The Ninth Victim – Except 8

After Fouchet had departed, Valjean lifted his suitcase onto the bed. He opened it, flicked a concealed switch which in turn opened a hidden compartment. Valjean shuffled through the contents for a moment, then muttered to himself, ‘Perfect!’ as he examined a press card in the name of Alain Garnier. An alias he had used occasionally in the past.

He rang the Hotel reception and asked if they had a local telephone directory that he might have the use of. They agreed to send one to his room immediately. Valjean thanked them and rang off. Within moments there was a rap on his door, he opened it and there stood a young maid with the requested directory, ‘Merci’ he said, and gave her a generous tip.

After he had closed the door, he sat in a chair and skipped through the pages, he felt sure that de Peysac would have a ‘phone installed. He quickly found it, phone No. and address. He dialled the number, after a couple of rings it was answered, Hello, de Peysac, may I be of assistance. The voice came as a surprise to Valjean, well spoken, one might even say cultured not at all what Valjean had expected.

‘Monsieur de Peysac, my name is Alain Garnier I am a freelance journalist, I am in Carcassone for a few days and wondered if you would be so kind as to allow me to do an in -depth interview with you. I have interest from Paris Match and other magazines.

‘I could spare you a couple of hours this afternoon, if that is convenient, at say 2.30 p.m. ‘That would be perfect, Monsieur de Peysac, thank you so much,’ stated Valjean.’Please call me Marcel, I don’t stand on formalities with the press,’ insisted de Peysac.’Thank you so much Marcel, that is very kind of you.’ ‘Not at all, Alain, I look forward to meeting you this afternoon.’ and with that he rang off.

Valjean slightly perplexed, reached into his pocket and took out a packet of Gauloise, selected one and lit it. Once he had inhaled a few mouthfuls, he began to relax. Marcel de Peysac had surprised him, he was not at all what Valjean had expected, instead of the rough uneducated felon. He had been greeted by what appeared to be an urbane and cultured man.

If his past experiences were anything to go by, this kind of thing never happened. To his way of thinking once a con, always a con. But maybe de Peysac was the exception to the rule, Valjean looked forward to their meeting with some anticipation.

(C) Damian Grange 2020

Air Aces of World War One

Oberleutnant Benno Fiala Ritter von Fernbrugg – Austro – Hungarian Ace1890 / 1964

Benno Fiala von Fernbrugg was born in Vienna to an aristocratic family with a tradition of Military service. Fiala attended primary and secondary school in Vienna, and went on to major in mechanical engineering at the local University of Technology, graduating as an engineer. He had developed an early fascination with Aviation, but was initially refused aviation service, instead being gazetted as an officer in the engineers and assigned to Fort Artillery Regiment 1 in 1910.

Being assigned to the artillery did not however diminish his interest in aviation; his brother was a naval aviator and Fiala visited airports at every opportunity. Whilst on one of these visits, he met Emil Uzelac , Commander of the fledging air force of the Austro – Hungarian Empire. Uzelac arranged Fiala’s transfer to Fliegercompagnie No.1 of the Luftfahrtruppen as a technical officer. Fiala completed his training as a flying observer on the 28th of July 1914, the very day that Austro – Hungary declared war on Serbia.

In November 1914, Fiala took charge of a locomotive of a supply train and drove it to safety even though it was under attack by Russian troops and he was wounded in the action. He was awarded the Silver Military Merit Medal fir his part in this action. On the 10th of November, he also received a most unusual promotion to Leutnant ( Second Lieutenant ) ahead of his sequence in seniority.

Although trained as an observer Fiala’s duties in this the beginning of the war consisted mainly of arming planes with machine guns and experimenting with aerial cameras. He also rigged a 30 kilogram ( 66 pounds ) radio transmitter in an unarmed plane. It was used in May 1915 on the Russian front at the battle of Gorlice-Tarnow by sending corrections to a receiver on the ground, it successfully adjusted mortar fire. Fiala was briefly attached to the testing section of the Air Arsenal before being re-assigned to a flying unit.

Fiala had had a couple of unconfirmed victories whilst flying on the Russian front. Now he was transferred to Fliegercompagnie No. 19 on the Italian front in January 1916. There he flew a Hansa- Brandenburg C1 two-seater reconnaissance plane, scoring his first confirmed victory on the 29th of April 1916. On the 4th of May 1916, he was flying as observer in a Hansa – Brandenburg C1 flown by Adolf Heyrowsky when they teamed up with a second C1 to shoot down the Italian airship M-4. This semi – rigid dirigible had just been returning from a bombing raid when Fiala shot it down over Gorizia, Italy killing the entire crew of six.

Fiala was wounded by anti – aircraft fire at the beginning of 1917. It was during his recuperation that he decided to apply or pilot’s training. After he recovered he moved to Fliegerkorps No.41J, then into a Hansa-Brandenburg D1 fighter in Fliegerkorps No.12D. Starting on the 12th of August, he ran off a string of 5 confirmed and 2 unconfirmed victories. He scored once more in October before changing squadrons once again in November to move into an Albatros D.III with Fliegerkorps No.56J.

He notched up victory number nine with 56J, but didn’t spend long with them. He was placed in Command of 51J in January 1918. His steady accretion of victories helped shape Flik 51J in to the premier fighter squadron of the Austro – Hungarian Air Force. Especially notable was his 14th victory, on the 30th of May 1918 he downed British Ace Alan Jerrard in an action that was so fierce that the loser was awarded the Victoria Cross.

Fiala racked up his 28th victory on the 20th of August 1918, he continued to fly until October but was then posted to non-flying staff duties until the war’s end. The engineer turned fighter pilot had flown on two fronts which had more hazardous flying conditions and less opportunity for air combat than the Western front in France. But Fiala’s victory roll included a dirigible, three observation balloons, and a predominance of enemy fighters he had felled. He had claimed at least five unconfirmed victories. His awards included, The Knights Cross of the Order of Leopold with war decorations and swords, the Order of the Iron Crown 3rd class with war decorations and swords, the Gold Medal for Bravery, Silver and Bronze Military Merit Medals, Military Merit Cross 3rd class and the Iron Cross of 1914, 2nd class.

(C) Damian Grange 2020

The Ninth Victim – Excerpt 7

According to Fouchet, the only person to speak ill of de Peysac was Bruno, the woman’s caretaker, a big oaf of a man who was a poor loser and a nasty drunk. ‘Do you see him as a possible suspect?’ I asked Fouchet.

‘Only of wanting to get between his mistress’s legs, a position already occupied by de Peysac, but yes, he has a violent temper, I believe he could commit murder especially if he was provoked in some way.’ ‘Could he be the killer we are looking for, do you think?’

‘Not unless he is killing on the woman or someone else’s instructions, he hasn’t got the intellect to plan something like that on his own. He might rough up the local whore, but I’d say that’s about his limit, but I’ll still keep an eye on him.’

‘It might be a good idea, I suppose its possible he could be involved in some way, even as an accessory or co-conspirator, or possibly just hired muscle.’ ‘Another point that may be of interest, that I almost forgot,’ said Fouchet, ‘ The woman is due to visit Carcassone, Bruno was whining about the extra work it had made him.’

‘So, she will more than likely be spending some time with de Peysac, I would imagine.’ ‘If they are as close as the rumours, and rumours don’t often lie?’ stated Fouchet. ‘Most especially from the keyholes that you listen at my friend.’ ‘One tries to be discreet.’ smiled Fouchet, ‘Discretion is my profession.’

‘I think?’ said Valjean, ‘That I will arrange to interview de Peysac, in the meantime continue gathering information, we will rendezvous again tomorrow night.’

(C) Damian Grange 2020

Air Aces of World War One

Lieutenant Petar Marinovic – French Ace – 1898 / 1919

Petar Marinovic was born in Paris on the 1st of August 1898, to Velizar and Agripina Marinovic. His father was Serbian and his mother Polish. Marinovic’s paternal grandfather, served as Prime Minister of Serbia between 1873 and 1874, and was Serbian Ambassador to France 1879 to 1889. Marinovic attended school in France and Ireland, and was fluent In English, his nickname was Marino.

At seventeen years old Marinovic enlisted in the 27e Regiment de Dragoons on the 12th of February 1916. On the 6th of July, he transferred to Aviation as a Student Pilot and received Military Pilots Brevet No.4910 on the 15th of November 1916. Marinovic received his graduate diploma on the 19th of March 1917 and was assigned to Escadrille No.38. He became seriously ill shortly afterwards, and had to spend two months in a French Military Hospital.

Upon his release from Hospital, he was assigned to Escadrille No.94 which was being formed near Chalons-en-Champagne. The unit earned their nickname ‘The Reapers’ and adopted the grim reaper as their logo. Marinovic was promoted to the rank of Marechal des Logis on the 26th of July 1917. On the 10th of January 1918, he was awarded the Medaille Militaire in recognition of his third Aerial victory. Marinovic claimed his first four kills flying Nieuport 24’s. On the 30th of January 1918, Escadrille No.94 was relocated to Villenueve-les-Vertus and incorporated into Groupe de Chasse XVIII under the command of Captain Jacques Sabattier de Vignolle.

Marinovic was promoted to Adjutant on the 20th of February 1918. On the 26th of March he attacked a German two-seater 800 metres (2,600 ft) above Caurel, and watched as it spiralled down towards the ground exuding smoke before he disengaged at a height of 400 metres (1,300ft). This was initially listed as a ‘probable kill’ and was not confirmed until after the war. On the 15th of May, he downed a German reconnaissance aircraft over Essertaux, its crew were later taken prisoner. Four days later, Marinovic shot down a Rumpler just south of Moreuill. By this point the French press had begun referring to him as ‘The Youngest Ace’ because of his youth.

On the 31st of May, Marinovic shot down a two-seater near Villers – Cotterets, the pilot Unteroffizier Hippolyt Kaminski was killed and his observer captured. A few minutes later he downed a Fokker Dr1, on the 5th of June Marinovic and Andre- Henri Martenot de Cordou teamed up to destroy a German two-seater over Parcy -et Tigny. On the 1st of July Marinovic downed another Rumpler near Monnes. Two weeks later Marinovic participated in the destruction of two enemy aircraft. On the 22nd of July he destroyed another Rumpler. He was made Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur on the 11th of August 1918. On the 17th of August he shot down a Rumpler and a Fokker D.VII. Marinovic was promoted to Second Lieutenant on the 20th of October and awarded the Croix de Guerre. Marinovic finished the war with a total of 22 victories. He survived the war only to die in a flying accident in 1919.

(C) Damian Grange 2020

The Ninth Victim – Excerpt 6

According to the case file, she was recently divorced and had come to Carcassone to do some research for a book she was working on. She met Dubois in a bar and surprisingly they hit it off, it seems opposites can attract. Within a week they were sleeping together and no doubt with her influence and assistance, virtually overnight, Dubois became Marcel de Peysac, author on the verge of writing his first best-seller.

Dubois, who had spent the major part of his life in the Languedoc area, and knew little of the world beyond, could only write about the things he knew. The local murders that presumably, judging by the amount of detail in his books, only he could have committed? So, once again we come back to the woman, and what is her part in this case.

The more he read, the less sense it made to Valjean. Why would you write about crimes that you were likely to be suspected of. Were you that eager to make the acquaintance of Madame Guillotine, Dubois might not be the brightest, but surely he is not that stupid? that he wishes to place his head on the block.

Well, I will no doubt discover more when I arrive in Carcassone, I have a hunch that this case may yet prove to be interesting.

When I arrived in Carcassone, once I had unpacked my case and settled in my room. I contacted Fouchet and arranged to meet him in the hotel bar, so that he could update me on any information that he had managed to glean.

By all accounts de Peysac was something of a local hero, the majority of locals spoke well of him, definitely a case of local boy makes good. Even though he was an ex-felon who had served a sentence for raping a young girl. But then, that is the media for you, they create heroes from the most undeserving of people. Still, I should not complain, their mistakes keep me employed.

(C) Damian Grange 2020

Air Aces of World War One

Leutnant Otto Parschau – German Ace 1890/1916

Parschau was born in Klausen ( now Klutznick. Poland, in the Allenstein district of East Prussia. He became a commissioned officer a year after having joined the Infanterie Regiment No.151 in 1910. Parschau was trained as a pilot in Johannisthal, Darmstadt and Hanover, receiving his pilot’s licence on the 4th of July 1913.

Upon the outbreak of hostilities in August 1914, Parschau was already serving with the Luftstreitkrafte, and soon found himself flying two-seaters on the Champagne front and then in Flanders and Alsace-Lorraine before being posted to West Prussia and Galicia on the Eastern front.

Parschau was assigned the Fokker A.III aircraft bearing both the Fokker factory serial No. 216 and the Idflieg military serial No.A 16/15. This aircraft had been previously flown by Oberleutnant Waldemar von Buttlar. This unarmed monoplane had been privately purchased in 1913 by von Buttlar. It was requisitioned by the Fliegertruppe and von Buttlar was commissioned as an officer in the German Army at the outbreak of hostilities.

The aircraft was painted in a shade of green that was the same as that used by von Buttlar’s previous Marburg Jager Regiment No.11. Parschau had served with the same, Breiftauben – Abteilung Ostende unit, abbreviated as BAO in German military communications of the time, in Belgium as Oberleutnant von Buttlar did in November 1914. As A 16/15 still bore the same green colour as von Buttler’s old unit, the aircraft became distinctive as Parschau’s ‘Green Machine’ right from the outbreak of World War One.

Parschau flew this machine on a roving commission for nearly a year, serving with FFA’s 22 and 42 and the aforementioned BAO unit, which was a group of four FFA units operating as one for the Oberste Heeresleitung or OHL the German Army’s High Command Office. In May 1915, this machine was the first to be fitted with a workable synchronisation gear; The Fokker Stangensteuerung synchroniser along with a Parabellum MG14 machine gun for its armamant. This aircraft functioned as the prototype Fokker Eindekker for Parschau’s use and combat evaluation.

Because Parschau was recognised as an experienced and proficient pilot, he was selected to go to Feldflieger Abtielung 62 as an instructor on monoplanes. Amongst Parschau’s students at the FFA were the notable pioneer flying aces Oswald Boelcke and Max Immelmann. Despite Parschau’s earlier complaints about his machine gun jamming, he managed to reel off a string of six victories over enemy aircraft between the 11th of October 1915 and the 2nd of July 1916 as part of the Fokker Scourge. on the 3rd of July 1916 he shot down an enemy observation balloon.

In July 1916 he transferred to FFA 32, gaining his 8th victory on the 9th of July 1916. He was awarded the Pour le Merite on the following day. On the 21st of July 1916 Parschau was mortally wounded in a combat with the Royal Flying Corps over Grevilliers. The fatal wound was to the chest, he also suffered a glancing bullet wound to the head, possibly from rounds fired by Capt. John Oliver Andrews. He retained enough control to safely land his aircraft behind German lines. He was rushed to hospital but died on the operating table.

(C) Damian Grange 2020

The Ninth Victim – Excerpt 5

Fouchet for want of a better description, was the spy that Valjean sent in advance of himself to find out whatever he could about the suspects and to tap into any local gossip about the crimes they were going to investigate.

Fouchet arrived and Valjean briefed him regarding the case before them. Fouchet was to leave Paris that night and board the train to Carcassone. ‘When you arrive there, book yourself a room, catch up on some sleep, then do your usual. I’m coming by car, so I will see you in a couple of days,’ were the instructions he gave his colleague.

When Fouchet had left the office, Valjean sat down at his desk, lit a Gauloise and proceeded to examine the case files that he had been given by the prefect of Languedoc.

He was a little surprised by the photograph of the prime suspect, instead of the hardened felon that he expected, the man looked intelligent and cultured, maybe he would prove to be a worthy adversary after all?

The thing that Valjean found difficult to comprehend, was how a young offender could serve his sentence and not be mentally and physically scarred by the time he had spent incarcerated. This man appeared to glorify in what he had done and what he had become.

Valjean knew many ex-cons, in fact he had helped to imprison many of them. But this was the first one who had come out and said prison had changed his life for the better Something here doesn’t ring true, Valjean muttered to himself, once again he had the feeling he was being used.

He was either supremely confident or an idiot, but the report on him suggested otherwise, and the woman, where and how did she fit into this equation.

(C) Damian Grange 2020

Air Aces of World War One

LT. Jan Olieslagers – Belgian Ace – 1883 / 1942 Pt.2

Olieslagers appears to have begun 1917 with a new aircraft, probably the Hanriot Hd1 in which he scored two more unconfirmed victories. Then on the 14th of June he destroyed a German reconnaissance plane over Schore. The following day he scored for the fourth time, setting a Fokker DII afire over Keiem. Two more unconfirmed victories followed. Then on the 4th of November 1917, he fainted while flying and crashed onto Les Moeres Aerodrome. He was taken to hospital in a coma but aroused a few days later.

He returned to flight duty in January 1918, but did not score again until the 3rd of May, on that day he had one of two claims confirmed. On the 19th of May he set an Albatros Dva aflame over Woumen for his last official victory. Although he would have one more unconfirmed victory.

As if his own poor record of approvals was not sufficient to keep his score low. He also habitually took the fight to the Germans and was indifferent to the paperwork for staking claims. Although he submitted one combat report on March the 30th 1916 for a witnessed triumph behand enemy lines, which went unverified for the lack of an officers confirmation, he usually did not bother to claim for victories behind the enemy lines. Jan Olieslagers seldom took leave, he tended to busy himself around his home aerodrome and the aircraft assigned to him. He habitually broke in new pilots, cushioning their entry in to the harsh world of Aerial warfare.

Olieslagers was an excellent pilot and he had his brother Jules for a talented mechanic. This combination usually meant a reliable aircraft under the ace, but on the 9th of November 1918, engine problems bought Olieslagers down in a field near Eeklo. It was his 518th and final combat sortie of the war. He had fought in 97 dogfights over a four year period.

He was awarded The Order of Leopold the Second, The Croix de Guerre by Belgium and the French Legion d’Honneur and Croix de Guerre and the Russian Order of Saint Stanislas.

(C) Damian Grange 2020

The Ninth Victim – Excerpt 4

‘Who do I contact, if I need assistance or back-up?’ queried Valjean.

‘I will give you both my office and mobile no’s, but please try and keep this matter as confidential as possible, I have no wish to undermine my own officers.’ replied Monsieur Dupin.

‘Any more questions? Valjean, or may I leave it in your capable hands,’ asked the Commissioner.

‘There is just one thing more, I would like photographs of the suspect and his woman and where they can be found, the rest you may leave in my hands,’ stated Valjean confidently.

‘Your Commissioner has a file which contains all the information that I possess to date, I trust that you will find it useful, I think that it comprises everything you need to bring him to justice.’ stated Monsieur Dupin.

‘I will certainly do my best to apprehend the culprit, whoever he happens to be, I am coming to you with an open mind and I will investigate all aspects of the case as I see fit.’ stated Valjean.

‘That is all I ask of you, Inspector, Bon Chance!’ replied Monsieur Dupin.

As he left the Commissioner’s office Valjean’s mind was racing. If this case was so straight forward why had Dupin requested outside help. Valjean’s instincts were crying out that there was something very wrong about this case. Time will tell?

Valjean returned to his own office with the case files, he placed them on his desk, then summoned his associate Bertrand Fouchet. Fouchet was a small non-descript individual whom no one would ever suspect of being a member of the Police force. Which was one of the reasons that Valjean and he were such a successful team.

(C) Damian Grange 2020