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