L'aviateur Nungesser apres un combat aerien sur le Front de la Meuse WW1

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Air Aces of W.W.1 

  Charles Nungesser

  I have long admired the raw courage of the first Fighter pilots, they flew in aircraft made of wood and linen, powered by engines that were at best, unreliable. They had a life expectancy in hours rather than years, but still they flew and an immortal few became Aces, these are what this series of articles is about, the elite few.

Captain Charles Eugene Marie Nungesser was born on March 15th 1892 in Paris. As a child and later as a young man he excelled in competitive sports, first as a boxer and athlete, and when he was old enough a racer of fast cars, and later aircraft.

His service in the French air force was a little chequered, on the one hand he was a brilliant pilot, who before his injuries put a end to his flying temporarily, he had downed 43 enemy aircraft making him the 3rd French highest scoring ace, these were confirmed victories, he probably had many more.

His conduct on the ground however, was not quite as good. His first kill an Albatros, was in a plane that he had borrowed without permission, for this breach of discipline, he was placed under house arrest for eight days and awarded a medal. whenever he was given the opportunity he would speed off to Paris to go drinking and clubbing and would often return somewhat the worse for drink, in his tuxedo with a glamorous woman on his arm. But it never stopped his flying exploits.

Although regarded as something as a hell raiser, as a pilot, he took similar risks, it was said that he had every bone in his body broken at least twice due to crashing his planes. He called himself the ‘Knight of Death’ and his insignia was quite macabre, a black heart with a white outline, inside the heart was a white skull and crossbones, above a closed coffin with candles either side. This insignia almost led to his death, a british pilot attacked him and he had to shoot him down. after that he had red, white and blue stripes painted on the upper sides of his wings.

He survived the war, and later took part in the race to fly the Atlantic from Paris to New York, he and his navigator left Paris on 8th May 1927. His plane named L’oisou Blanc and carrying Nungesser’s macabre insignia flew up over the atlantic and was never seen again. To this day it remains a mystery!

As a matter of record, the American Charles Lindburgh scooped the prize, flying the ‘Spirit of St. Louis’ the opposite way. New York to Paris.

(C) Damian Grange 2017

The Photographs – Courtesy of Pinterest

 

 

Casanova and the Florentine Countess – ( Excerpt 2 )

  I wasn’t finding much action on my own, so I made the decision to visit an old friend and lover, the Duchess Di Milano. I had no idea of her reaction to my visit, we had parted under a cloud as it were. Her husband had discovered our friendship and was none too happy about it. So I had to vacate Florence in an unseemly hurry.

But back to business, I had heard that her husband was away on business, and in his absence, it was open house. I had heard that there was gaming and debauchery of every persuasion, just what I needed a little distraction or I may be tempted to return to Francesca’s warm and welcoming bed.

I decided that a bold approach was the best policy, So dressed to thrill, I might modestly say, I stood rapping on her door with my cane. The door opened and a flunky stood there in the Duke’s livery, ‘May I be of assistance, Signori ‘ he asked looking down his nose at me, doesn’t anyone have decent staff anymore.

‘Tell your Mistress, that Signor Giacomo Casanova of Venice, seeks an audience with her, we are old acquaintances!’ ‘ If you would like to wait Signori, I will give her your card, i will return shortly,’ and off he trotted. A few moments later he returned and with a sniff as if he had smelt something rotten, said, ‘Follow me, Signori!’

I followed him upstairs, where he led me to a closed door, ‘Knock, Signori, and it will be opened to you, he then turned on his heels and I presume returned to his post by the door. I did as instructed and rapped on the door with my cane.

The door opened, and there stood an apparition in white satin, not my Duchess, something much younger and totally entrancing. I bowed low and presented myself, Milady I am Signori Giacomo Casanova, late of Venice, to whom have I the pleasure of addressing, I did say addressing, but my thoughts were more to undressing, she was beautiful and just the kind of woman I adored!

(C) Damian Grange 2017

Double in Trouble – Excerpt 16

  ‘When do we go to meet Sergei, and see the Warheads?,’ I questioned. ‘In roughly three weeks time, so you had better get your Russian up to scratch,’ Was Mayhew’s answer. So, I stayed, a young woman was summoned, who was to teach me Russian, i am certain that both Mayhew and Schultz speak it fluently. But no matter, I will go through the motions just to keep them happy.

The woman who was teaching me, Olga, was apparently a political refugee whom Mayhew had recruited with just this task in mind. Once the ice was broken, we got on quite well, at least she had a sense of humour, which was more than i could say for Schultz, who had been looking daggers at me, from the moment I arrived.

Learning to speak Russian, wasn’t quite as hard as I had imagined. I did actually speak a smattering of several languages, so I suppose you could say my ears were attuned to new sounds, in terms of the spoken word. Every language has its own peculiarities, master them and you have it.

Olga was an excellent teacher, after a few hours we were exchanging small sentences, a little parrot – like on my part, but we were definitely making progress. After all it was only my first day. We took a break at lunch time and Mayhew sent Olga for coffee and sandwiches, no expense spared as usual.

We took a twenty minute break, then started again, Mayhew seemed relatively happy with my progress. Schultz as usual, said nothing, he just glared at me but I was getting used to it. He seemed a very personable sort of fellow, maybe it was something I said.

(C) Damian Grange 2017

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 15 )

  In Isabelle’s mind Harley Street was the goal we should be aiming for, but I had other ideas, I wanted to treat real people, not elderly ladies with imagined illnesses. If that suited Roly, that was fine by me, but I had studied to be a Doctor and that was what I intended to be.

My unwillingness to bend and Isabelle’s own insistence that she was not inclined toward a family caused constant stress in our marriage. She was not willing to compromise and neither was I, and then, there was Roly. He had taken to calling at odd times, often when Isabelle was alone.

Then I would get it rammed down my throat, about, ‘ Roly’s done this, Roly treated Lady So and So, Isn’t Roly the toast of Harley Street !’ Roly was my friend, but in my opinion, he had sold out, his patients for the most part were elderly widows who just sought company and re-assurance, hardly cutting edge medicine.

But of course, whenever it was mentioned Roly was a wonderful success, and I was an also ran. She shoved it down my throat once too often, I turned on her angrily and said, ‘You obviously chose the wrong Doctor! didn’t Roly want you?’

She turned to me and smiled sweetly and said, ‘Oh yes! Roly wanted me, but I wanted you, how wrong was I, to choose a martyr for the poor and needy!’ In a moment of anger, I slapped her across the face, something I will regret to my dying day, in my defence I was sorely provoked, but this is still no excuse for abusing a woman, I was taught better, although my Mother would no doubt say that she deserved it.

(C) Damian Grange 2017

Casanova and the Florentine Countess

  After an extremely pleasant sojourn in Padua with Francesca Lupino. I longed to travel a little more, I had greatly enjoyed Francesca, She was young and beautiful, but every woman, however beautiful has only so much to offer a man like me. I needed fresh challenges, new bodies to woo and conquer and mayhap make a little money too.

And so, I tossed a ducato and Florence won, It was agreed, for better or worse Florence, here we come, we being myself and my man, Leonardo. My servant and confidente and a man of many talents, usually involved in keeping me out of trouble.

On arriving in Florence, I hired a room in a small guest house, just temporarily until I got my bearings, I had not been to Florence for several years, not since some fool Count I had cuckolded caught me cheating at cards. The damn fool had the audacity to challenge me to a duel. I knew it could not end well, so I killed him.

I was arrested and charged, but his second, fortunately an honourable man, stated on oath that I had been challenged and forced in to the duel. The outcome of which was the Count’s demise, thankfully he never mentioned my reputation as a duellist.

But, as you can probably imagine, this little fracas did little to enhance my reputation, so I left Florence and its ladies to their own devices. Now may be a good time to start renewing some old acquaintances. Possibly in the fullness of time, they may have bore desirable daughters, I love the thrill of discovering something pure and untouched.

(C) Damian Grange 2017

 

385px-Louise_of_Mecklenburg-StrelitzPicture – Courtesy of Pinterest

Double in Trouble – Excerpt 15

  The following morning, I made my way to their Offices to inform Mayhew and Schultz of my decision, I was sure they would be thrilled. I knocked on the door and Mayhew admitted me, Schultz lurked in the background as usual, but now I knew why!

Mayhew gave me his usual gushing welcome, Hello, Old boy, have you made your decision?’ he questioned. ‘ I have! but with certain conditions of my own!’ I answered smiling. ‘That wasn’t part of the plan, old boy!’ Stated Mayhew. ‘But plans can always be altered, or updated, they are by nature, a flexible thing,’ I said.

‘I suppose that’s true enough!’ agreed Mayhew, ‘What have you in mind?’ ‘Simple enough! I want to bring my girlfriend on this little jaunt of ours, and before you object, no girlfriend, no Palenkov, it’s up to you?’ I stated with conviction.

Schultz colour changed from pale to bright red, I thought he was about to have a seizure, then Mayhew, acting as mediator said, ‘I don’t see that as a problem, do you, old boy! he asked Schultz, who looked like he wanted to kill me, then and there.

Kat had once again proved her point, I still had several bargaining chips left, but best not to push my luck with Schultz anymore today, He was in a hell of a mood. ‘ So!,’ I asked ‘     ‘What happens next!’ ‘ Today, you learn to speak basic Russian, just enough so that you and Sergei appear to be conversing in it, when we hold the Auction.’

‘How many factions will be bidding?’ I asked, wondering if they would be stupid enough to tell me. ‘Will there be many?’ ‘We are still awaiting confirmations, but yes, there is substantial interest!’ confirmed Mayhew, He’s definitely the one to work on, he’s so overconfident, I feel sure that when this is over, Schultz will dispose of him.

(C) Damian Grange 2017

Jack The Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 14 )

  But later I had worthy cause to remember my holier than thou, Mother’s words, ‘ She, won’t make you happy, she’s far too flighty!’ but for the moment I was in love and would do anything to please my bride, for she alone, had made a man of me.

My rather modest funds would not run to a Harley Street practice, but I managed to get my hands on a thriving practice in South Kensington. It had a relatively nice house attached to the surgery, I thought that it would be the perfect place for Isabelle and I to settle down and raise a family.

Although it was something that had remained unspoken between us, I had always assumed that once we were married and settled in our own home. We would try and start a family, in my ignorance I thought that this was the normal way of things.

But Isabelle, apparently had other ideas of her own, and they did not include children, at least not with me as the Father, as I later discovered. To my shame and cost. But these things occurred later in our marriage, when relations between us had taken a turn for the worse.

Once my surgery was up and running, and my living was assured. I decided to devote one day a week to Charity Patients, working class people who couldn’t afford a Doctors fee but nonetheless suffered from various ailments. Isabelle was adamant, she insisted that I was wasting valuable time, time when I could be making money to purchase a practice in Harley Street.

 (C) Damian Grange 2017

 

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Picture – Courtesy of Pinterest

 

 

John Wayne’s Last Ride

  Many years ago, the band I was playing in at the time, won the local heat of the Butlin’s National Talent contest. We won a trip to Butlin’s Skegness for a week all found and a place in the Skegness Quarter Finals.

We arrived at the Camp early afternoon, we were given our chalet keys and instructed that if we wanted a lunch we had better be a little snappy. We made our way to the dining room, we had just sat down and two girls from Sheffield joined us, they were latecomers also.

We got chatting over lunch, and one of the girls, who I admit I rather fancied, mainly because like me she was tall and slim, anyway to cut a long story short  she was saying that the next morning she was going horse-riding  did I fancy going with her. Naturally I jumped at the chance.

I had been weaned on Western movies, every Sunday night my Father used to take me to see a Western at the local flea pit or Cinema as you might know it. My Father snored while I enjoyed the film. Because of these early lessons, I was confident I could ride any horse they offered me. you live and learn.

We met and went to the stables, my partner had ridden before, she was quietly confident, as was I, Until I saw the size of the horses, They were quite tall, I hadn’t reckoned on that. We mounted, I sat my horse feeling comfortable, and willing myself not to look down.Then the horses started to walk, still fine, trotting, erm ok, galloping, oh no, I looked down and saw the ground moving rapidly a long way below me. That was when my nerves kicked in, No more John Wayne, I wanted earth beneath my feet.

I knew how to start this creature but where the hell is the brake, how do you stop this mad creature that is careering across a field hell for leather trying to catch up with my partner, I dug in my heels, pulled on the reins, nothing the mad creature just went faster.

Thankfully the other horses had stopped, so he did too, pulling in at side of my friends horse, She said, ‘ For a first timer you rode really well!’ I smiled back and thought to myself never again!

We did actually win the Quarter Finals so had to return to the camp for the Semi finals, but that as they say is another story!

(c) Damian Grange 2017

 

Casanova – One Girl too Many ( Excerpt 6 )

  I sent Francesca back upstairs to select some clothes for the other prisoners, I couldn’t return them to their families, naked or in rags, it just wouldn’t do at all. I released them and calmed them down as best I could. I informed them that Francesca would be returning shortly with clean clothing for them as I would be returning them to their homes within the hour. I stressed to them that they must all tell their Fathers that their rescuer was Signor Giacomo Casanova.

When Francesca returned I asked her where the Lupino’s kept their wealth, and could she get at it, She answered yes! to both questions. She led me upstairs to a strong room, which she opened with a key. I asked her for three silver coins, which she handed me, I explained that her poison had rendered them unconscious but not dead, with this silver I would finish the job.

I instructed Francesca to fetch the girls and get each of them to carry a bag of gold ducato’s to the front entrance of the Pallazzo, my carriage would be waiting, as would my man, Lorenzo. I explained to Francesca that this money would buy her a home in Padua, which was where I intended taking her as soon as I had dealt with the Lupino’s.

I walked through to the hall, it was as she had described it to me, they were all unconscious. I lifted the head of the younger son and forced the coin down his throat, I then repeated the process with the elder son. When it came to the Father he stirred a little, but I managed to get him to swallow the coin without waking him.

The one sure way of killing a Werewolf is a silver bullet, but I had thought of a better way of killing these vile creatures. I intended to burn the Pallazzo to the ground and as the temperature rose the silver would melt and destroy them.

I set alight the curtains and tapestries and anything else that would burn, then ran down the stairs and set everything combustible on fire too. I just managed to get out the front doors before it all went up in flames.

Everyone was safely loaded in my carriage, I Instructed Leonardo to deliver the girls to there homes, one at a time. Then to take the road to Padua, where we would be sojourning a little while as the guests of Signorina Francesca Lupino. But as they say that is a story for another day, and Venice was a trifle warm for me at the moment. A nice outing to Padua seemed just perfect!

(c) Damian Grange 2017

Double in Trouble – Excerpt 14

  I will be with you at all times, I may not look much but I was trained in unarmed combat by a sergeant in the S.A.S. and I’m an expert shot with both pistol and rifle, and I’m also quite handy with a knife!’ was Kat’s reply, which left me a little stunned.

I thought she was just a secretary, someone who interviewed possible crank callers, pretty much like me. ‘Besides myself there will be a six man assault team on standby at all times, should any mopping up be needed!’ I must admit, she sounded very competent, I will admit, I was impressed.

‘It would appear that I have very little choice, but to agree, if I want to walk away from this intact, so, what is the next move?’ I asked, and awaited the answer warily. ‘ I will contact my chief and make all the necessary arrangements, that will include a make-up Technician who can teach you how to look even more like Palenkov, just to play safe!’

That was how she worded it, but I still wondered what the hell I had got myself in to. ‘So where do I go from here?’ I enquired, feeling more than a little out of my depth.

‘When you meet up with Mayhew and Schultz tomorrow, tell them that you are up for it on condition that your girlfriend comes with you, no girlfriend, no Palenkov, be very insistent, at this point they have come too far to have you renege on the deal, it’s not such a big thing you are asking considering the stakes,’ Kat convinced me.

‘Ok!, I’ll give it a go, to be honest i’ll be glad of your company, it’ll be rather nice to see one friendly face among all those hostiles and heretics!’ I commented and meant it. ‘Aww! you really know how to make a girl feel wanted,’ grinned Kat and kissed me gently on my cheek.

That gesture although meant in fun, completely unnerved me, I was attracted to Kat, she was totally the type of woman I would normally go for? But how do you make a move on a female of version James Bond, very, very cautiously I would imagine. This whole fiasco was starting to look somewhat interesting from my viewpoint.

(C) Damian Grange 2017

 

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Picture – Courtesy of Pinterest