The Ninth Victim – Excerpt 10

‘You, as an author, have written eight best-selling novels all about girls missing from this area who have either been found dead or are still missing. There is a certain train of thought that believes that you personally know a little too much about these girls, so you must therefore be the perpetrator.’

De Peysac, much to Valjean’s surprise burst out laughing, once he had calmed down, he explained, ‘I am sorry but I have heard that same story or variations of it, that I can only treat it with humour or contempt.’

‘So, why do you choose to write about this area, and in particular, the missing girls?’

‘The person who encouraged me to become a writer, said write about what you know, things and places that you are comfortable with. I was born in this area and have lived all my life here, so what would be more natural than to translate that into words.’

‘Put that way, I can make a certain sense of it, but what is the significance of the wild boars, they feature in the title of every book you have written, why?’

‘You are city bred, so you would not understand, in the forests of this area, the wild boar is for want of a better description, our local refuse collector. They will eat virtually anything that to my way of thinking is why no whole bodies have been recovered, only bones.’

‘During the research for your books, did you discover any connection between any of the victims, did they know each other, did they have anything in common with each other?’

‘They were all aged between seventeen and twenty-three and they were all brunettes. Why they were alone in the forest I have no idea? but someone in this area knows, maybe I am getting close to discovering the culprit, hence the smear campaign. One thing I will state categorically is that if the killer is working to some sort of sick schedule, at anytime now there should be a ninth victim!’

(C) Damian Grange 2020

Air Aces of World War One

Major Roderic Stanley Dallas – Australian Ace – 1891 / 1918

Roderic Stanley ( Stan ) Dallas was born on the 30th of July 1891 at Mount Stanley station, Esk, Queensland to labourer Peter McArthur Dallas and his wife Honora. Mount Stanley was an isolated property and journeys to and from Esk were long and infrequent; Stan was the first Caucasian child to be born at the station. His family moved to Tenterfield, New South Wales, soon after the birth of his younger brother in 1893. The family returned to Queensland in 1898, settling in Mount Morgan where his father became a shift boss at the local mines. Stan attended Mount Morgan Boy’s School from February 1899, and eventually joined its cadet corps, rising to the rank of sergeant. At school he was noted for his intelligence, ability to get on with others and his quiet sense of humour. He enjoyed the outdoors and spent many hours in the mountains behind the family’s home, observing birds of prey.

In July 1907, Dallas joined the assay office of the Mount Morgan Gold Mining Company, and also enrolled in the local technical college, where he took night classes in Chemistry and Technical Drawing. He showed an early interest in Aviation, fuelled by the establishment of the Mount Morgan Chapter of the Queensland Aero Club. Dallas and his younger brother Norvel built a glider, which was wrecked by an untimely gust of wind the first time they attempted to launch it. The brothers continued to build model gliders, in spite of this initial disaster, and Stan corresponded with aviation pioneers in France, England and the United States. He later transferred to a higher paying job as a truck driver for Iron Island ironstone quarries. Stan and Norvel once again built their own flying machine while Stan was working on Iron Island. They experimented with this seaplane on nearby Marble Island, notorious for its treacherous waters. Stan lost this aeroplane in the sea.

At 1.88 Metres ( 6ft 2ins ) tall, and weighing 101Kg ( 223 lbs ), Dallas would surprise observers with his ability to fit into the cramped cockpits of fighter planes. Despite his size, he was considered a fine athlete with quick reflexes. Although he could project a loud speaking voice, he was generally soft-spoken and was not known to curse or drink alcohol, nor often to smoke. Dallas stayed fit through regular exercise at the gym, and played rugby union football. He had exceptionally keen eyesight, which he had trained by reading small print in newspapers at the six-foot length of his family’s table. To balance out athletics, he participated in amateur theatrics, where his strong voice served him well.

Dallas joined the Port Curtis Militia in 1913, and was commissioned as a lieutenant prior to the outbreak of war. Believing he had little chance of gaining a place in the recently established Australian Flying Corps, He applied to join the British Royal Flying Corps but was rejected. Undaunted he travelled from Queensland to Melbourne, where he impressed Minister without Portfolio J.A.Jensen, Jensen gave the young aspirant a letter to The Australian High Commissioner in London, Sir George Reid. Dallas paid his own passage to England, and once there applied once again to join the R.F.C. rejected again he turned to the Royal Naval Air Service ( R.N.A.S.) and was accepted, topping the entrance examination over 83 other students. He was commissioned as a flight sub-lieutenant and began his training at Hendon in June 1915, gaining Pilot’s license # 1512 on the 5th of August 1915.

To Be Continued ………………..

(C) Damian Grange 2020

The Ninth Victim – Excerpt 9

He washed, shaved and generally smartened himself up for the meeting. It was important that he gave the impression of a somewhat eager journalist. Possibly with a little charm and flattery he might unearth the real de Peysac. Would he find Pierre Dubois, had he graduated to become a serial killer, or was he just a pawn in someone else’s game?

Valjean enquired at the hotel reception for directions to de Peysac’s residence, apparently it was a short drive by car and quite easy to find. Within a short time Valjean was pulling into de Peysac’s driveway. His luck had definitely taken a turn for the better if his home was anything to go by. Valjean was impressed.

Valjean pressed the doorbell and the door opened within seconds, he sensed de Peysac had been waiting for him. This was goods news for it meant that de Peysac has fallen for Valjean’s ploy about being a journalist.

de Peysac ushered him inside, introduced himself, shook hands then led Valjean to a chair and then sat down himself in the one opposite. Valjean studied the man facing him, he was dressed casually in an open neck shirt and slacks, casually but not sloppily. Valjean placed him in his mid-thirties, although he knew he was slightly older. he had a good head of dark wavy hair, greying slightly at the temples, regular features and a welcoming smile. Natural or a tribute to a good dentist, but on all counts he looked the successful author. It was not just a character that he had invented for himself.

‘May I offer you a drink, Alain?’ Valjean was distracted from his thoughts by de Peysac’s voice. ‘Not for me, thank you, but do you mind if I smoke?’ queried Valjean.’Not at all, may I beg one off you, I quit months ago, but I’d be a liar to say I wasn’t tempted. Valjean extracted a crumpled packet of Gauloise from his trouser pocket, offered one to de Peysac and lit it for him, then selected one for himself, he lit it, feeling the familiar pleasure as he inhaled.

‘Where would you like to begin, have you any preferences? enquired de Peysac.

(C) Damian Grange 2020

Air Aces of World War One

Capitano Ernesto Cabruna – Italian Ace – 1889 / 1960

Ernesto Cabruna was born the 2nd of June 1889 in Tortona, the Kingdom of Italy. His family were merchants. Young Cabruna attended technical school until, on the 18th of October 1907, he joined the Carabinieri Reali, Italy’s version of the Military Police. The following year, he performed commendably during the 1908 Messina earthquake. On the 30th of September 1911 he was promoted to Vice – Brigadiere. From April 1912 to May 1913 he was transferred to Tripolitania, Libya. He later took part in the occupation of Rhodes.

On the 31st of January 1915, Cabruna was promoted to Brigadiere. In October 1915 he was posted to the 10th company of the Turin and Allievi ( Cadets ) Legion. On the 15th of May 1915 whilst stationed near Asiago, he rescued victims of an Austro – Hungarian bombing raid, while under fire. his valour was rewarded with a Bronze Medal for Military Valour. In July 1916, Cabruna returned to Torino for pilot’s training. He was granted two licenses for the Maurice Farman 14, awarded on the 6th of October and the 16th of November 1916. He was posted to 29a Sqadriglia on the 28th of December 1916. He would fly reconnaissance missions while so assigned.

Ernesto Cabruna, flew his first combat sortie on the 2nd of January 1917. On the 31st of May 1917, he was promoted to Maresciallo. After completing training on Nieuport fighters, he was assigned to a fighter squadron, 84a Squadriglia. on the 21st of September 1917, he was transferred to another fighter Squadron, 80a Squadriglia. He scored his first aerial victory on the 26th of October, and another on the 5th of December. By the end of 1917, Cabruna merited a Silver award of the Medal for Military Valour.

On the 26th of January 1918, he was transferred to another fighter Squadron, 77a Sqadriglia. Their Squadron insignia was a red heart on a white circle, aft of this Cabruna added his own marking, the coat of arms of his native city of Tortona. He would score a victory with his new Squadron on the 12th of March 1918. On the 29th of March he broke away from his unit and singlehandedly attacked 11 enemy aircraft. Cabruna fired several bursts of machine gun fire into a red fighter, which exited in an abrupt dive. this daring feat was captured on the cover of a leading Italian magazine, Domenica del Corriere, the illustration was by Achille Beltrame. Although existing Austro – Hungarian losses failed to support it, Cabruna was credited with the victory.

On the 4th of April 1918, he was commissioned in to the Officer’s ranks in a battlefield promotion. On the 15th of June 1918, the number of enemy aircraft was 30, but Cabruna once again plunged into solo combat and downed his fifth victim to become an ace. He shot down two more in June, before hitting a dry spell. On the 26th of September 1918 he crashed an Ansaldo A.1.Balilla in a landing accident breaking his collarbone. The new aircraft had broken an oil line, spurting oil blinded Cabruna, and he was fortunate to survive the crash landing.

He was sidelined for two days, then returned to combat duty for Italy’s final offensive, the battle of Vittorio Veneto. He claimed to have shot down two enemy aircraft on the 25th of October for his final aerial victories. On the 2nd of November he strafed two enemy aircraft on the airfield at Aiello and destroyed them. The following day the Austro – Hungarians surrendered. Cabruna was awarded the Gold Medal for Military Valour for his later exploits. The Bongiovanni commission of 1919 conformed eight of the nine victories that Cabruna had claimed, seven enemy aircraft and a observation balloon.

(C) Damian Grange 2020

The Ninth Victim – Except 8

After Fouchet had departed, Valjean lifted his suitcase onto the bed. He opened it, flicked a concealed switch which in turn opened a hidden compartment. Valjean shuffled through the contents for a moment, then muttered to himself, ‘Perfect!’ as he examined a press card in the name of Alain Garnier. An alias he had used occasionally in the past.

He rang the Hotel reception and asked if they had a local telephone directory that he might have the use of. They agreed to send one to his room immediately. Valjean thanked them and rang off. Within moments there was a rap on his door, he opened it and there stood a young maid with the requested directory, ‘Merci’ he said, and gave her a generous tip.

After he had closed the door, he sat in a chair and skipped through the pages, he felt sure that de Peysac would have a ‘phone installed. He quickly found it, phone No. and address. He dialled the number, after a couple of rings it was answered, Hello, de Peysac, may I be of assistance. The voice came as a surprise to Valjean, well spoken, one might even say cultured not at all what Valjean had expected.

‘Monsieur de Peysac, my name is Alain Garnier I am a freelance journalist, I am in Carcassone for a few days and wondered if you would be so kind as to allow me to do an in -depth interview with you. I have interest from Paris Match and other magazines.

‘I could spare you a couple of hours this afternoon, if that is convenient, at say 2.30 p.m. ‘That would be perfect, Monsieur de Peysac, thank you so much,’ stated Valjean.’Please call me Marcel, I don’t stand on formalities with the press,’ insisted de Peysac.’Thank you so much Marcel, that is very kind of you.’ ‘Not at all, Alain, I look forward to meeting you this afternoon.’ and with that he rang off.

Valjean slightly perplexed, reached into his pocket and took out a packet of Gauloise, selected one and lit it. Once he had inhaled a few mouthfuls, he began to relax. Marcel de Peysac had surprised him, he was not at all what Valjean had expected, instead of the rough uneducated felon. He had been greeted by what appeared to be an urbane and cultured man.

If his past experiences were anything to go by, this kind of thing never happened. To his way of thinking once a con, always a con. But maybe de Peysac was the exception to the rule, Valjean looked forward to their meeting with some anticipation.

(C) Damian Grange 2020

Air Aces of World War One

Oberleutnant Benno Fiala Ritter von Fernbrugg – Austro – Hungarian Ace1890 / 1964

Benno Fiala von Fernbrugg was born in Vienna to an aristocratic family with a tradition of Military service. Fiala attended primary and secondary school in Vienna, and went on to major in mechanical engineering at the local University of Technology, graduating as an engineer. He had developed an early fascination with Aviation, but was initially refused aviation service, instead being gazetted as an officer in the engineers and assigned to Fort Artillery Regiment 1 in 1910.

Being assigned to the artillery did not however diminish his interest in aviation; his brother was a naval aviator and Fiala visited airports at every opportunity. Whilst on one of these visits, he met Emil Uzelac , Commander of the fledging air force of the Austro – Hungarian Empire. Uzelac arranged Fiala’s transfer to Fliegercompagnie No.1 of the Luftfahrtruppen as a technical officer. Fiala completed his training as a flying observer on the 28th of July 1914, the very day that Austro – Hungary declared war on Serbia.

In November 1914, Fiala took charge of a locomotive of a supply train and drove it to safety even though it was under attack by Russian troops and he was wounded in the action. He was awarded the Silver Military Merit Medal fir his part in this action. On the 10th of November, he also received a most unusual promotion to Leutnant ( Second Lieutenant ) ahead of his sequence in seniority.

Although trained as an observer Fiala’s duties in this the beginning of the war consisted mainly of arming planes with machine guns and experimenting with aerial cameras. He also rigged a 30 kilogram ( 66 pounds ) radio transmitter in an unarmed plane. It was used in May 1915 on the Russian front at the battle of Gorlice-Tarnow by sending corrections to a receiver on the ground, it successfully adjusted mortar fire. Fiala was briefly attached to the testing section of the Air Arsenal before being re-assigned to a flying unit.

Fiala had had a couple of unconfirmed victories whilst flying on the Russian front. Now he was transferred to Fliegercompagnie No. 19 on the Italian front in January 1916. There he flew a Hansa- Brandenburg C1 two-seater reconnaissance plane, scoring his first confirmed victory on the 29th of April 1916. On the 4th of May 1916, he was flying as observer in a Hansa – Brandenburg C1 flown by Adolf Heyrowsky when they teamed up with a second C1 to shoot down the Italian airship M-4. This semi – rigid dirigible had just been returning from a bombing raid when Fiala shot it down over Gorizia, Italy killing the entire crew of six.

Fiala was wounded by anti – aircraft fire at the beginning of 1917. It was during his recuperation that he decided to apply or pilot’s training. After he recovered he moved to Fliegerkorps No.41J, then into a Hansa-Brandenburg D1 fighter in Fliegerkorps No.12D. Starting on the 12th of August, he ran off a string of 5 confirmed and 2 unconfirmed victories. He scored once more in October before changing squadrons once again in November to move into an Albatros D.III with Fliegerkorps No.56J.

He notched up victory number nine with 56J, but didn’t spend long with them. He was placed in Command of 51J in January 1918. His steady accretion of victories helped shape Flik 51J in to the premier fighter squadron of the Austro – Hungarian Air Force. Especially notable was his 14th victory, on the 30th of May 1918 he downed British Ace Alan Jerrard in an action that was so fierce that the loser was awarded the Victoria Cross.

Fiala racked up his 28th victory on the 20th of August 1918, he continued to fly until October but was then posted to non-flying staff duties until the war’s end. The engineer turned fighter pilot had flown on two fronts which had more hazardous flying conditions and less opportunity for air combat than the Western front in France. But Fiala’s victory roll included a dirigible, three observation balloons, and a predominance of enemy fighters he had felled. He had claimed at least five unconfirmed victories. His awards included, The Knights Cross of the Order of Leopold with war decorations and swords, the Order of the Iron Crown 3rd class with war decorations and swords, the Gold Medal for Bravery, Silver and Bronze Military Merit Medals, Military Merit Cross 3rd class and the Iron Cross of 1914, 2nd class.

(C) Damian Grange 2020

The Ninth Victim – Excerpt 7

According to Fouchet, the only person to speak ill of de Peysac was Bruno, the woman’s caretaker, a big oaf of a man who was a poor loser and a nasty drunk. ‘Do you see him as a possible suspect?’ I asked Fouchet.

‘Only of wanting to get between his mistress’s legs, a position already occupied by de Peysac, but yes, he has a violent temper, I believe he could commit murder especially if he was provoked in some way.’ ‘Could he be the killer we are looking for, do you think?’

‘Not unless he is killing on the woman or someone else’s instructions, he hasn’t got the intellect to plan something like that on his own. He might rough up the local whore, but I’d say that’s about his limit, but I’ll still keep an eye on him.’

‘It might be a good idea, I suppose its possible he could be involved in some way, even as an accessory or co-conspirator, or possibly just hired muscle.’ ‘Another point that may be of interest, that I almost forgot,’ said Fouchet, ‘ The woman is due to visit Carcassone, Bruno was whining about the extra work it had made him.’

‘So, she will more than likely be spending some time with de Peysac, I would imagine.’ ‘If they are as close as the rumours, and rumours don’t often lie?’ stated Fouchet. ‘Most especially from the keyholes that you listen at my friend.’ ‘One tries to be discreet.’ smiled Fouchet, ‘Discretion is my profession.’

‘I think?’ said Valjean, ‘That I will arrange to interview de Peysac, in the meantime continue gathering information, we will rendezvous again tomorrow night.’

(C) Damian Grange 2020

Air Aces of World War One

Lieutenant Petar Marinovic – French Ace – 1898 / 1919

Petar Marinovic was born in Paris on the 1st of August 1898, to Velizar and Agripina Marinovic. His father was Serbian and his mother Polish. Marinovic’s paternal grandfather, served as Prime Minister of Serbia between 1873 and 1874, and was Serbian Ambassador to France 1879 to 1889. Marinovic attended school in France and Ireland, and was fluent In English, his nickname was Marino.

At seventeen years old Marinovic enlisted in the 27e Regiment de Dragoons on the 12th of February 1916. On the 6th of July, he transferred to Aviation as a Student Pilot and received Military Pilots Brevet No.4910 on the 15th of November 1916. Marinovic received his graduate diploma on the 19th of March 1917 and was assigned to Escadrille No.38. He became seriously ill shortly afterwards, and had to spend two months in a French Military Hospital.

Upon his release from Hospital, he was assigned to Escadrille No.94 which was being formed near Chalons-en-Champagne. The unit earned their nickname ‘The Reapers’ and adopted the grim reaper as their logo. Marinovic was promoted to the rank of Marechal des Logis on the 26th of July 1917. On the 10th of January 1918, he was awarded the Medaille Militaire in recognition of his third Aerial victory. Marinovic claimed his first four kills flying Nieuport 24’s. On the 30th of January 1918, Escadrille No.94 was relocated to Villenueve-les-Vertus and incorporated into Groupe de Chasse XVIII under the command of Captain Jacques Sabattier de Vignolle.

Marinovic was promoted to Adjutant on the 20th of February 1918. On the 26th of March he attacked a German two-seater 800 metres (2,600 ft) above Caurel, and watched as it spiralled down towards the ground exuding smoke before he disengaged at a height of 400 metres (1,300ft). This was initially listed as a ‘probable kill’ and was not confirmed until after the war. On the 15th of May, he downed a German reconnaissance aircraft over Essertaux, its crew were later taken prisoner. Four days later, Marinovic shot down a Rumpler just south of Moreuill. By this point the French press had begun referring to him as ‘The Youngest Ace’ because of his youth.

On the 31st of May, Marinovic shot down a two-seater near Villers – Cotterets, the pilot Unteroffizier Hippolyt Kaminski was killed and his observer captured. A few minutes later he downed a Fokker Dr1, on the 5th of June Marinovic and Andre- Henri Martenot de Cordou teamed up to destroy a German two-seater over Parcy -et Tigny. On the 1st of July Marinovic downed another Rumpler near Monnes. Two weeks later Marinovic participated in the destruction of two enemy aircraft. On the 22nd of July he destroyed another Rumpler. He was made Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur on the 11th of August 1918. On the 17th of August he shot down a Rumpler and a Fokker D.VII. Marinovic was promoted to Second Lieutenant on the 20th of October and awarded the Croix de Guerre. Marinovic finished the war with a total of 22 victories. He survived the war only to die in a flying accident in 1919.

(C) Damian Grange 2020

The Ninth Victim – Excerpt 6

According to the case file, she was recently divorced and had come to Carcassone to do some research for a book she was working on. She met Dubois in a bar and surprisingly they hit it off, it seems opposites can attract. Within a week they were sleeping together and no doubt with her influence and assistance, virtually overnight, Dubois became Marcel de Peysac, author on the verge of writing his first best-seller.

Dubois, who had spent the major part of his life in the Languedoc area, and knew little of the world beyond, could only write about the things he knew. The local murders that presumably, judging by the amount of detail in his books, only he could have committed? So, once again we come back to the woman, and what is her part in this case.

The more he read, the less sense it made to Valjean. Why would you write about crimes that you were likely to be suspected of. Were you that eager to make the acquaintance of Madame Guillotine, Dubois might not be the brightest, but surely he is not that stupid? that he wishes to place his head on the block.

Well, I will no doubt discover more when I arrive in Carcassone, I have a hunch that this case may yet prove to be interesting.

When I arrived in Carcassone, once I had unpacked my case and settled in my room. I contacted Fouchet and arranged to meet him in the hotel bar, so that he could update me on any information that he had managed to glean.

By all accounts de Peysac was something of a local hero, the majority of locals spoke well of him, definitely a case of local boy makes good. Even though he was an ex-felon who had served a sentence for raping a young girl. But then, that is the media for you, they create heroes from the most undeserving of people. Still, I should not complain, their mistakes keep me employed.

(C) Damian Grange 2020

Air Aces of World War One

Leutnant Otto Parschau – German Ace 1890/1916

Parschau was born in Klausen ( now Klutznick. Poland, in the Allenstein district of East Prussia. He became a commissioned officer a year after having joined the Infanterie Regiment No.151 in 1910. Parschau was trained as a pilot in Johannisthal, Darmstadt and Hanover, receiving his pilot’s licence on the 4th of July 1913.

Upon the outbreak of hostilities in August 1914, Parschau was already serving with the Luftstreitkrafte, and soon found himself flying two-seaters on the Champagne front and then in Flanders and Alsace-Lorraine before being posted to West Prussia and Galicia on the Eastern front.

Parschau was assigned the Fokker A.III aircraft bearing both the Fokker factory serial No. 216 and the Idflieg military serial No.A 16/15. This aircraft had been previously flown by Oberleutnant Waldemar von Buttlar. This unarmed monoplane had been privately purchased in 1913 by von Buttlar. It was requisitioned by the Fliegertruppe and von Buttlar was commissioned as an officer in the German Army at the outbreak of hostilities.

The aircraft was painted in a shade of green that was the same as that used by von Buttlar’s previous Marburg Jager Regiment No.11. Parschau had served with the same, Breiftauben – Abteilung Ostende unit, abbreviated as BAO in German military communications of the time, in Belgium as Oberleutnant von Buttlar did in November 1914. As A 16/15 still bore the same green colour as von Buttler’s old unit, the aircraft became distinctive as Parschau’s ‘Green Machine’ right from the outbreak of World War One.

Parschau flew this machine on a roving commission for nearly a year, serving with FFA’s 22 and 42 and the aforementioned BAO unit, which was a group of four FFA units operating as one for the Oberste Heeresleitung or OHL the German Army’s High Command Office. In May 1915, this machine was the first to be fitted with a workable synchronisation gear; The Fokker Stangensteuerung synchroniser along with a Parabellum MG14 machine gun for its armamant. This aircraft functioned as the prototype Fokker Eindekker for Parschau’s use and combat evaluation.

Because Parschau was recognised as an experienced and proficient pilot, he was selected to go to Feldflieger Abtielung 62 as an instructor on monoplanes. Amongst Parschau’s students at the FFA were the notable pioneer flying aces Oswald Boelcke and Max Immelmann. Despite Parschau’s earlier complaints about his machine gun jamming, he managed to reel off a string of six victories over enemy aircraft between the 11th of October 1915 and the 2nd of July 1916 as part of the Fokker Scourge. on the 3rd of July 1916 he shot down an enemy observation balloon.

In July 1916 he transferred to FFA 32, gaining his 8th victory on the 9th of July 1916. He was awarded the Pour le Merite on the following day. On the 21st of July 1916 Parschau was mortally wounded in a combat with the Royal Flying Corps over Grevilliers. The fatal wound was to the chest, he also suffered a glancing bullet wound to the head, possibly from rounds fired by Capt. John Oliver Andrews. He retained enough control to safely land his aircraft behind German lines. He was rushed to hospital but died on the operating table.

(C) Damian Grange 2020