The Ninth Victim – Excerpt 11

Valjean decided that now was the time for shock tactics, The girls that you describe are just like the girl that was beaten and raped by Pierre Dubois, but of course you know that all too well…. don’t you Pierre?’

The shock tactics worked too well, de Peysac looked like he was about to have a heart attack, he tried to get up out of his chair then collapsed back into it clutching his chest. Valjean went to the drinks cabinet and poured him a large brandy, de Peysac took a sip of the brandy then downed the remainder, to Valjean’s relief a little colour returned to his face and he seemed to stabilise.

‘I do apologise, that was a little cruel, I will leave if you wish me too,’ offered Valjean. ‘Please stay!’ requested de Peysac, ‘I feel that I at least owe you an explanation.’As you wish!’ said Valjean, as he returned to his seat, and sat waiting expectantly.

‘I knew that sooner or later my sins would return to haunt me, I just wasn’t expecting it to be today. You said that you were an investigative journalist, you had obviously done your research before coming here, I would have done the same.’

‘I certainly did not intend to shock you in that way, my aim was just to catch you off guard, and for that once again I apologise,’ Stated Valjean in all sincerity.

‘Sit back, and I will relate the tale of two men, both me, both different, neither having anything in common with the other. Pierre Dubois I would like to bury and forget,’ he stated with vehemence. I identify with Marcel de Peysac, that is the real me, or are you one of these people that believes a leopard can never change its spots?’

‘I came here today with an open mind, I will listen to your story and attempt not to pre – judge you, after all you paid for the crime that you admit too!’

‘Pierre Dubois was a poorly educated adolescent, he sought to be popular and was easily led, often by people who liked to use him as the butt of their jokes. They mistreated him, but he couldn’t see it, he thought they were his friends.’

‘One night he was in the local bar, a little the worse for drink when a young girl came in whom he knew vaguely. He made a rather clumsy pass at her, she shunned him and left the bar. Of course, his so-called friends admonished him, for letting a little slip of a girl make a fool of him.’

‘Like a fool he staggered after her and caught up with her at the edge of the forest, he attempted to kiss her, she scratched his face and kicked him in the shins. Inflamed by the alcohol he had consumed and the taunts of his friends, he lost his temper, punched her in the face then dragged her semi-conscious into the forest and had his way with her. And there is not a day go’s by when he dos not regret that incident.’

Valjean much to his surprise, believed every word, de Peysac was an author, not an actor, his rhetoric was so faultless that Valjean was convinced of his innocence.

(C) Damian Grange 2020

Air Aces of World War One

Major Roderic Stanley Dallas – Australian Ace – 1891 / 1918 Part Two

On the 3rd of December 1915, Dallas joined No.1 Naval Wing and began flying combat missions using single seat Nieuport 11 fighters and two-seater Caudrons out of Dunkirk, France. Early in his career there, a practical joker imitating the Commanding Officer telephoned Dallas who was the Duty Officer and peremptorily ordered him to take off in a propeller less Breguet. Upon learning that he had been tricked, Dallas joined in the laughter, he not only accepted the resulting nickname of ‘Breguet’ but also used it as a signature on his letters to home. Having made two unconfirmed claims in February 1916 Dallas scored his first confirmed victory on the 23rd of April. He outmanoeuvred a German Aviatik C. and shot it out of control, following his victim down to 2.000 feet , though heavy anti-aircraft fire holed his plane in several places. he went on to three more victories flying the Nieuport 11.

On the 23rd of June 1916, Dallas took delivery of the newest R.N.A.S. fighter Sopwith Triplane # N 500. This was the original prototype, having undergone Admiralty trials before being shipped to France. Though still only a test plane, it was flown in combat just 15 minutes after its arrival. Dallas named it ‘Brown Bread’ and it was the first of a series of ‘Tripes’ that he would fly and fight in over the next year. He achieved his first victory with ‘Brown Bread’ on the 1st of July 1916, the same day that he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant. Three days later he was recommended for further promotion. He scored his last Nieuport-mounted kill on the 9th of July 1916, earning the Croix de Guerre and a mention in despatches for coming to the aid of a French Maurice Farman biplane. On the 7th of September 1916, Dallas was awarded The Distinguished Service Cross, ‘For the gallant manner in which he has carried out his duties,’ since first seeing action in December 1915. By the end of the year he was numbered amongst the earliest of the R.N.A.S. aces, with 8 confirmed, and 4 unconfirmed victories, and had been raised to the rank of Flight Commander.

Dallas became one of the best-known pilots of Sopwith Triplanes in the R.N.A.S. He opened 1917 by setting an altitude record of 26.000 Feet in the Triplane while testing a prototype oxygen set, he endured frostbite and oxygen intoxication in the process. By now No.1 Wings fighter squadron had been renumbered as No.1 Squadron R.N.A.S. and had totally re-equipped with production Triplanes. It also shifted airfields from Veurne in Belgium to Chipilly in France, leaving behind R.N.A.S. control by transferring to No.14 Wing, 4th Brigade of the R.F.C. Formation flying became the order of the day, as the practice of fighter pilots soloing into combat dwindled. The last three weeks of March were also filled with Dallas’s responsibilities for flight and gunnery testing. As British losses in the air began to mount during ‘Bloody April’, Dallas and his squadron moved airfields once more to La Bellevue. They were then in position to take a prominent part in the subsequent battle of Arras, where the intense aerial fighting saw Dallas add to his burgeoning score. The combat of the 23rd of April became known as one of the classic air battles of the war. Dallas and his wingman Thomas Culling took on a squadron-sized formation of 14 German aircraft, having gained an altitude edge on their foes. The naval aces exploited this edge by making quick diving attacks from opposite sides, culminating in short bursts of machine-gun fire. Using the Triplanes superior climbing abilities, they would then bob back up to position themselves for the next assault. In contrast to the usual hit and run tactics of most dogfights, the R.N.A.S. duo launched at least 20 gunnery runs over 45 minutes. The Germans were forced progressively lower, into disarray and then chased back over their own lines. While they shot down three of the enemy aircraft, Dallas and Culling also achieved a more important outcome by blocking and then breaking up a determined enemy effort against the British ground offensive. The action led to the award of a Bar to the Distinguished Service Cross for Dallas and for Culling the Distinguished Service Cross, which were gazetted on the 29th of June 1917.

By June 1917, Dallas had achieved over 20 victories in aerial combat, this experience and his leadership ability, led to his appointment as Commanding Officer of No.1 Naval Squadron on the 23rd of June 1917. The unit had been forced to cut back its operational strength from 18 to 15 aircraft due to lack of pilot replacements and a shortage of spare parts for their aging Triplanes. It had also moved airfields, to an unprepared site at Bailleul. On the ground, Dallas proved to be an efficient organiser, designing and direc ting construction of the new airbase. It was also during this time that he wrote a treatise on air combat tactics, extracts of which have survived. Both the air base layout and the treatise displayed his talent has a sketch artist. On the 2nd of November 1917, No.1 Squadron moved airfields once more, to Middle Aerodrome which put it back under overall R.N.A.S. control. The unit received its first eight new Sopwith Camels on the 9th of November as replacements for the aging Triplanes. On the 11th of November, Dallas was once again mentioned in dispatches, this time by Field Marshal Haig. After receiving its full complement of Camels, N0.1 Squadron was transferred back to England, and took up Home Defence duties at Dover. On the 16th of February 1918, Dallas led his Squadron back to France, where it was based at Teteghem, supporting units on operations along the Belgian coast. He commanded this unit until the 31st of March.

As part of the amalgamation of the R.N.A.S. and R.F.C. to form the Royal Air Force on the 1st of April 1918, Dallas was promoted to Major and given command of No. 40 Squadron R.A.F. flying Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5s. The squadron boasted several aces in its ranks, and its former R.F.C members were suspicious of Dallas’s naval background. He was nevertheless able to overcome their misgivings and established himself as the new C.O. with his personal demeanour and courage, The nickname of ‘Admiral’ that they bestowed upon him was an affectionate one. Ten days after taking over, he had adapted well enough to his new mount with its inline engine to score his first victory with his new unit. His men also saw that he would not only look out for his rookie pilots, but would not shirk the dangers of ground attack sorties. His offhand attitude to two leg wounds he received during a strafing mission on the 14th of April, after which he made a perfect landing, especially impressed his subordinates, as did his appreciation of all ranks for the hard work they put in. His studious bent continued to serve him, he kept notes on his methods of attacking enemy aircraft, which often exploited their structural weaknesses and used them to tutor pilots under his command.

Dallas was briefly hospitalised by wounds to his thigh and heel on 14th of April, but sneaked out four days later to rejoin his squadron, his departure may have been spurred by the news of the capture of his friend Richard Minifie. As soon as he was able, Dallas was flying again. By the 26th of April he had increased his official score to 37, and been awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his part in the operations at Dunkirk. He had also been recommended for the Victoria Cross on several occasions, but it was never approved. His somewhat casual attitude towards claiming victories was noted by a member of No.40 Squadron, Cecil Usher who noted that Dallas once remarked of an opponent, ‘He went down belching a lot of black smoke and after he had gone down someways one of his planes came off, but I didn’t see him crash so I shan’t claim him’ On the 2nd of May, during a lull in the fighting at Flanders, Dallas took off in his S.E.5 to taunt his foes. He strafed the German base at La Brayelle to ‘attract attention’ before dropping a package on the Aerodrome with a note reading, ‘If you won’t come up here and fight, herewith a pair of boots for work on the ground, pilots for the use of’ he then circled in mist until troops came to handle the bundle, whereupon he dropped two bombs and once again shot up the base causing ‘general panic.’ The news of this singular exploit reportedly provoked laughter from Field Marshal Haig and founder of the R.A.F. General Sir Hugh Trenchard, men not known for their sense of humour. Whilst adding to his score and leading his squadron in combat, Dallas had began thinking beyond the war. He was pleading with his father to quit the dangerous job of mining, with hints that he would support his parents by pioneering aviation in Australia. He also harboured a long – standing ambition of flying from England back to Australia, which would be a record setting journey.

Dallas was raised to Lieutenant Colonel and appointed to the command of a Wing, but he would never read the message that came from Headquarters, that arrived on June the 1st 1918 advising of his promotion and ordering to cease flying. He disappeared on a solo mission the same day. It was later learned that he was killed over Lievin during combat with three Fokker Triplanes from Jagdstaffel 14, probably by its commander Leutnant Johannes Werner. So ended the career of one of the leading lights of the newly formed Royal Air Force. Dallas’s official victory score stands at 39, but his Squadron colleagues say that this should be over 50, due to Dallas’s cavalier attitude to claiming.

(C) Damian Grange 2020

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