane, and if this was the best instruction he was going to get he would return to his previous unit. The instructor relented, and Ball then soloed again and landed successfully in five consecutive flights. His rough landing was not the last Ball was involved in, He survived two others. He completed his training at Central Flying School, Upavon and was awarded his pilots wings on 22nd of January 1916. A week later he was officially transferred from the North Midlands Cyclists Company to the R.F.C. as a pilot.

To Be Continued……………….

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 181 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 181 )

  I was delighted by his reply, it would appear that in James Cameron I had found the Junior Partner that I was seeking. I enquired, ‘How soon can you move in and begin practicing?’

‘I have booked into a hotel overnight, so with your permission I will move in tomorrow morning after breakfast if that is not inconvenient?’ He replied.

‘That will be just perfect, I will tell Mrs Mc Ginty to air a room for you, once you are settled in, I will show you around and explain your duties. ‘The remainder of the staff will be here on Monday, you have met Jenny briefly, but I will introduce you properly.’ I explained.

‘What may I call you?’ He asked. ‘Jack is fine or if patients are present Doctor Jack, likewise I shall call you James or Doctor James as circumstances dictate.’ I replied.

‘If you have no objections I would prefer to be addressed as Jimmy or Jim, James is a little formal, I want to be accessible to my patients.’

I liked his attitude, he thought on his feet, and I had the feeling that he was just exactly what my practice needed.

(C) Damian Grange 2019


Karlstadt – The Return Excerpt 6

Karlstadt – The Return  Excerpt 6

  My Father had been in contact with the British Consul in Sevastopol, relationships with the Russians were still a little strained, but it was considered safe for us to travel there. My Father arranged for the purchase of three good horses to be waiting at the Consulate for our arrival.

The Russians should not present a problem as we had no plans to stay in Sevastopol any longer than deemed necessary. Our plan was to follow basically the same route that my Father had taken many years previously. To this end he had supplied us with maps of the Carpathians, which clearly showed the route to Karlstadt. To two seasoned campaigners like Jock and myself, finding it should be easy, Its what happened then that might be the hard part.

We left that weekend, with the fond regards of my Mother and Father ringing in our ears. I felt bad about having to deceive my Mother, but my Father had assured me that it was a necessary evil, at least until I had visited Karlstadt and its castle.

Neither Jock nor I were very good sailors, I suppose as sea voyages go it was uneventful enough, but we both preferred the feel of dry land under our feet, whoever’s it was. As soon as we had docked and unloaded our possessions safely, We asked for directions to the British Consulate. Unbeknown to us, they had despatched a man to meet us, who soon made himself known. That immediately solved the language difficulty, he spoke Russian like a native.

(C) Damian Grange 2019