Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 142 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 142 )

  I have no objection to serving penance, particularly if it hastens my redemption. I have no choice but to grin and bear it. It may be the solitude is to give me time to think and analyse my crimes, it might be the lord’s way of punishing me, to make me earn my redemption.

If this is what it takes, I happily accept it, after all, my mission here was to give comfort to the sick and wounded, I swore an oath to do no less and if doing so expedites my redemption, then I will set to with renewed vigour.

I admit to missing my family and friends, after all they are half the world away, but of this I am certain, nothing changes, their friendship awaits. I have for all my life been something of a loner, but I truly miss the bond of friendship that I shared with Fred and Lizzie Abberline, and of course my sibling, Giles.

I was sat alone, wallowing in despond, when an orderly came to my office and handed me a letter, ‘ For you, Doctor, from the War Office?’ the moment he left, I opened it with trembling hands, what could this possibly be?

I read the letter, then I could have stood up and cheered, There were two Doctors who were currently en route to South Africa, to relieve Arthur and myself. If, they arrived in time, I would be returning to England with Arthur or just shortly thereafter. Maybe there is a God after all.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

The Castle Karlstadt – Excerpt 14

The Castle Karlstadt – Excerpt 14

  ‘May I ask a personal question, Father?’ I asked, ‘Are you in some way, trying to prove her innocence in this affair.’ ‘I wonder, why do you ask that?’ he replied somewhat cautiously. ‘I may be a soldier , but I am also a man, you spoke of her fondly.’ I replied, ‘For a man of the cloth, it seemed a little out of character, if I may say so.

He looked around a little furtively, then once he was certain there was no one eavesdropping he said, ‘Can I trust you to keep a secret, a thing of importance.’ ‘You have my word of honour, as an Officer and a gentleman,’ I stated with some conviction, as I liked and trusted the Father.

The Countess Karlstadt was my sibling and I failed her, that is why I am here, I need to find out the truth of what happened here, who is the guilty and who is not, I owe that much to her memory.’ ‘ Is there something that you are aware of that I am not?’

‘My nephew Anders, who I never knew, was apparently a handsome young man who was very popular with the local girls. I get the impression that he was probably a bit of a libertine, but that do’s not make a reason for killing both him and his Mother, impaling them with stakes and then burning their bodies.’

‘I have no proof , but I believe there is something behind this, something evil, but I don’t  understand what there is to gain, there must be something, I just don’t know what it is?’ ‘I believe you Michael, your secret is safe in my hands,’ I assured him, ‘But if you find anything that might explain things while we are here, please keep me informed, I am intrigued by it all!’

(C) Damian Grange 2019


This Bulldog Bites – Excerpt 1

This Bulldog Bites – 


  The tale that I am about to relate, was told to me many years ago, while I was on holiday in Majorca. Several versions of the same story were related to me by people who had been guests at the hotel the previous week before my arrival. On this basis and this alone, I believe the tale will make an entertaining diversion. Due to the nature of the tale, I thought it prudent to change the names of the protagonists, but not of the events that took place at the time.

Ivy Danvers began her life as plain Ivy Smith, her Father worked as a porter at Smithfield Market, her Mother took in washing. The family were not affluent but Ivy and her younger siblings were well fed and content.

Like most working folk in the East end of London, her parents liked a drink and a good old knees up, the young Ivy loved this too, and could always be found performing outside the pub with her siblings in toe, whilst her parents were inside drinking.

Ivy was no great beauty, but what she lacked in looks she made up with personality and a naïve but cheeky charm. The years passed by and a slightly older and wiser Ivy landed a job in the chorus of a West End show. A far cry from her debut performance outside the Dog and Duck in the East End.

It didn’t take Ivy long to build a circle of friends among the other girls in the chorus, many of them were from backgrounds not so dissimilar to her own. Daphne, one of her close friends, asked Ivy if she would mind going out on a date with her, her Beau was an officer in the Guards, and he had a friend who had shown more than a passing interest in the lovely Ivy.

(C) Damian Grange 2019




Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 141 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 141 )

  But for now, it was back to work for Arthur and I, we had lives to save and with the arrival of suitable medicines we may just succeed in doing so.

I had numerous patients to treat both British soldiers and Boers, but wondered how much longer my services would be needed here. My contract was for the duration of the conflict, but the conflict was almost over, other than a few Boer Bitter – Enders who refused to surrender, but sooner or later even they would see reason.

Don’t misunderstand me, I am content enough with my purpose here, I think the thought of Arthur leaving has given me a little home- sickness. Odd, as it may sound I rather miss the squalor of Whitechapel, but then I spent the most challenging years of my life there.

I miss the people’s cheerful attitude in the face of poverty, The Boers are a fine people but they have a rather dour attitude to life, but in all fairness they are colonists in a relatively new country, their lives can’t be easy, maybe I judge them too harshly.

I suspect that probably the real truth of the matter is that I am lonely, Arthur is the only real friend I have here, and when he returns to London as he will be doing shortly, I will be alone, unless another physician deigns to join me.

I have a duty to my patients, but I also have a duty to myself. I came here to tend the sick and wounded. I agree, I needed for a time to get away from Whitechapel. But it was never my intention to become an exile from my own country. I am happy to serve, but I don’t want to be stuck in this arid God forsaken country for ever.

Or is this the penance that I have to serve as redemption for my sins. If that be the case, I will keep my head down and keep doing the best I can for my patients, and hope that one day that will be enough to end my exile!

(C) Damian Grange 2019


Air Aces of World War One

berthold fok

Hauptmann Rudolf Berthold – Germany’s Iron Knight 1891/1920 Pt.8

  He returned to his new assignment two days in to the new German offensive, to find that the Infantry Divisions his wing were supposed to support were complaining about their lack of air cover. Jagdgescwader II’s performance improved under its grounded commander’s guidance as the Germans advanced 65 Kilometres in eight days. On the night of the 12th of April, French artillery directed by a reconnaissance aircraft began shelling the Jagdgescwader II airfield. By the following morning the airfield and its equipment had been hit over 200times by shell bursts. Although there were no casualties, damage was such that the wing was essentially out of action for the next three weeks, as it changed airfields and re-equipped. In the meantime Berthold fretted, “And I will fly again….even if they must carry me to the airplane.”

During this inactive stretch, Berthold outlined his intended use of the wing in a memo to Headquarters. He outlined an air defence warning net posted forward to alert his wing, and he pleaded for a transport column to maintain the units mobility. Aside from his memo, he planned personnel changes within his new wing. He felt that the squadron commanders were plotting to have him replaced. By the 18th of May the last of them had been replaced. The wing’s score improved for that month, with a total of 19 victories.

Berthold had often flown a Pfalz D.III in preference to the Albatros D.V. In May 1918 the new Fokker D.VII entered service. Berthold borrowed one of the new machines from JagdgescwaderI for a surreptitious test flight. He liked its lightness on the controls, remarking hopefully that he could fly it even with a damaged right arm. On the morning of the 28th of May 1918 Berthold flew a brand new Fokker DVII and for the first time led his air wing in to combat. Although it was a ground support mission, he took the opportunity to score his 29th victory. The following day he downed two more aircraft, despite a malfunctioning gun synchroniser that nearly shot away his own propeller and caused a crash landing. Berthold’s drug addiction didn’t appear to hamper him in the air. Georg Von Hantelmann, one of his pilots, noted that despite his undiminished martial skills, his morphine addiction made him temperamentally erratic, nevertheless his subordinates remained loyal to him. Berthold’s victory tally by half a dozen victories during the month of June.

Berthold fought on, scoring two more victories in July, he scored three more victories in early August raising his tally to 42. On the 10th of August he led 12 pilots in to battle against a vastly superior force of British aircraft. He shot down a British S.E.5a fighter for his 43rd victory and a D.H.9 bomber for his 44th. when he tried to pull away from the D.H.9 at 8oo metres his controls came loose in his hands, he tried to use his parachute but failed because it needed both hands. he crashed in to a house in Ablaincourt with such force that his engine ended up in the cellar. German infantry men plucked him from the rubble and rushed him to hospital. His right arm was re-broken at its previous fracture. He would never fly again! Rudolf Berthold had a tally of 44 victories, many of these whilst flying one- handed. He survived to see the end of the war, although still bed-ridden from his injuries. After the war, in 1919, Berthold formed a Freikorps in his native Franconia, he attracted 1200 men, mostly bound to him by personal loyalty. Initially formed to fight communist insurrectionists, whilst trying to keep order against striking workers in Hamburg against overwhelming odds, the mob overpowered and disarmed him, he was shot twice in the head and four times in the body and left in the gutter. An ignoble end for a great patriot.

(C) Damian Grange 2019





Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 140 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 140 )

  With the arrival of Miss Hobhouse everything changed. The camp seemed revitalised, the Boer women were happy because they had found both an ally and benefactor. The troops were happy because Miss Hobhouse had rendered the Commandant all but  impotent. They to a man despised him, but were forced to obey him.

As for Arthur and I, we were content, among her baggage Miss Hobhouse had bought a supply of the medicines that we so desperately needed. Now we could see our patient’s health improve, instead of praying that they survive.

Miss Emily Hobhouse did not stay for long, but the changes she bought about changed all of our lives for the better, and if only for that, I salute her!

When she left to return to London, she promised that she would see that more medicines were sent on the first available ship. She was appalled at the number of lives that had been lost, both among the Boer inmates and the British troops.

It is a little-Known fact that during the Boer war more troops died of illness and poor care than were killed or wounded in the conflict. With the correct medicines now made available to us, many of our bed-ridden would have a chance of survival.

And all of this was due to the crusading spirit of one very charitable lady, God bless her. On her return to London, her report on the conditions in South Africa almost bought down the Government of the time.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

The Castle Karlstadt – Excerpt 13

The Castle Karlstadt – Excerpt 13

  But we weren’t here to admire its somewhat faded beauty, we were here to endeavour to solve its mysteries. Namely was it a breeding site for the Vampire kind or just a slightly damaged castle.

On arriving at the castle, we selected one of the ground floor rooms to be our headquarters, it was quite a large room so I asked Bruno and the Doctor if they would mind collecting some wood and starting a fire, which we would need both for cooking and warmth.

I took Father Michael with me to reconnoitre as much of the castle as we could before darkness fell. I did not want anyone wandering around in the dark until we had checked for pitfalls. As elected leader I took concern in the well-being of my comrades.

The castle itself, dark and foreboding was an unknown quantity, I had no inclination of who? or what? we might find inside its walls. The only thing of any note, that the Father and I found, was on one of the walls in an adjacent room, a somewhat scorched portrait of a lady dressed all in black.

I asked Father Michael for his opinion of who the lady in the portrait might be, His opinion was that it was probably the Countess in her mourning clothes, painted shortly after the death of her husband, the Count.

I told The Father that I found it hard to believe that such a beautiful woman, could be as evil and reviled, as she obviously was. ‘I knew her you know,’ said the Father, ‘ As a young woman she had a kind and generous spirit, but that was before she became a Karlstadt!’

(C) Damian Grange 2019


Conor Dillon – Beginnings Excerpt 31

Conor Dillon – Beginnings  Excerpt 31

  ‘Once the volleys are fired, the enemy will be in confusion, they considered us as friends by the time they realise we are not, we should be amongst them clubbing them to the ground with out musket butts, if they run, which will likely happen, we take and hold the position until we are either reinforced or relieved.’ explained Conor.

‘What if they make a fight of it?’ asked Black Michael. ‘We’ll make them regret that decision, quite quickly, I would imagine,’ answered Conor grinning at his men. ‘What if they decide to surrender, what then?’ Queried Shamus. ‘Disarm them and truss them up so they are hors de combat and try to keep them out of harms way.’ Replied Conor.

Conor’s opportunity to put his plan in to action came sooner than expected. The Regiment was ordered to attack a fortified town, occupied by the Austrians. Several forays were made both by the Irish and the French, but all were repulsed by the Austrians who had fortified the town.

Conor and Black Michael did a reconnaissance of the town ands considered they had found a weak spot in the Austrians defences. Conor outlined his plan to his father and asked for permission to take his unit and try and break the stalemate.

His Father reviewed their plans and gave them his blessing, he asked if they needed any support. ‘It might help to have a company on standby, once we have fired two volleys, tell them to come running, there should be lots of prisoners to contend with.’ ‘You seem very confident, my boy! ‘Oh I am, Sir, I am.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 139 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 139 )

  Apparently, Arthur was only here until June, He had enlisted on a six-month volunteer contract. My own enlistment was until the end of hostilities, the way things were shaping we may be returning home together.

We were both eagerly awaiting the arrival of Miss Emily Hobhouse, from what we had heard of her, and what Arthur knew of her. Arthur was certain that her tour of inspection would alter the conditions of the Boer families for the better.

Whether the Commandant liked it or not, her way would prevail, she had the backing of many prominent politicians who sought to appease the Boer nation and avoid further conflict. Although the Boers knew nothing of her, rumours had spread around the camp of changes to come, they were eagerly awaiting to see if these changes would be for the better.

When Miss Hobhouse arrived she went directly to the Boer, issuing blankets, soap and foodstuffs. All of which her charity had funded and bought from London itself. She listened to the many complaints from the Boer womenfolk, nursed their babies, played with their children and within a couple of days had won the hearts and trust of all of them.

After she had achieved this, she came to the hospital to visit the sick and wounded. She was disgusted by the conditions that she found, due to lack of suitable medicines and food. With Arthur and I in toe, she stormed in to the Commandants Office and told him what a despicable specimen of humanity he was to deny food and the proper medical facilities to the people in his care. When she returned to London she would demand that he be immediately replaced, but until then she gave him a list of her immediate requirements. He was just about to protest, but she glared at him, he slumped back in his chair, a beaten man.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Air Aces of World War One

Hauptmann Rudolf Berthold – Germany’s Iron Knight 1891 / 1920 Pt 7

  The Courtrai Hospital lacked the facilities to deal with such a complex injury, however it sufficed to keep him alive. It was three weeks before the wounded Ace was stable  enough to be transferred. On the 31st of October he was shipped back to Germany. His pilots alerted his elder sister, Franziska who was a nursing sister in Victoria Lazarett ( Victoria Hospital ) Berlin. She arranged for her brothers transfer to the Berlin clinic of one of Germany’s pre-eminent surgeons, Dr. August Bier, pioneer of cocaine usage in spinal anaesthesia. Berthold entered the clinic on the 2nd of November 1917, he was there for four months and Dr.Bier laboured to save the mangled arm from amputation. Meantime, counter to Berthold’s wishes, Oberleutnant Ernst Wilhelm Turck assumed Berthold’s dual commands of Jagdstaffel 18 and Jagdgruppe 7. Berthold spent his convalescent leave learning to write with his left hand. He believed “If I can write, I can fly” meantime his right arm remained paralyzed as it slowly healed and he remained dependant on narcotics.

By February, Berthold could get out of bed. In mid-month, he volunteered to return to the command of Jagdgruppe 7. On the 1st of March he reported to the medical office of Flieger- Ersatz – Abtielung 5 ( Replacement Detachment 5 ) in Hanover. He was returned to command of Jagdstaffel 18but denied permission to fly. On the 6th of March 1918, he re-joined his old squadron at its new duty station. Within 2 days, on the 8th of March, he had arranged for Hans-Joachim Buddecke’s transfer to the squadron to lead it in the air.Two days later, Buddecke was killed in action.

On the 16th of March 1918, Rudolf Berthold was transferred to command  Jagdgeschwader II ( Fighter Wing 2 ) to replace Hauptmann Adolf Ritter von Tutschek, who was killed in action the previous day. The new wing had been copied from the pioneering Jagdgeschwader II. It was crucial to the German spring offensive that was due to be launched on the 21st of March. Berthold was in a tenuous and stressful situation. He had suffered the loss of a best friend, left his old familiar squadron, was taking command of a larger unfamiliar and newly-formed unit, and was not on flight status. His solution to his dilemma was to take advantage of a loophole. Customarily a Luftstreitkrafte commander being transferred could swap a small cadre of his old unit in to his newer one. Berthold designated Jagdstaffel 15 the wings Stab Staffel (Command Squadron). Then he effected a wholesale exchange of Jagdstaffel 18 Pilots and aircraft in to Jagdstaffel 15. Jagstaffel 15 Personnel and aircraft then transferred to Jagdstaffel 18. Berthold then departed for Buddecke’s funeral in Berlin on the 22nd of March.

To Be Continued………………..

(C) Damian Grange 2019