The Ninth Victim – Excerpt 25

Valjean kept well behind their car, He didn’t want to make it too obvious that they were being followed. He had no wish to panic them into making a rash move.

There were lights behind him, but he ignored them, he was certain it was just coincidence. But every time he turned a corner, the car followed behind him, Why? Valjean was starting to feel uneasy, he had thought that he had all the participants covered. Had he missed someone, but who else was there?

Was he overthinking things and it was just someone using the same road, He decided to pull over and let the following car overtake him. As the car overtook him, he noticed that there was only the driver. Maybe his fears were for nothing, but in this type of situation, caution is the bye word.

He increased his speed slightly, the following car had distracted him momentarily and he had no wish to lose the car that he was following De Peysac’s very survival may depend on it.

He was glad that he had thought to arm himself, it was three to one, he discounted de Peysac on the basis that he was probably already immobilised. Valjean was not fond of guns but in situations like this, they made a great equaliser.

The car he was following slowed and took a right turn, down what appeared to Valjean’s eyes a farm track, rough and muddy. They must be approaching their destination. Valjean stopped his car, he had decided to approach on foot it was a safer and stealthier method. The moments he would lose would allow the perpetrators to further incriminate themselves.

He rounded a bend into what appeared to be the farmyard, The empty car was parked there. He wondered where they had taken de Peysac. Then he heard a groan and headed in that general direction. In the moonlight he saw them, de Peysac was naked and bloody, he appeared to have put up a struggle but he was no match for Bruno and his cousin.

(C) Damian Grange 2021

Air Aces of World War One

Oberleutnant Erich Loewenhardt – German Ace – 1897 / 1918

Erich Loewenhardt was born in Breslau, Silesia a part of the German Empire on the 7th of April 1897, the son of a doctor. He received his education at a military school in Lichterfelde,. He was 17 years old when the First World War started in August 1914 and was assigned to the German Army’s Infantry Regiment Nr.141; he saw infantry action on the Eastern Front with them. Young Loewenhardt was wounded near Lodz, but remained on duty as Standard-Bearer for his regiment as it fought in the Battle of Tannenberg. As a reward for his courage, on the 2nd of October 1914, he was commisioned. On the 30th of October, he was both wounded and decorated with the Tron Cross Second Class. After convalescing he returned to his unit in the Carpathians. In May 1915, he received the Iron Cross First Class for saving the lives of five wounded men. Loewenhardt then transferred to the Alpine Corps serving on the Italian Front. However he fell ill and was invalided from service as unfit for duty.

After five months of recuperation, Loewenhardt volunteered for the Imperial German Army Air Service and qualified as an aerial observer. He then completed pilot training in 1916.Service in two-seater reconnaissance aircraft with Flieger – Abtielung ( Artillery ) ( Flier Detachment ( Artillery )) 265 followed. In early 1917 he underwent conversion training for fighters, he joined a fighter squadron equipped with Albatros fighters, Jagdstaffel 10, in March 1917. Jagdstaffel 10 was one of the four squadrons incorporated into Germany’s newly formed first fighter wing, which was commanded by the Red Baron, Manfred von Richtofen. On the 24th of March 1917, Loewenhardt scored his first confirmed aerial victory, by destroying an enemy observation balloon over Recicourt.

On the 30th of July 1917, scapegoat teenage ace, Werner Voss transferred into Jagdstaffel 10 as its new Staffelfuhrer (Commanding Officer) Following Voss’ deadly tutelage, Loewenhardt became an aggressive skilled fighter whose score grew steadily as he flew Albatros and Pfalz aircraft. He survived a forced landing on the 20th of September with a minor wound, the following day he shot down his fifth victim.

He posted two more claims in October, one of which was confirmed. On the 6th of November, his aircraft’s lower wing was damaged during combat over Winkel Saint Eloi at 08:30 hrs, a dud anti-aircraft shell smashing his left wingtip without exploding. Loewenhardt pulled his aircraft out of the resulting spin at 15 metres altitude, wheels down and bounced into a tumbling wreck. He exited the wreckage, shaken but otherwise. On the 30th of November 1917, he closed out his year with his eighth confirmed victory. He was credited with four balloons and four aircraft.

Loewenhardt scored two more victories in January 1918, a balloon and a Bristol F2 Fighter. In March he added five more. on the 1st of April 1918, just before his 21st birthday, he was appointed Commander of Jagdstaffel 10, The next month Jasta 10 re-equipped with the new Fokker D.VII’s. Loewenhardt continued to score, on the 10th of May, he destroyed a observation balloon for his 20th victory and became eligible for the Pour le Merite. The next day he was awarded the Knights Cross with Swords of the House Order of Hohenzollern, he also received the Austro – Hungarian Empire’s Military Merit Cross, The Pour le Merite (Blue Max) came on the 31st of May 1918, by which time his tally had risen to 24 victories.

By now, Loewenhardt was locked in an ‘Ace Race’ with Ernst Udet and Lothar von Richtofen for the honour of being the top scoring ace of their fighter wing. The rivalry between Loewenhardt and the younger Richtofen was a friendly one, as they often flew as wingmen. Jasta 10 belonged to the Flying Circus, When the Wing Commander’s job spot came open on the 29th of June 1918, Oberleutnant Loewenhardt was tapped for temporary command of it. By then, his tally stood at 27. When he surrendered the command on the 6th of July, it had risen to 34. By the end of July his total had risen to 48; 9 balloons and 39 aircraft.

On the 8th of August 1918, the Allied Forces launched the war’s final offensive against the German forces. Thr British Royal Air Force led the assault, and Loewenhardt downed three of their aircraft, on the 9th he shot down two more. On the 10th, despite a badly sprained ankle, Loewenhardt launched his yellow painted Fokker D.VII on a mid-day sortie leading a patrol heavily weighted with rookie pilots. He encountered No.56 Squadron R.A.F. and shot down a Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5a over Chaulnes, France at 12;15 hours for his 54th victory. In the aftermath of this combat, he collided with another German pilot, Leutnant Alfred Wenz from Jasta 11. Loewenhardt’s Fokker’s landing gear slammed the upper right wing on Wenz’s D,VII. Both of the pilot’s aircraft were equipped with parachutes, both pilot’s bailed out. Erich Loewenhardts ‘chute failed to open and he fell to his death. Loewenhardt;s final score was 54, $5 Aircraft and 9 Balloons. Loewenhardt was the third highest scoring German after Manfred von Richtofen and Ernst Udet, he was aged 21 at his demise.

(C) Damian Grange 2021

The Ninth Victim – Except 24

Valjean decided that his first concern was to get de Peysac to a place of safety. Now that all the players were in place, the action would soon begin. With this thought in mind he drove over to de Peysac’s residence, as an extra precaution he had taken his automatic pistol from the concealed section at the bottom of his suitcase and placed it in his pocket within easy reach. Valjean was not a lover of guns, but admitted that at times they had their uses.

As he neared de Peysac’s, he saw the woman’s car approaching on the opposite side of the road. There appeared to be several occupants, maybe he had arrived too late to warn de Peysac. Valjean waited until the woman’s car rounded a bend, then took a swift ‘u’ turn and followed in pursuit. This might be his only opportunity to save de Peysac from whatever they had planned for him.

He hung back, though keeping then in sight, he did not want to make it obvious that he was pursuing them. He wanted to do nothing to further endanger de Peysac’s life. He had no idea as to exactly who was in the other car, h guessed that the woman was driving with Bruno’s cousin beside her and Bruno and de Peysac in the rear. Had he planned it that’s the way it would be, leave Bruno in the back to intimidate de Peysac.

Their destination was a mystery, although Valjean had a hunch that it would be the cousin’s boar farm, how better to dispose of de Peysac’s remains once they had taken their revenge. Valjean had only one concern, this was all going too well. He was sure that they hadn’t planned for his intervention, but that thought in itself bothered him. They had been successfully kidnapping and murdering girls for the past ten years undetected.

Why should things suddenly change? Was it de Peysac’s success that had precipitated them to make this rash move, or had she grown weary of toying with him? It all made perfect sense, but why now? there must surely be a reason. Was this some sort of bizarre anniversary. or had Bruno forced her hand. They were not even considered as suspects by the local police, It made no sense at all.

(C) Damian Grange 2021

Air Aces of World War One

Captain Philip Fletcher Fullard – English Ace – 1897 / 1984

Fullard was born in Wimbledon, Surrey, the son of Thomas Fletcher Fullard. He was educated at Norwich Grammar School, where he was an accomplished sportsman, captaining the school’s hockey and football teams. Fullard joined the Inns of Court Training Corps in 1915, and after receiving high marks in his examination he was offered a commission in the Royal Irish Fusiliers, but was then selected for the Royal Flying Corps. He was commissioned as a probationary temporary second lieutenant with the RFC on the 5th of August 1916. He trained at the No.2 School of Military Avionics at Oxford, with No. 3/24 Reserve Squadron, and at the Central Flying School at Upavon, and on the 26th of December was appointed a flying officer and conformed in his rank as a second lieutenant on the General List. Fullard soloed after only three hours of flying time, and on account of his exceptional flying ability, he was retained at Upavon as an instructor, but was eventually sent to serve in France with No.1 Squadron RFC in May 1917.

Flying various models of Nieuport Scout throughout his combat career, Fullard scored steadily over the next six months. He opened his victory log with two victories in May, followed by five in June. On the 19th of June, whilst still only a second lieutenant, he was appointed a flight commander with the temporary rank of captain. In this role, he scored more victories with eight in July and a further twelve in August. He damaged the blood vessels in one eye while flying in September, resulting in temporary blindness that grounded him for most of that month. Fullard was awarded the Military Cross and Bar in September 1917; both awards were announced in the same issue of the London Gazette. Fullard recovered to score eleven more victories in October, and two in November, including the German eight victory ace Leutnant Hans Hoyer. Fullard was also awarded the Distinguished Service Order. Two days after his fortieth victory he suffered a compound fracture of the leg during a soccer match between his Squadron and an infantry battalion. He did not return to duty until near the end of the war, when on the 24th of September 1918 he was promoted to acting major.

During his period of active service, Fullard once bought down four German aircraft in a single day. and he and another pilot bought down seven enemy aircraft before breakfast, with Fullard accounting for three of them. Also, during the time that Fullard spent as flight commander, a period of three months, His flight of six pilots bought down more enemy aircraft than any other Squadron in France without suffering a single casualty. In one combat Fullard’s flying goggles were shot away from his eyes and some Verey lights in his cockpit ignited, setting his aircraft partially on fire, but despite this he still managed to fly back to the safety of the British Lines. A curious fact is that he scored all of his victories flying a Variety of Nieuport Scouts, initially the 17, then the 23 and finally the 27. Fullard was one of the most successful and consistent pilots of this make of aircraft.

(C) Damian Grange 2021

The Ninth Victim – Excerpt 23

Valjean placed the newly delivered file on the desk alongside the ones already there, he began to scrutinise them carefully. One thought struck him immediately, although there were differences in ages, from mid teens to early twenties they all had more than a passing similarity to each other.

They were all brunettes, all had shoulder length hair and brown eyes, none of which was unusual for this area. He carefully examined each photograph in turn, then smiled and returned to the first one, de Peysac’s only proven victim.

It had all suddenly fell into place, he stared intently at the photograph now he realised why he had thought that he had met Marie Deschamps before, you can change the hair colour and the make up but the shape of the face remains the same. The Deschamps woman was a part of the plot to discredit de Peysac.

But, there had to be others involved, he didn’t see her as the killer. Maybe Bruno, who was her creature, but what of Raoul Dupin, what was his involvement with her. Maybe it would all come together when her received Fouchet’s report.

The following morning at just past eleven a.m. Fouchet called with his findings, Valjean knew that by the excitement in his voice he had discovered something of relevance to their case.

‘Tell me, Fouchet, what have you discovered?’

‘I have spoken to the ex-husband of Marie Deschamps, and guess who she turned out to be?’

‘The girl that was beaten and raped by Pierre Dubois.’ stated Valjean.

‘But if you knew that, why send me to Paris?’

‘It was just a hunch, I had to be certain and now it all begins to make sense. de Peysac is all set to become the ninth victim, I’ve suspected it for sometime.’

‘I have some other information?’ said Fouchet, ‘Bruno is her cousin, that should finalise our case.’

‘Thank you, Fouchet, everything has fallen nicely into place, now all we have to do is bait the trap!’

(C) Damian Grange 2021

Air Aces of World War One

Leutnant Heinrich Gontermann – German Ace – 1896 / 1917

Born in Siegen, Southern Westphalia on the 25th of February 1896. Gontermann grew into a tall, slender man, full of vitality. He abstained from smoking and was only a social drinker. He was a patriotic religious introvert. His Father, a cavalry officer, steered him towards a career in the military. After leaving school, Heinrich enlisted into the 6th Uhlan Cavalry Regiment in Hanau on the 14th of August 1914. Only days after arriving at his regiment, Gontermann was sent in to action. Gontermann had a reputation for being aloof, but during his time with the Uhlan’s he displayed fine leadership qualities. He was slightly wounded in September 1914, and was promoted to Feldwebel. Early in the spring of 1915, he was given a field commission to Leutnant and also awarded the Iron Cross Second Class. While he continued to lead his men through 1915, Gontermann applied for a transfer to the newly formed German Army Air Service, but in October 1915, he was transferred to the 80th Fusilier Regiment.

Gontermann was finally accepted for pilot /observer training, and upon his graduation in early 1916 was posted to Kampfstaffel Tergnier as a reconnaissance pilot flying the Roland C.II. Later that spring, he was posted to Field – Abtielung 25, where he flew both as pilot and observer on Ago C.I’s. Gontermann applied for aviation training at Jastaschule and a transfer to a fighter unit. He was accepted and on the 11th of November 1916 joined Jasta 5. Three days later, whilst on his first combat sortie, he shot down his first aircraft an F.E.2b on patrol over Morval. There was a lull in his scoring until the 7th of March 1917, when Gontermann shot down an F.E2d of No.57 Squadron R.F.C. the day after being awarded the Iron Cross First Class. he then scored regularly until March becoming an ace on the 24th by downing a Sopwith 11/2 Strutter, he added a second one the following day. It was after this victory, that he wrote home, ‘Today I shot down a two – seater…….He broke up into dust in the air…… is a horrible job, but one must do one’s duty.’

During Bloody April, 1917, Gontermann scored 12 victories. On the 8th he achieved his first successes as a balloon buster, with all of its extraordinary hazards, by downing an observation balloon. He shot down 4 others within the month, including a double -victory on the 16th. On the 26th of April 1917, he bought his victory total to 17, Gontermann was also promoted to Staffelfuhrer of the Prussian Jagdstaffel 15, four days later. He replaced Max Reinhold who was killed in action.

Gontermann’s personal reputation was of an aloof man with few friends. Professionally. he was a student of enemy aircraft types, with a special knack of picking off his foes from point-blank range within their blind spots. He was considered to be the premier marksman of his unit, as well as being a skilled aerobaticist. Udet wrote of Gontermann ‘Before he opens fire, he defeats his enemy by outflying him. When he finally fires, he requires. at most. a dozen rounds to tear apart the other’s machine.’ Gontermann was noted as nervous, stressed and sleeping badly. Such was the strain of combat that he was sent on a month’s leave during May to recuperate.

On the 6th of May 1917, Gontermann was awarded the Knights Cross with Swords of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern. He scored his 19th triumph, over five- victory ace, Didier Lecour Grandmaison on the 10th of May 1917. Heinrich Gontermann received Bavaria’s Military Order of Max Joseph on the 11th of May, The Pour le Merite, followed on the 17th. Gontermann was granted four weeks leave in May / June 1917 upon receipt of the Blue Max. Upon Gontermann’s return to the Jasta on the 19th of June, he found that acting Staffelfuhrer Ernst Udet had requested a transfer. Under Udet’s leadership the Jasta had suffered three demoralizing losses. For the remainder of June, Gontermann again targeted observation balloons, downing one on both the 24th and 27th. He also scored two victories in July, one of which was a balloon.

August was a productive month for Gontermann. After shooting down a Nieuport on the 5th, he shot down two balloons both on the 9th and the 17th. On the 19th of August, was the peak of Gontermann’s career. He shot down a SPAD in the morning, later at 19.23 hrs, he took out an observation balloon south of Aisne Tal; three others were destroyed in as many minutes. The downing of the balloons bought his score to 35. In September Gontermann shot down three more enemy aircraft, by October 1917 Gontermann had become a celebrated ace with 39 victories, he was credited with defeating 21 enemy aircraft and 18 balloons, plus one unconfirmed balloon shot down. He would rank eighth amongst the balloon busting aces of the war, only Friedrich Ritter von Roth outscored him amongst German fliers.

On the 29th of October 1917, Gontermann took off in a Fokker DR1, he had not fully recovered from a bout of dysentery. Nevertheless he was anxious to try his new aircraft, despite others misgivings about it. After a few minutes, he tried aerobatics at 700 metres altitude. He pulled out of his second loop and dived into a left turn. The upper wing collapsed and broke completely off. His aircraft plunged into the ground. Gontermann was pulled from the wreckage alive, though with severe head injuries after slamming in to the machine guns breeches. He was taken to the Jasta’s medical bay, where he died several hours later. Gontermann was only one of several German pilots to be killed testing the new DR1. As a result Fokker was accused of shabby construction and directed to change production methods for the manufacture of the aircraft.

(C) Damian Grange 2021

The Ninth Victim – Except 22

‘Fouchet! I have an idea, can you return to Paris and interview her ex-husband, see if you can discover what motivates her, he may just have the answers that we are seeking?’

‘This one as really gotten under your skin, do you really think she is involved?’

‘I don’t honestly know at this stage in the investigation, I just feel that there is more to her than meets the eye and I wish to know what it is?’

‘I’ll catch the late train and seek our her ex-husband in the morning, if there are any developments, I will contact you by ‘phone immediately. What do you plan to do in the meantime?’

‘I intend to go through the victims files again, no criticism of you but I still feel that the answer could lie amongst those reports, we have to be missing some sort of connection, something not so obvious?’

After Fouchet had left, Valjean once again assembled the files on his desk, in the order that the girls had been reported missing. Then a thought struck him, if they were trying to make de Peysac appear to be the perpetrator, then surely they would began with the girl that he had beaten and raped, the one crime they could prove he had committed.

So, for some reason they did not want to draw attention to her, Why? so far their planning had been meticulous in fabricating the case against de Peysac. So, why not include her, it made no sense to omit her.

Valjean rang Raoul Dupin, when the ‘phone was answered he said, ‘It’s Valjean, can you arrange foe an officer to bring me the file on the girl the de Peysac raped.’ ‘ I’ll get it sent round right away, although I would not have thought it was relevant?’

‘It proves that de Peysac is capable of the crimes of assault and rape, I would have thought that very relevant?’

‘So, have you solved the case, is he the perpetrator?’ Queried Dupin with more than a trace of elation.

‘Possibly, but I don’t have absolute truth as yet, but we are getting close.’

Valjean leaned back in his chair and scratched his head. Dupin seemed just a little too eager to convict what he was sure was an innocent man. He was still convinced he had much to learn about this case, maybe Fouchet’s information might help in some way

(C) Damian Grange 2021

Air Aces of World War One

Captain Lionel Henry Wilmot Brabazon Rees V.C. – British Ace – 1884 / 1955

Rees was born at 5,Castle Street, Caernarfon, on the 31st of July 1884, the son of Charles Herbert Rees, A solicitor and a honory Colonel in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and his wife Leonora. Rees attended Eastbourne College before entering the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich in 1902. He was commissioned on the 23rd of December 1903 into the Royal Garrison Artillery and was posted to Gibraltar. He was promoted to Lieutenant in 1906, he moved to Sierra Leone in 1908 and in May 1913 was seconded to the Southern Nigerian Regiment.

Rees was commissioned as an officer in the Royal Garrison Artillery, a branch of the Royal Regiment of Artillery in 1912. Rees like many others learned to fly at his own expense, receiving his Aviator’s Certificate No.392 in January 1913.By 1913-1914, Rees was attached to the West African Frontier Force when he was seconded to the Royal Flying Corps in August 1914, initially as an instructor at Upavon. He was promoted to Captain in October 1914. In early 1915 he took command of the newly formed No.11 Squadron at Netheravon and in July they moved to France. His first action came flying the Vickers Gunbus with No.11 Squadron in mid 1915, he soon earned a reputation as an aggressive pilot and an above average marksman.

Rees was awarded the Military Cross for his actions in 1915, gazetted as follows: For conspicuous gallantry and skill on several occasions notably the following: On the 21st of September 1915, when flying an aircraft with one machine gun, accompanied by Flight Sergeant Hargreaves, he sighted a large German biplane with two machine guns 2,000 ft below him. He spiralled down and dived at the enemy, who, having the faster machine, managed to get him broadside on and then opened heavy fire. Despite this, Rees pressed home his attack and apparently succeeded in hitting the enemy’s engine, for the machine made a quick turn, glided some distance and finally fell just inside the German lines near Herbecourt. On the 28th of July, he attacked and drove down an enemy monoplane despite the main spar of his machine being shot through and the rear spar shattered. On the 31st of August, again accompanied by Flight Sergeant Hargreaves, He fought a German machine more powerful than his own for three quarters of an hour, then returned for more ammunition and went out to the attack again, finally bringing the enemy’s machine down, apparently wrecked. By this time he had claimed one aircraft captured, one destroyed, one ‘forced to land’ and five ‘driven down.’ Rees returned to England at the end of 1915, where he took command of the Central Flying School at Upavon. In June 1916 he took No.32 Squadron to France.

Rees was 31years old and on detached service from the Royal Garrison Artillery to the Royal Flying Corps on Flying Duties as a temporary Major in No. 32 Squadron when the following deed took place which earned him the Victoria Cross. In the first hours of the Somme Offensive, Rees was on patrol, taking off in Airco DH.2 No. 6015 at 5.55 hrs. His attempt to join a formation of ‘British Machines’ brought an attack from one of the Germans. He shot up his attacker, hitting its fuselage between the two aircrew. As it dived away, Rees attacked a Roland. Long range fire from three other Germans did not discourage Rees from closing on it; it emitted a hazy cloud of smoke from its engine from the 30 rounds Rees had fired into it and it fled. Rees then single – handedly went after five more Germans. A bullet in the thigh paralysed his leg, forcing him to temporarily break off the assault. As the shock of the wound wore off, he was able to pursue the German formation leader, which was leaving after dropping its bomb. He fired his Lewis gun until it was empty. In frustration, he drew his pistol but dropped it into the D.H,2’s nacelle. Meantime, the German two-seater pulled above and away from him. The German formation was shattered and scattered Rees gave up the futile chase, and returned to base. Once landed he calmly asked for steps so that he could deplane. Once seated on the Aerodrome grass, he had a tender fetched to transport him to the hospital.

The valour of his actions earned him the Victoria Cross, Its citation reads; On the 1st of July 1916 at Double Crassieurs, France, Major Rees, whilst on flying duties, sighted what he thought was a bombing party of our machines returning home, but were in fact enemy aircraft. Major Rees was attacked by one of them, but after a short encounter it disappeared, damaged. The others then attacked him at long range, but he dispersed them, seriously damaging two of the machines. He chased two others but was wounded in the thigh, temporarily losing control of his aircraft. He righted it and closed with the enemy, using up all of his ammunition, firing at very close range. He then returned home, landing his aircraft safely. He convalesced for a while due to his injuries from the 1st of July action, and went on a War Office mission to the United States, becoming a temporary Lieutenant Colonel in May 1917. For the remainder of hostilities Rees commanded a School of Aerial Fighting at R.A.F. Turnberry.

(C) Damian Grange 2021

The Ninth Victim – Excerpt 21

That evening, when he met for his daily briefing with Fouchet. Vajean still had the feeling that he had missed something, call it a Policeman’s instinct or whatever, but it was really beginning to annoy him.

‘Have you made any progress with your investigations into the victims?’ asked Valjean.

‘Not particularly, one of them was not as innocent as we were led to believe, she was having an affair with a married man. But before you ask, he’s not a suspect, he was serving abroad with the Army, all checked and substantiated. replied Fouchet.

‘So, nothing of any consequence to our investigation?’

‘I did pick up one little tidbit that may interest you, Bruno has a cousin locally who breeds boars, the domestic ones of course but their diets are then same. By the way, have you made the acquaintance of the lovely Bruno yet?’

‘Yes, we have met, I left him with a bruised ego and a bloody nose, next time we cross paths he may just remember his manners,’ stated Valjean smiling.

‘Be careful, given the opportunity he’s the type that would stab you in the back.’ warned Fouchet.

‘But, I proved one thing, if the inducement was to his advantage, he would kill!’

‘He appears to be the woman’s creature, do you think she is the one pulling the strings or are they both being controlled by some unknown third person?’ queried Fouchet.

‘I have to admit that something about the woman is bothering me, now that we have met even more so. I have this feeling that I know her, but I can’t remember where from and its really starting to annoy me.’

(C) Damian Grange 2021

Air Aces of World War One

Adjutant Paul Tarascon – French Ace – 1882 / 1977

Paul Albert Pierre Tarascom was born in Le Thor, France on the 8th of December 1882. Tarascon joined the French Military in 1901; upon his release from active duty, he was assigned to the 4e Regiment d’Infanterie Coloniale. He became interested in Aviation upon his release, and decided to learn to fly. In 1911, whilst learning to fly, he crashed his aircraft so badly that his right foot had to be amputated. This would spark his later nickname, I’as la jambe de bois ( the ace with the wooden leg )

Despite his handicap, when World War ! began, he volunteered as an aviator and was accepted. On completion of Military training he received Military Pilot’s Brevet No. 1741 on the 4th of December 1914, and became an instructor in January 1915. He requested a combat assignment, and was sent to Escadrille 31 on the 6th of October 1915, to Ecscadrille3 on the 1st of May !916 and shortly after to Escadrille 62.

Flying a Nieuport fighter he scored his first victory on the 15th of July 1916. By the 17th of November he had run up his score of victories to eight whilst flying Nieuports. Before he resumed scoring on the 6th of April 1917, he had changed aircraft and was now flying a SPAD. He scored twice more in mid 1917, then one final time on the 15th of July 1918. Tarascon’s emblem of the fighting cock was adopted by his unit.

Tarascon’s motto ‘Zigomar’ was apparently based on a character in a French mystery story. He was a Criminal Mastermind. I would imagine something similar to Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘Moriarty’ in the Sherlock Holmes stories. An interesting choice.

Paul Tarascon was Awarded the Medaille Militaire on the 4th of August 1916, His citation reads, ‘Adjutant Pilot of Escadrille N.62 Excellent pilot, always prepared to work. Although one leg has been amputated, he entered aviation and has carried out numerous reconnaissance’s over long distances and has had 15 aerial combats. On the 15th of July 1916 he downed an Aviatik de Chasse, which fell in flames in enemy territory.’ He was made a Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur citation of 15th of November 1916, reads, ‘Adjutant pilot of Escadrille N.62. Remarkable pilot by his devotion, skill, coolness and initiative. He has distinguished himself for over a year, during the course of numerous reconnaissance’s, protections and pursuits. On the 9th of August 1916, his plane was hit over 100 times by enemy bullets. Since the 1st of July, he has had 35 combats, downing five enemy planes and has forced two others to land in a damaged condition.’ Tarascon was also awarded the Croix de Guerre with Twelve Palmes. He had twelve conformed victories and ten unconfirmed in World War One.

(C) Damian Grange 2021