Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 132 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 132 )

  When we arrived at Concentration Camp No.1, The Sergeant in charge of the Mail wagon, the one I had conversed with most during the journey, suggested that before I reported to the Camp Commandant I might like to meet the Doctor in residence who it appeared was something of a  celebrity.

The Sergeant led me to one of the few brick buildings, the majority of the refugees / prisoners were living under canvas in an assortment of tents. I was led through what I assumed was the ward, to the Doctors office at the rear. The Sergeant knocked and entered, ‘I’ve bought your new colleague to meet you, so you can explain to him personally what a shithole he’s ended up in.’

The man behind the desk stood up and smiled, ‘Ignore the Sergeant, he loves it here really!’ I couldn’t place his accent, there was a trace of Scots but also the soft spoken tones of the Irish, I found it most perplexing.

‘Arthur Conan Doyle at your service, Doctor, may I say it is a great pleasure to have you here, it will be nice to have an ally in my struggles with authority, without putting too fine a point on it, The Commandant here is a callous swine who would like to see all of his inmates dead. We are his conscience, he despises me and he will you too for the same reason, we are devoted to saving lives.’

‘I’m delighted to meet you, Arthur, I’m Jack, and I volunteered to save lives, not play at politics, what is the real problem here?’

(C) Damian Grange 2019


Air Aces of World War One

Berthold and his Squadron Comrades

Picture – Courtesy of Pinterest

 Hauptmann Rudolf Berthold – Germany’s Iron Knight 1891 /1920 Pt4

  On the 25th of April 1916, Berthold made an emergency landing after enemy bullets crippled his Fokker’s engine. He took off again in a Pfalz EIV. He re-awakened two days later in Kriegslazaret 7 ( Military hospital 7 ) in Saint Quentin. Besides a badly broken left leg, Berthold had suffered a broken nose and upper jaw, with attendant damage to his optic nerves, he was prescribed narcotic painkillers for chronic pain. At that time, the German Military Doctors used three narcotics as painkillers – Opium, Morphine and Codeine. Doctors prescribed Cocaine to counteract the somnolence of these three depressant drugs. Berthold’s exact prescription is unknown.

Eventually, although Berthold’s eyesight returned, he was unable to fly for four months, but nevertheless retained command of KEK Vaux. Between the message traffic bought to him, and the accounts of visiting subordinates, he learned of ongoing casualties. His brother Wolfram, who was serving in the Infantry had been killed on the 29th of April . Max Immelmann perished in battle on the 18th of June. Following Immelmann’s demise, Oswald Boelcke, Germany’s highest scoring Ace was grounded for fear that if he were lost, it would be a disaster for German morale. Berthold was scheduled to be evacuated back to Germany. Instead in late July, he commandeered a car and returned to his unit. He may be unable to fly, but he could still command, He made his orderly help him bend his knee and flex strength back in to his withered leg.

On the 24th of august 1916, Berthold scored his sixth victory, even though he had to be helped in to his aircraft. The following day, KEK Vaux became Jagdstaffel 4 ( Fighter Squadron 4 ) under Berthold’s command. The new unit started with a starred rosta, Wilhelm Frankl, Walter Hohndorf and Ernst Freiherr von Althaus were early members all destined to become prominent Aces.

(C) Damian Grange 201

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 131 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 131 )

  ‘Thank you, Gentleman, could I have two more volunteers,’ I asked, two more troopers came to the front of the class. ‘An arm in a sling, if you please,’ once again the manoeuvre was performed perfectly. ‘Thank you, Doctor,’ said the Colonel, ‘ It is obvious that you are putting my men to good use.’

After the initial week, I doubled the amount of men that I was training, as it seemed to be a feasible prospect. The weeks flew by and before I knew it we were docking at Capetown. I had rather hoped that I might be allowed to remain with the Yeomanry, as I had made many friends amongst their ranks, both Officers and men.

But alas it was not to be, when after disembarking at Capetown, I reported to Army Headquarters for my assignment. I was told I was being sent to Concentration Camp No.1 which was apparently near to a place called Bloemfontein. I was to travel there in the morning aboard the Mail coach.

I made a few enquiries and found that it was supposedly a refugee camp for displaced Boer Family’s, for the most part, women and children with the odd male. The conditions I was told were appalling, with many of the children sick or dying.

There was already a volunteer Doctor in residence, I was to join and assist him in every way possible. From what I could glean from the men on the Mail wagon, it was a terrible place. The Major in charge was a martinet with an implacable hatred of the Boers. He had apparently lost men in a Boer ambush, so now he was reduced to glorified jailer.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

The Castle Karlstadt – Excerpt 9

The Castle Karlstadt – Excerpt 9

  ‘Not if you are prepared to give us information on your movements for the last 24 hours, we have our reasons for these questions?’ he answered solemnly.

‘During the daylight hours, I was riding with a view to being in the town before nightfall, but not being too familiar with the area, I lost my way,’ I stated openly, for I had nothing to hide, ‘When darkness started to fall, I was close to the castle, so I stayed there overnight and came on here today.’

‘Do you know about the castle, it, is a place of evil’ He stated with conviction. ‘With all due respect, Father it is just a derelict castle, nothing more, nothing less,’ I gave my opinion with as much courage as I could muster, I don’t know why, but I had the feeling that I had made a grave error of judgement.

The atmosphere of antagonism, that seemed to be centred on me when I had first entered the church, seemed now to have changed to one of optimism. I had the terrible feeling that I had unwittingly volunteered for some sort of dangerous mission. And I had not the first inkling of what it might be.

The priest said some sort of benediction, then told the assembled towns-people that the meeting was over, and that the problem was now in the hands of the almighty, whatever that meant. As the multitude started to leave the building, the Father asked me to stay, he had a favour to ask me.

Here it comes, I thought to myself, how many dragons do I have to slay before they will let me leave here. Symbolically speaking of course, I’d better check my weapons.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Conor Dillon – Beginnings Excerpt 27

Conor Dillon – Beginnings Excerpt 27

  Conor delegated the selection of the remainder of his men to Shamus and Black Michael, he had other things to hand. He knew what could be achieved with a small unit of reliable men, He knew it would not be easy, but he would shape them into the unit that he dreamt of.

Conor, whilst undergoing training with Shamus and Black Michael, had at night gone in to his Father’s library and studied the many military journals therein. He had learnt of many things, mainly of strategy and tactics, but one thing had stuck in his brain, a small well-trained unit used wisely would always beat a run of the mill unit of whatever army.

And it was to that end that he was training his men, his intention was that they would be the elite company of the Regiment Dillon and possibly The Irish brigade. It would take a lot of sweat and probably more than a little blood, but Conor believed it was achievable and he would work to that end.

The following day, Conor had his volunteers in line with their muskets, He asked how many of them were marksmen, they looked back at him bemused. The Irish soldiery of this period had a tendency to use their muskets as clubs rather than for their proper purpose.

‘From now on,’ announced Conor, ‘You will become proficient in the use and maintenance of your weapons, you will be given two days. Any man who can not fire two rounds a minute and hit a target on both occasions, will forfeit his place in this unit’

‘I, myself will take seven of you, as will Black Michael, Shamus will take six and the remainder will go with O’Driscoll. Our enemy the English beat us only in one regard, they have the firepower, they fire volley after volley which breaks men’s spirits and causes them to falter, I want to turn their own strength against them!’

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 130 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 130 )

  The following day, the men seemed more attentive, as if they realised that the knowledge I was giving them might just save their own or a comrades life. The day once again went well, I taught them where and how to use a tourniquet and how to get it just right.

Once again, I had a rewarding day, when the troopers had left, I asked the Sergeant for his opinions, ‘The men are interested, as a Yeomanry unit, they are not strangers we are almost like an extended family. The men know that in some of the earlier battles our boys took a beating, you are offering the means to maybe save a brother or a friend and on that basis, they will serve and respect you, as do I.’

The following day, my volunteers were as keen as ever to learn more ways to possibly assist a wounded comrade. And, I, for my part was just as eager to teach them, I actually felt that in my own small way I was participating in this campaign.

What I was teaching may not win battles, but it could save lives, and as an army Doctor, that was my sole concern, the saving of lives.

Shortly after our lunch break the Colonel and Adjutant paid us a visit, I can’t say I was surprised, if they were allowing me to use their men then they had every right to review their progress. The Sergeant called the troopers to attention, the Colonel told them to, ‘Stand easy!’ he asked me, ‘Was it possible to see a demonstration of their progress?’

I was happy to comply, I called forwards a pair of troopers, ‘A head bandage, if you please’ I ordered, the men immediately set too, and in a short space of time one of the troopers had his head bandaged, both to mine and the Colonel’s satisfaction.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Air Aces of World War One

Berthold and Buddecke
band bPicture – Courtesy of Pinterest

Hauptmann Rudolf Berthold – Germany’s Iron Knight 1891 / 1920 Pt 3

 Meanwhile Berthold had damaged his original G.II in a landing accident on the 15th of September and had to return to piloting an old two-seater. Shortly thereafter he returned to Germany to collect a replacement  G.II. By the 1st of October 1915 he was using it as a gunship for air defence missions as well as for bombing. On the 6th of November one of these missions turned deadly; a British FB5 gunner mortally wounded Gruner. Berthold was depressed by his friend’s death and sent on home leave.

In early December Buddecke was seconded to the Turkish air Force and Berthold fell heir to his Eindekker. He was accompanying Ernt Frieherr von Althaus when the latter shot down enemy aircraft on both the 5th and 28th of December 1915. as the Germans pioneered the use of aircraft with synchronised guns, they began to group the new aerial weapons into ad hoc units to provide protection for reconnaissance and bombing aircraft. These new units were dubbed Kampfseinsitzer Kommando ( single seat fighter detachment ). On the 11th of January 1916, Kampfseinsitzer Kommando Vaux was formed near FFA 223 and Berthold was placed in command. Even as these pioneering units formed, on the 14th of January 1916, Royal Flying Corps Headquarters directed that any reconnaissance aircraft crossing over German held territory must have at least three protective aircraft.

On the 2nd of February 1916, both Berthold and von Althaus shot down a Voisin LA apiece. It was Berthold’s first Aerial victory. He scored another three days later. Then on the 10th on February Berthold was himself downed, with a punctured fuel tank and a slightly wounded left hand. He was rewarded with one of the 12 Military Merit Orders awarded to aviators during the First World War.

Berthold continued to fly a bomber on missions as well as patrolling in his fighter. After he had scored another victory, he was honoured by his native Kingdom of Bavaria, this time with the Knight’s Cross of the Military Order of Saint Henry on the 15th of April.

To Be Continued……………………..

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 129 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 129 )

  I called for two volunteers, two men at the front of the class came forward, grinning sheepishly at each other. ‘Right!’ I began, ‘I will begin by teaching you how to bandage a head wound, which I am informed is a wound often received in this campaign. The Boers apparently tend to favour the high ground.

I placed the two volunteers front and centre, so that the other eight could observe me demonstrating to one of them how to successfully bandage the other. I took it very slowly and deliberately, I wanted the men to be able to watch and mimic my movements. My reasoning was that if I could get them doing it reasonably correctly, I could then fine tune them on an individual basis.

To my obvious delight, my two volunteers picked up on my methods almost immediately, Then realisation dawned on me. These were not raw civilians, they were trained men who to a certain extent were used to learning new methods, to them this was just another challenge.

I thanked and praised my volunteers and returned them to their seats, asking for two more volunteers to replace them. the new volunteers once again grasped the fundamentals of bandaging quite easily. I sneaked a look at the Sergeant and he seemed quite pleased with his troopers performance.

I decided then and there, that the following week I would double the amount of men to be trained. I felt the need to justify the Colonel’s faith in me. The initial day flew by, by the end of the day I had ten men who could competently bandage head wounds and also position and place arms in a sling. In the grand scheme of things, maybe not a major achievement, but I felt justifiably pleased.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

The Castle Karlstadt – Excerpt 8

The Castle Karlstadt – Excerpt 8

  I found the church easily, it was quite a substantial structure. The townspeople it seemed were particularly religious or so it would seem by the size of the church. I deftly opened the church doors, trying to keep my arrival as quiet as possible.

I had no wish to attract attention to myself, or the fact that I had a loaded weapon slung over my shoulder. I closed the doors behind me, but unfortunately they made a certain amount of noise and some of the congregation turned to see who had entered.

They looked none too pleased to see an armed stranger standing there, and putting myself in their shoes, I may have felt the same. Fortunately, the priest who appeared to be addressing the congregation, signalled me to move to the front, to where he himself stood. I felt a little intimidated, but was left with little choice in the matter.

As I marched down the aisle, I could feel all eyes on me, I had no inkling of what they were thinking, but after the reception that I had received at the village. I believed I had a little cause for concern.

The priest asked me my name, and what my business was in Karlstadt. I was happy to answer him, no problem there, I had nothing to hide. ‘I am Captain John Colbourne of Her Majesty’s Scots Guards, I was wounded in the Crimea and am now in the process of making my way back home.’ I stated in answer to his enquiry. ‘As for my business her, one of the nuns who kindly administered to my wounds, was born here, and spoke of her birthplace in such glowing terms, that I wished to see it for myself, is that a problem?’

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Conor Dillon – Beginnings Excerpt 26

Conor Dillon – Beginnings Excerpt 26

  Conor punched him in the face, then kicked him at the back of the knee, so that he stumbled and fell, he was however soon back on his feet, he gave Conor a right hook that knocked him down Conor was just about to retaliate when his Father and Uncle arrived. They had come to see what all the commotion was about.

‘Arrest that man!’ ordered Lord Dillon, ‘Assaulting your Senior Officer, this time you have gone too far, O’Rourke.’ ‘Wait!’ cried Conor, ‘I was teaching this man some unarmed combat tricks that I wish my men to become familiar with, I ordered this man to attack me.’

‘Is that the gospel truth, Shamus?’ He asked my teacher. ‘It is my Lord, it may seem a little unorthodox, but Conor wants to mould the men his own way and I for one think they might just work!’

‘I have no objection to Conor putting his own stamp on the unit, in fact I welcome it, but I would like to be kept informed of what is going on, if that is not asking too much.’ with that comment the Senior Officers turned and left.

‘You were a very lucky man, O’Rourke,’ said Black Michael, ‘You would have gotten at least fifty strokes of the cat ‘o nine tails, Or maybe they would have just hung you to save the mess, either way, I think you owe Conor Dillon, big style.’

‘I know and understand, Conor Dillon, If you will have me I’m your man, I promise to serve you faithfully. ‘Accepted, Paddy here’s my hand on it, Conor smiled and added, ‘Oh and just be a little gentler with me next time.’ A ragged cheer went up from the volunteers, now they all wanted to fight for Conor Dillon!

(C) Damian Grange 2018