Valjean and the Hydra – Excerpt 1

Montmartre was dark and dismal in the early hours of the morning. The Restaurants and Cabarets were closed. It had been raining persistently all night and the gutters were running with water, underfoot the roads were slippery and treacherous.

Detective Inspector Valjean was pursuing a suspect, he was alone and on foot. The suspect had managed to keep a few yards in front by dodging down the many dark alleys and short cuts. He was obviously very familiar with the area.

Valjean heard a clatter close by, he was just about to investigate when a cat ran by him hotly pursued by a dog. Valjean cursed under his breath, then smiled, he was getting jumpy. He heard another noise, ran around the corner with his gun raised, then was thrown backwards as a bullet struck him in the shoulder.

Valjean sat for a moment on the floor, regardless of the damp seeping through his clothing, ‘ So this is the way you want to play it my friend, then to the death it is!’

Valjean, putting all his weight on his good shoulder, raised himself to a kneeling position and cautiously peered around the corner. Another shot rang out and he felt it carve a furrow in the side of his head. ‘That was a little too close for comfort’ muttered Valjean. He again leaned around the corner and fired one shot, watching for the muzzle flash from his assailants returned fire. Once he had located his adversary, Valjean triggered of four shots in quick succession in his adversary’s general direction.

Valjean waited but his shots were not returned, he gave it a moment or two longer by way of caution then ran towards the direction of his shots. When he reached his adversary, he was lying in the road wounded. Valjean stood over him, lifted his weapon and shot him straight between the eyes. Then Valjean collapsed and lay on the damp street beside him.

(C) Damian Grange 2021

Air Aces of World War One

Rittmeister Karl Bolle – German Ace – 1893 / 1955

Karl Bolle was born in Berlin on the 20th of June 1893, to a family who owned a well-known diary. He studied at the University of Oxford in 1912, and he was also known for his athletic prowess, playing ice hockey whilst there. He returned home to Germany to enlist as a Leutnant in the 7th Magdeburg Cuirassiers ‘von Seydlitz Regiment’ in 1913 as a one -year volunteer. At the start of World War One his regiment served on the Western Front, seeing fighting in both Belgium and the First Battle of the Marne. It was then transferred to the Eastern Front. Bolle seeing action in Poland and in Courland in Latvia. By the end of 1915, Bolle had won an award for bravery, the Iron Cross, Second Class and a transfer to the Luftstreitkrafte.

He undertook his initial training at Johannisthal, then was forwarded to Fliegerersatz – Abtielung 5 in Hannover, Germany. Later he trained to become a fighter pilot at Valenciennes, France, at Jastaschule 1. The standard German practice at this time was to be trained initially and then serve initially in a two-seater unit, in this instance Kampfgeshwader der Oberste Heeresleitung IV in July 1916, and then later transferred for training as a fighter pilot at a Jastaschule where they would be closely tutored by experts with frontline experience. They also had access to captured British and French fighters to familiarise themselves with their opponents aircraft.

Bolle was wounded in October 1916, in combat with five French fighters. He crash landed in German lines and despite his own injury managed to drag his observer to safety, out of the range of the shellfire directed at their fallen aircraft. Upon his recovery he was assigned to Kampfstaffel 23 of Kampfgeschwader der Oberste Heeresleitung IV, Lothar von Richtofen was assigned as his observer / gunner. It was about this time that Bolle was awarded the Kingdom of Wurttemberg’s 2nd Class Order of the Knight;s Cross of the Friedrich Order. He was the only German fighter ace to be given this award.

Bolle went to Jastaschule ( Fighter Pilot’s Training ) in early 1917. He joined Jagdstaffel 28 in April 1917, while still recovering from a leg wound, whilst engaged as a non-flying adjutant he began tutelage on the fighter pilot’s craft with two aces, Karl Emil Schaefer and Otto Hartmann as well as Bolle’s friend Max Ritter von Mulzer. In July he commenced operational flying with Jagdstaffel 28. His first victory was over an Airco D.H.4 of No. 57 Squadron R.F.C. on the 8th of August 1917. He scored once more in August and victories in December and January 1918 made him an ace by January the 30th 1918.

He was then promoted to Oberleutant and transferred to command Jagdstaffel 2 on the 20th of February 1918 at Marcke, France. This was the Squadron that Oswald Boelcke had commanded as he invented the first fighter tactics, strategy and organisation. It was being re-equipped with Fokker DR.1 Triplanes as it was being incorporated into Jagdgeschwader 3. It was a dispirited Squadron having lost three consecutive Pour le Merite holding commanding officers killed in combat. Despite his seemingly modest credentials, Bolle proceeded to make his mark on the Squadron. The Fokker Triplane suppled was an aircraft of limited speed but great manoeuvrability and climb rate. Its slower speed made it more difficult to close to short distance for gunnery against faster fighters. Bolle’s solution was the use of an Oigee telescopic sight for his guns. He also had painted distinctive white stripes on his upper wing to denote his leadership role, along with a yellow fuselage band edged with black and white to honour his old cavalry regiment. His command of English turned out to be useful on occasion, when he questioned British Empire fliers.

He opened his tally with Jagdstaffel 2 on the 25th of April 1918, as part of a huge Air offensive to support the ground assault on Kemmel Ridge. He then began a steady collection of single and double victories, with five in May, seven in June, nine in July and three in August 1918. When he had scored 28 victories he was awarded the Military Merit Cross and the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern; The Pour le Merite ( Blue Max ) was awarded on the 28th. Bolle did not score again until the 1st of November, on the 4th of November he downed four British fighters, two RAF S.E.5a’s of No.56 Sqdn. and two Sopwith Snipes of No.4 Sqdn AFC. The Snipes were shared with Leutnant Ernst Bormann were flown by Aces, Captain Thomas Baker ( 12 victories ) and Lt.A.J.Pallister ( 7 victories ) These were Bolle’s final victories. A week later he and his pilot’s defiantly marked their Fokker D.VII’s with their names and victory scores before surrendering them into British hands at Nivelles, Belgium. Bolle’s final score of 36 victories included a preponderance of victories over enemy fighters, he had downed 25. The other 11were two – seater reconnaissance, ground attack and bomber aircraft. More importantly, he led Jagdstaffel 2 through the intense battles of 1918 to the second highest victory total in the German Air Force, with a total of 336 victories to the Jasta.

(C) Damian Grange 2021

The Ninth Victim – Excerpt 29

‘ Detective Inspector Valjean, I am glad that we got here in time, your colleague Sergeant Fouchet was most insistent that we came with all haste. He seemed to think that you could be in a dangerous situation.

‘ My thanks to you and your colleagues, and of course, Fouchet, who I will thank in person, but how did you know where to find me?’

‘ I hate to admit it, but since you arrived in Carcassone I have had a tracker installed in your car. i had heard of your reputation as an honest officer, I also suspected Raoul Dupin but he was my superior and did his level best to keep me in the dark about his activities. But like you, I had belief in de Peysac and very little faith in my superior. As you can imagine I was overjoyed when I found that you were coming to oversee the investigation.’

‘But why all the secrecy, why not put me in the picture and allow me to decide?’

‘I know Dupin and the steps he is prepared to take to cover his tracks, this way you could work un hindered and I and my colleagues would have your back.’

‘You will hear no complaints from me, your timing was perfect.’

‘My name is Etienne Dubois, I am or was, Raoul Dupin’s deputy, I was just an officer when Pierre gave himself up and admitted to the crime that he had committed. I have never seen a man so ashamed of what he had done and so determined to take his punishment like a man. I have to admit that I was impressed by his honesty.#

‘Dubois? are you related?’ queried Valjean.

‘ I am Pierre’s cousin, Dupin is not the only one with relatives. I was ordered to take no part in the ensuing investigation, but when I was promoted I went through the files and discovered that my cousin at Dupin’s instigation had received the highest possible sentence and so I decided as a consequence to get involved in the investigation of the murders that followed Pierre’s release. There were other officers involved too, Dupin may be Prefect but he is neither liked nor respected.’

‘Well it would seem that you have all the evidence that you need to convict him, if you take my advice you will lean on Bruno, to my way of thinking he is the weak link in the chain. There is no doubt in my mind that Raoul Dupin is the killer, who would suspect the Prefect of Police?’

‘Only the majority of his subordinates, but getting the evidence was another story. But thanks to you and your colleague we now have a cast iron case against him and his relatives.’

Pierre Dubois, now dressed and cleaned up from his ordeal at the hands of Bruno, came up to Valjean and offered his hand, ‘Thank you! for saving my life and having belief in me, when all the evidence said different.’

Vajean smiled and said, ‘ You convinced me, now you have to convince others and lay the guilt where it really belongs.’


(C) Damian Grange 2021

Air Aces of World War One

Sous Lieutenant Rene Pierre Marie Dorme – French Ace 1894 /1917

Rene Dorme was born on the 30th of January 1894 in Aix – Aboucourt in the Meuse area of France. Dorme spent his youth in a Catholic and patriotic environment in Briey, where his father, Adolphe was the station master. he obtained his certificate of studies ( at this time passed by 20% of his age group ) and returned to working life fairly quickly. With the intention of studying law, he decided to advance his military service by three years and enlist at the age of 18. Dorme is called up in 1912, and posted to Bizerte in Tunisia with the 7th Artillery Group. His education allowed him to access the ranks of at first Brigadier and later Marechal de logis. On the 1st of August 1914, the day of General Mobilisation, He is a Marechal de logis, Quartermaster at the Bizerte camp. The details of his activity during the first days of the war from the personal diary he maintains.

His role, which consists of receiving and distributing uniforms to reservists, is a ‘moth guard’ job that holds no satisfaction for him. He wrote that he wanted to return to France where the first fighting was taking place. In response to a request asking for volunteers to serve in aviation, he embarked for France on the 9th of December 1914, writing, ‘I have a happy heart and I want to eat goat’s ears.’ After spending one month in Lyon, in the 2nd Aviation Group, he received on January the 17th, the order to join the Saint-Cyr aviation centre as a pyrotechnician. No post is assigned to him, ‘We have about thirty non-commissioned officers here who do nothing, even less than in Lyon. When artillery observers were recruited, Dorme volunteered, and received on the 1st of February 1915, the order to report to the Caudron school in Buc to begin his apprenticeship there. After a few days of flights he left Buc to go to Pau on February the 13th, where he took the civil patent tests on a Bleriot XI ( Gnome engine ) on April the 24th 1915. His diploma, No.1933 was awarded to him on the 6th of May. The school principal gave his assessment, ‘A very good student, thoughtful, calm and straightforward. Must make a great pilot.’ On his return to Saint-Cyr he passed his military certificate No. 1946 on the 5th of June 1915.

First assigned to the C.94 Squadron based in Villacoublay in which he won his first victory aboard a Caudron G.4 on April the 3rd the company of Private Huillet above Carlepont. Rene Dorme served for a time in the N.29 Squadron, deployed in Pons. Then on May the 27th 1916 he joined the N.3 Squadron, This one, prestigious formation then commanded by Capitaine Antonin Brocard, was going to become at the the end of October 1916, one of the so-called ‘Stork ‘ Squadrons thus becoming a part of Combat Group 12 in the company of Squadrons 26. 73, and 103. Immersing himself in aerial combat, Rene Dorme, whom his squadron comrades affectionately called ‘Papa’ did not take long to make himself noticed, indeed, although freshly arrived, he declares no less than eight victories for the month of July 1916, this includes a double on the 27th. However, only two victories will be formalized, it must be said that the French homologation procedure put in place by Brocard is very restrictive, requiring three independent witnesses, which for the pilots is almost impossible to satisfy, especially as the combats have most likely taken place behind enemy lines and in consequence witnesses are not legion.

His career as a fighter pilot will be like the month of July, marked by heroic acts, on which, for lack of being formalized, history is silent. According to his mechanic’s recollections and the notes in his logbook, he claimed no less than 94 aerial victories. According to the list of French victories made by Bailey and Cony, and after examination of the victories listed by Chassard, He thus declared 63 in the registers and he will be credited with 23. His feat of arms earned him the Medaille Militaire, pinned on his chest by the President of the Republic. Chevalier de la Legion d’ Honneur and the Croix de Guerre with seventeen palms ( although it was said he subsequently kept his decorations in a pocket and never wore them. Rene Dorme is along with others like Rene Fonck and Georges Maddon, One of the French pilots of the First World War who was denied the most victories.

His reputation among his peers was quite unique, Capitaine Georges Guynemer when speaking of Dorme stated, ‘One comes down a day’ Commander Brocard said of him, ‘ He was neither more nor less then the best element with in the Storks.’ He disappeared in the evening of May the 26th between 7.00p.m and 9.00p.m. After a first exit in the morning and having probably shot down a Albatros ‘C’ type between Epoye and Berru at 8.10a.m. He took off again at 06.40p.m in the company of Lieutenant Albert Deullin to carry out a round of the enemy lines.

The French pilots flying SPAD.VII’s intercept a group of 4 to 6 German fighters, east of Reims and engage in combat despite the enemy’s superior numbers, Albert Deullin will report that he saw Dorme bring down one of the German planes in flames before losing track because he himself was forced to fight against other hunters. When the fight is over. he will see a French Plane smoking in the trenches on the way home. There appears to be little doubt that the aircraft was that of Rene Dorme, the one who proudly wore the Cross of Lorraine on his fuselage. However there remains uncertainty as to the conditions of his death and the identity of his nemesis.

His fall may seem to match the report by the German ace Heinrich Kroll of Jasta 9, however and like so many other instances of this type there will undoubtedly and forever remain grey areas. Leutnant Kroll mentions a fight that ended with the fall of his adversary, without stating objectively that he was the direct cause, on Fort de Pompelle which was at that time under the control of the French forces. However Rene Dorme fell behind German lines, so Kroll’s testimony is doubtful at best. Other German fighter pilots who patrolled the Reims area that day claimed a victory over a SPAD at the end of the day. They are Leutnant von Breiten – Landenberg, also of Jasta 9, as well as Hauptmann Eduard Ritter von Schleich, the commanding officer of Jasta 21, the latter declaring having lost a colleague who went down in flames, this loss could correspond at least in part with the attack carried out by Rene Dorme and witnessed by Albert Deuillin before he loses sight of him. Dorme’s death along with those of Albert Ball and Manfred von Richtofen will go down along with others as the unsolved mysteries of World Wat One.

The majority of this article was translated from the French, so please excuse any mistakes I may have made in translation. I am no scholar.

(C) Damian Grange 2021


The Ninth Victim – Excerpt 28

Valjean still could not accept that they had killed eight innocent young girls merely to incriminate one man with their murders. They were all either raving mad or there had to be a deeper reason?

Then suddenly a thought struck him, what if Dupin was the one with a penchant for young girls. He was a man no one would suspect, and he was in the perfect position to place the blame on de Peysac, a convicted rapist. Now it was all beginning to make sense.

The woman was just an excuse, not a reason. Brilliant deduction, thought Valjean but a little late in this particular game and how do I prove it while my own and de Peysac’s life are in jeopardy.

Then just as Valjean thought that all was lost, suddenly a voice rang out, ‘Police, you are surrounded, drop your weapons and place your hands behind your heads.’

Dupin immediately grabbed Valjean with the intention of using him as a shield. Valjean smiled to himself, this was just the move he had expected him to make. Dupin was an administrator, he hadn’t spent time on the streets like Valjean and that inexperience would prove to be his undoing.

Valjean stamped on Dupin’s foot at the same time doing a reverse headbutt. As Dupin fell Valjean wrenched the pistol from his hand and pointed it at him. Now their situations were reversed.

‘Now Bruno, if you will be so kind as to untie Monsieur de Peysac and please don’t try to be smart, I really think I would enjoy killing you, so please don’t tempt me,’

As Valjean spoke, several armed and uniformed Police surrounded the area, led by a tall man in civilian clothes.

(C) Damian Grange 2021

Air Aces of World War One

Leutnant Emil Thuy – German Ace – 1894 / 1930

Emil Thuy was born in Hagen, Germany, the son of a factory owner. He as interested in aircraft even as a child, building models and test flying a glider. After graduation from secondary school, he worked for a while in a colliery in Lebanon, Germany. He then enrolled in 1913 in the Faculty of Mining at the Technical University 0f Clausthal, he had an interest in Metalurgical Engineering. In August 1914 he volunteered to serve as a pioneer, which was the German equivalent of a Combat engineer. After only sex weeks of basic training he was rushed in to combat. In November 1914 he was so severely wounded he was so severely wounded as to be considered unfit for further Military service. Nevertheless, when he had recuperated sufficiently, He volunteered for the Imperial German Air Service. He underwent aviation training in Berlin. He then reported for duty with FFA 53, which was a reconnaissance unit that spotted and directed artillery fire from the air. He reported in on the 10th of July 1915 as a Vizefeldwebel ( non- commissioned pilot ) Despite flying a two – seater aircraft poorly suited for combat flying, Thuy scored his first aerial victory on 8th of September 1915.

On the 1st of November 1916, He entered fighter pilot training, graduating only 18 days later. He was then assigned to Jagdstaffel 21, at that time equipped with Albatros fighters. He was commissioned as Leutnant ( Lieutenant ) in the reserves on the 7th of March 1917 after three weeks training. On the 16th of April 1917, with Jasta 21 he scored his second victory, after which he increased his tally on a regular basis. By the time he left Jasta 21 on the 29th of September 1917, his total stood at 14, with the 14th being shot down on the 22nd of September. He then transferred to Jagdstaffel 28, which had lost two Commanders killed in action, in the previous month. On the 24th of October he scored his first victory with his new Squadron. He continued to accumulate wins on a steady basis, in ones and two’s.

He was injured in a crash on the 2nd of February 1918. On the 20th he was discharged from hospital and returned to duty. On the 30th of June 1918, he was awarded the Order pour le Merite ( The Blue Max ) At about this time he changed aircraft from the Pfalz D.III he had been flying to the Fokker D.VII. In July 1918, Jagdgruppe 7 was founded, incorporating his Jasta and three others. Thuy commanded both JG7 and Jasta 28 simultaneously. He ended his victory string on the 14th of October 1918 with a double victory. Thuy finished the war with a total of 35 victories and awards which included The Iron Cross, both First and Second Class, the Order Pour le Merite ( The Blue Max ) and The Knights Cross of the Military Merit Order of Wurttemburg and The Order of the House of Hohenzollern.

(C) Damian Grange 2021

The Ninth Victim – Excerpt 27

It suddenly became all too clear to Valjean, the man behind him was Raoul Dupin, the man who had pleaded that Valjean be assigned to this case. But Valjean , a man who worked the cases depending on the evidence presented to him, had assessed the evidence and found de Peysac not guilty but innocent. And now it seemed they were both to be made to pay for his decision.

Dupin moved from behind Valjean and stood pointing the pistol at him, he started to gloat, ‘You were clever, Valjean, but the one thing you missed was family, that was the missing connection the one that you brooded over. We are all cousin’s and in this area we look after our own, I imagine you might call it a vendetta!’

‘Vendetta against de Peysac, I can almost understand, but why kill eight innocent young woman, why did they have to die? Unless there is something else that you are concealing ?’

‘So, that we had a cast iron case against de Peysac , our mission was to have him imprisoned for life, or commit suicide in remorse, but now the boars can have him.’

‘But you still haven’t explained why? No one goes to these extremes without a perfectly good reason, so tell me, what is yours, try to convince me?’ pleaded Valjean.

‘Is not beating and raping our cousin, not reason enough?’ replied a petulant Dupin.

‘At the time, yes! but not now, you have let hatred consume your thinking so that you, yourselves have become worse than him. And please remember he pleaded guilty and served ten long years for what he did.’

‘ He ruined her life ,he stole her youth!’ responded Dupin angrily.

‘But he turned himself in and served ten years in prison, what of that, he did all that the law required of him and managed to turn his life around. Your cousin is a rich and successful author despite de Peysac, so why?’

Valjean wanted to keep them talking, whilst they were communicating, de Peysac lay on the ground, better that than the boar pen. Valjean was looking for some sign of weakness, so that he could retaliate in some way, but with a gun pointing at his stomach and odds of four too one, that chance seemed unlikely at best.

(C) Damian Grange 2021

Air Aces of World War One

Captain Andrew Beauchamp-Proctor V.C. – South African Ace – 1894 / 1921

Beauchamp-Proctor was born on the 4th of September 1984, in Mossel Bay, Cape Province, the second son of a school teacher. He attended the oldest school in the country, South African College Schools in CapeTown, where he was a resident of the oldest residence in the country, College House Residence, where his father was warden. He was studying engineering at the University of CapeTown when the European war broke out. He took leave from his studies to join the Duke of Edinburgh’s Own Rifles. He served as a signalman in the German South-West Africa Campaign. In August 1915 he was demobilised with an honourable discharge. He promptly went to work with the South African Field Telegraph and re-enrolled in University. He managed to complete his third year at University before re-enlisting, this time with the Royal Flying Corps ( RFC ) in March 1917.

He was accepted as an Air Mechanic, Third Class, from there he passed on to pilot training at the School of Military Aeronautics at Oxford in England, where he was also commissioned. He managed to learn to fly despite his wiry stature and height of only 5ft 2ins. His aircraft had to be altered to accommodate him, his seat was raised so that he could have a better view from the cockpit and so that he could reach the controls. Blocks were fastened to the rudder bar so that he could reach it. On June the 10th, he soloed after just five hours’ flying time. He crashed upon landing, wiping out the landing gear. Nevertheless, he continued to fly solo. He was passed on to a Bomber Squadron, No.84, with a little under ten hours flying experience. When he joined 84 Squadron in July 1917, it was re-forming as a Fighter Squadron.

On the 23rd of September 1917, the unit went to France flying S.E.5’s. Under the command of Major William Sholto Douglas, the unit became one of the most effective scout squadrons in the RFC / RAF in 1918. the squadron would be credited with a victory total of 323, and would produce 25 aces. However Beauchamp-Proctor would be pre-eminent, with almost triple the number of successes than to the second leading ace. He was not particularly rated as a pilot, but he was a deadly shot. Beauchamp-Proctor’s piloting skills can be judged by the fact that he had three landing accidents before he ever shot down an enemy plane. He continued to fly the S.E.5 with the earlier mentioned alterations to the aicraft’s seat and controls, something his Philadelphia born, American squadron mate, Joseph ‘Child Yank’ Boudwin, who stood only two inches taller and who would himself eventually be posted to the USAAS’s S.E.5a equipped 25th Aero Squadron just days before the Armistice, also had to use. The alterations to relatively primitive controls could hav e helped contribute to Beauchamp-Proctor’s poor airmanship.

His first conformed victory didn’t come until the turn of the year. on the 3rd of January 1918, he sent a German Two-seater ‘down out of control’. He then claimed four more victories in February, becoming an ace on the final day of the month. Only one of his five victories resulted in the destruction of the enemy, the other four were sent down, ‘out of control’. March bought four more victories; three of them scored within the space of five minutes on the 17th of March. He tallied one victory in April. Among his 11 victories for the month of May were five on the 19th of May. On that morning, he knocked an enemy observation plane out of the battle, fifteen minutes later he destroyed an Albatros D.V Scout. That evening, at about 6:35 p.m., He downed three more Albatros D.V’s. By the 31st of May, his victory tally had climbed to 21 victims. 16 fighters and 5 observation aircraft, by this point he had destroyed six enemy planes single handed, and shared in the destruction of 2 others, he drove 10 down ‘out of control’ and shared in another ‘out of control’ victory. Two of his victims were captured. Certainly a creditable record, and like may other aces, no conquests over balloons.

The next day marked a change of focus for him; he shot down an observation balloon. Balloons guarded by anti – aircraft artillery and patrolling fighter aircraft, were very dangerous targets. Commonly they were hunted by co – ordinated packs of fighters. For the remainder of his career, he would choose to blind the enemy by concentrating on shooting down kite balloons and observation aircraft. Also noticeable is the drop in ‘out of control’ victories; from here on out, the record shows destruction after destruction of the enemy. His June string would only run to the 13th of June, but in that time, he would destroy four balloons, an observation two-seater and a fighter. Only the fighter went down ‘out of control.’ On the 22nd of June, he was awarded the Military Cross. July would pass without incident, then on the 3rd of August he was awarded one of the first ever Distinguished Flying Crosses.

The break in his victory string lasted almost a month, as he went on home leave and and helped a recruitment drive for the RAF. On the 8th of August, he returned and resumed with tall number 29, another balloon. On the 9th of August Beauchamp-Proctor was leading No.84 Squadron on a patrol over their base at Bertangles, with Boudwin and six foot four tall fellow South African as wingmen. The threesome got involved in a heated engagement at 2:00p.m. that involved them in combat against Fokker D.VII’s of JG1, led that day by the future Nazi Reichsmarschall Herman Goering. Unsuccessful at increasing his total that day, Beauchamp-Proctor would claim an additional 14 aircraft and end the month with his claims list extended to 43. One memorable day was the 22nd of August, He attacked a line of six enemy balloons over the British 3rd Corps front. He set the first one afire with his machine guns and forced the other five to the ground, their observers taking to their parachutes. His 15 victories for August would include six balloons, all destroyed and two more two- seaters, he was now up to 43 victories. His September claim would be all balloons, four of them. In the first few days of October, he would destroy three more balloons and three Fokker D.VII fighters, one of which burned, and another spun out of control. On the 8th of October he was hit by ground fire and wounded in the arm, putting an end to his front line service. Beauchamp-Proctor’s victory total was 54; two and one shared captured enemy aircraft, 13 and 3 shared observation balloons destroyed, 15 and 1 shared aircraft destroyed and 15 and 1 shared aircraft out of control. His 16 balloons downed made him the British Empire’s leading balloon buster. On the 2nd of November 1918 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, followed by the Victoria Cross on the 30th of November. All of his victories were scored flying the S.E.5 becoming the most successful pilot on this type.

(C) Damian Grange 2021

The Ninth Victim – Excerpt 26

The woman looked triumphant, this was obviously the culmination of several years work and planning, de Peysac like the eight girls before him would be picked clean by the boars. The woman Valjean decided was teetering on the verge of madness. But the reason still eluded him.

As a young woman she had been beaten and raped, but she had turned her life around and became a rich and successful woman, so why this? why now? it made no sense at all.

Valjean crept closer, they were stood on the opposite side of the boar pen. Bruno’s cousin, or so Valjean assumed was goading the boars with a stick trying to get them aroused. Bruno had lifted de Peysac on to the top of the logs that comprised their enclosure, de Peysac’s face was bloody where he had been beaten, his hands were tied behind his back and his ankles were tied together.

Valjean decided that it was time to intervene, before more harm came to de Peysac. He kept in the shadows and crept furtively around to the other side of the pen. He could see them but they could not see him.

‘Bruno, lift Monsieur de Peysac down carefully and place him on the floor, or I will put a bullet between your eyes, and have no doubts I will enjoy killing you.’ stated Vajean menacingly.

‘I don’t think that will be necessary, Bruno, the Inspector is going to hand me his weapon’; the words were accompanied by a prod in the back that could only come from a gun. Valjean realised too late that he had made a grave error of judgement in discounting the third car.

The voice of the man behind him sounded familiar, Valjean knew he had heard it before. ‘Your Commissioner was right Valjean, you are a very clever detective. In this instance a little too clever for your own good, the boars will eat well tonight, they will enjoy you!’

(C) Damian Grange 2021

Air Aces of World War One

Oberleutnant Max Immelmann – German Ace – 1890 / 1916

Max Immelmann was born on the 21st of September 1890, in Dresden, to a Industrialist father who died when Max was young. In 1905 he was enrolled in the Dresden Cadet School. He joined the Eisenbahnregiment ( Railway Regiment ) in 1911 as an ensign, in pursuit of a commission. He left the army in 1912 to study mechanical engineering in Dresden. He returned to service on the outbreak of war, as a reserve officer candidate. He was assigned to Eisenbahnregiment Nr.1, but soon transferred to aviation.

When World War One started, Immelmann was called to active service, he transferred to the German Army’s Air Arm Die Fliegertruppe des Deutschen Kaiserreiches later known as the Luftstreitkrafte and was sent for pilot training to Johannisthal Air Field. In November 1914, He was initially stationed in Northern France. Immelmann served as a pilot with Feldflieger Abtielung Nr. 10 ( Field Flier Detachment 10 ) from February to April 1915, and then in FFA 62 by early May 1915.On several occasions he engaged in combat whilst flying the LVG two – seaters with which his unit was equipped, but never with any success. On the 3rd of June 1915, he was shot down by a French pilot, but managed to land safely behind the German lines. Immelmann was decorated with the Iron Cross Second Class for preserving his aircraft.

Two very early examples of the Fokker Eindecker fighters were delivered to his unit. One Fokker M5 / Mg Production Prototype numbered E.3 /15 for Oswald Boelcke’s use, with Immelmann receiving later in July E.13 /15 as a production Fokker E,1 for his own use before the end of July. It was with this E.13 /15 aircraft, armed with the synchronised IMG 08 Spandau machine gun, that he gained his first confirmed air victory of the war on the 1st of August 1915. a fortnight after Leutnant Kurt Wintgens on the 15th of July 1915 obtained the very first confirmed German air victory with his own Fokker M5/ MG Production Prototype E.5 /15 Eindecker, one of only 5 built, following two unconfirmed victories on the 1st and 4th of July. All before Immelmann.

‘Like a hawk, I dived……and fired my machine gun. For a moment I believed I would fly right into him. I had fired ab out 60 rounds when my gun jammed. That was awkward, for to clear the jam, I needed both hands – I had to fly completely without hands.’ Lieutenant William Reid fought back valiantly, flying with his left hand and firing a pistol with his right. Nonetheless the 450 bullets fired at him took their effect. Reid suffered four wounds in his left arm, and his aircraft’s engine quit causing him to crash land. The unarmed Immelmann landed nearby and approached Reid, they shook hands and Immelmann said to the British pilot, ‘You are my prisoner,’ then pulled Reid free of the wreckage and rendered first aid.

Immelmann became one of the first German fighter pilots, quickly building an impressive score of air victories. During September three more victories followed, and then in October he became solely responsible for the air defence of the city of Lille. Immelmann became known as the Eagle of Lille ( Der Adler von Lille ) Immelmann flirted with the position of becoming Germany’s leading ace, trading that spot off with Oswald Boelcke, another pioneer ace. Having come second to Boelcke in gaining his sixth victory, he was second to be awarded the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern for this feat. On the 15th of December, Immelmann shot down his seventh British aircraft and moved into an unchallenged lead to become Germany’s leading ace. Immelmann was the first pilot to be awarded The Pour le Merite, Germany’s highest Military honour, receiving it on the day of his eighth victory, the 12th of January 1916. The medal became unofficially known as the Blue Max, in honour of Immelmann. His medal was presented by Kaiser Wilhelm 11, Oswald Boelcke was presented with his medal at the same time.

Boelcke scored again two days later, Immelmann would chase him in the ace race for the next four months, finally drawing even on the 13th of March with 11 each, he lost the lead on the 19th then re-gaining it on Easter Sunday, his 14 to Boelcke’s 13, losing it again forever on the 1st of May. It was around this time, the 25th of April to be exact, That Immelmann received a salutary lesson in the improvement of British aircraft. As the German ace described his attack on two D.H.2’s, ‘The two worked splendidly together….. and put 11 shots into my machine. The petrol tank, the struts on the fuselage, the undercarriage and the propellor were hit….It was not a nice business.’ On the 31st of May, Immelmann, Max von Mulzer and another German pilot attacked a formation of seven British aircraft. Immelmann was flying a two – gun Fokker E.IV, and when he opened fire, the synchronising gear malfunctioned. A stream of bullets cut off the tip of a propeller blade: The thrashing of the unbalanced airscrew nearly shook the aircraft’s twin-row Oberursel U.III engine loose from its mounts before he could cut the ignition and glide to a dead-stick landing.

In the late afternoon of the 18th of June 1916, Immelmann led a flight of four Fokker E.III Eindecker’s in search of a flight of eight FE2d fighter / reconnaissance aircraft of No,25 Squadron RFC over Sallaumines in Northern France. The British flight had just crossed the lines near Arras, with the intention of photographing the German infantry and artillery positions within the area, when Immelmann’s flight intercepted them. After a long running fight, scattering the participants over an area of some thirty square miles, Immelmann bought down one of the aircraft., wounding both the pilot and observer. This was his 16th victory claim, although it was to go unconfirmed. At 21:45 that same evening, Immelmann in Fokker E.III, serial 246 /16 encountered No,25 Squadron again, this time near the village of Lens. He immediately got of a burst which hit RFC Lieutenant J.R.B. Savage, pilot of FE2b pusher serial 4909, mortally wounding him, this was Immelmann’s seventeenth victory claim, though Max von Mulzer was later credited with the victory. The second aircraft he closed on was piloted by Second Lieutenant G.R. McCubbin with Corporal J.H.Waller as Gunner / Observer, and was credited with shooting Immelmann down. On the German side many had seen Immelmann as invincible and could not conceive the notion that he had fallen to enemy fire. Meanwhile the British authorities awarded McCubbin the Distinguished Service Order and for Waller the Distinguished Service Medal and promotion to Sergeant.

The German Air Service at the time claimed the loss was due to friendly fire ( German anti – aircraft fire) Other’s including Immelmann’s brother his aircrafts gun synchronisation had malfunctioned with disastrous results. This was not unreasonable, as earlier versions of the Synchronising mechanism had often malfunctioned, this had already happened to Immelmann on two previous occasions, whilst testing two and three gun installations, although on each occasion he had managed to land safely. McCubbin in a post war interview claimed, that after Immelmann had shot down his Squadron mate, the German ace began an Immelmann turn, McCubbin and Waller swooped down from a greater altitude and opened fire, and the German ace fell out of the sky, Waller also pointed out that the British bullets could have damaged Immelmann’s propeller. Immelmann scored all of his 15 victories flying The Fokker Eindecker and along with Max von Mulzer he was the leading exponent of this type.

(C) Damian Grange 2021