Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 128 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 128 )

  And so, the following day, after I had breakfasted, I reported to the assigned stateroom to begin my tuition of the Colonel’s troopers. When I arrived, there were ten troopers awaiting my ministrations, they were surprisingly well-behaved, I believed in some part due to the presence of Sergeant McKay, a somewhat stocky Scotsman with a florid complexion. He looked the type of man who would brook no nonsense from Officers or other ranks.

I introduced myself to the troopers, and explained to them why they were there, ‘You may well think this is a waste of time, but what I am about to teach you might well save your life or the life of the comrade sat next to you. If you are not interested in saving lives, see Sergeant McKay and he will find you other suitable employment. If, however you decide to stay, I will teach you skills that can and may save a comrades life!’

There was a little shuffling and muttering, but they all opted to stay. I have no idea whether it was my inspiring speech or the dirty looks that they were getting from Sergeant McKay. Either way I counted it as a minor result, it was a promising  start, all it needed now was to pique their interest.

‘Have any of you, any knowledge of First Aid at all?’ I enquired. There was no reaction, but than again I would have been surprised if there was. But at least now I knew the enormity of the task I had taken on. But then I knew it was never going to be an easy ride.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Air Aces of World War One

Picture – Courtesy of Pinterest

Hauptmann Rudolf Berthold – Germany’s Iron Knight 1891 / 1920 PT.2

  Berthold was also the observer on flights on the 1st and 3rd of September. He saw panicked French troops retreating across the Marne river. Later the same month he discovered the French counter -thrust between the German 1st and 2nd armies.

German staff Officers disbelief led to Berthold personally briefing Generaloberst Karl von Bulow on the situation. Bulow moved his troops to higher ground; the first battle of the Aisne began. General Bulow had received the initial award of the Iron Cross Second Class on behalf of the 2nd army; He personally awarded the second one to Berthold on the 13th of September.

On the 4th of October, Berthold was awarded the Iron Cross First Class, once again the second in line, awarded personally by General von Bulow. As Novembers wintry weather limited combat flying, Berthold arranged to continue with his pilot’s training at a nearby flight park. He became friends with a fellow student, Hans Joachim Buddecke.

Rudolf Berthold finally qualified as a military pilot on the 18th of January 1915. He arranger Buddecke’s transfer in to FFA 223. Berthold was assigned an observer Leutnant Gruner, for flying reconnaissance sorties; they soon became friends. In June they were finally supplied with machine-guns for their aircraft, Berthold could cease his futile attacks on the enemy with his service pistol.

At about the same time, Berthold was laid up for a fortnight with dysentery. FFA 223 was re-equipped with AEG G.II bombers in August, The twin-engined giant was armed with two swivelling machine-guns and manned by a pilot and two gunners. The unit also received its first single-seat fighter with a synchronised gun, a Fokker Eindekker.

Berthold knew that he was allowed to cross the enemy lines in the AEG GII but not in the Eindekker, which was restricted to patrolling behind German lines. Berthold took command of the big bomber, and left Buddecke with the Eindekker. This decision sped Buddecke on his way to becoming one of the first wave of German Aces that included Oswald Boelcke, Max Immelman and Kurt Wintgens among others.

To Be Continued ……………..

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 127 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 127 )

  ‘I’m not doubting your sincerity, Doctor, but what do you know about typhoid? asked the Colonel.

‘The figures for this conflict came direct from the War Office, My experience with typhoid and for that matter, cholera too, came from practising my profession in the East End of London for twelve years. Whitechapel to be precise, where I dealt with several outbreaks of both diseases. I have first – hand knowledge of their cause and effect! ‘I stated confidently.

‘Bravo!’ said the Colonel, much to my astonishment, ‘ You don’t really think that I would let you loose on my men, without first checking your credentials. By all accounts you are a modern Doctor with a reputation as a bit of a crusader, but the part that impressed me the most was that your patients always come first. And on that basis I will trust you with my men, In fact I will go so far as to endorse the scheme with Headquarters.’

For the first time in ages, I was lost for words I grasped the Colonel’s hand and shook it whilst trying to come up with words that suitably summed up my gratitude.

The Adjutant intervened, ‘There, is a stateroom on the upper deck, that, you may have the use of, I will assign you a sergeant and ten men initially and we will see how you progress? Are you ready to begin tomorrow?

‘That’s not a problem, thank you so much Gentlemen, I promise I won’t fail you!’ I stated.

‘There was never any doubt in our minds!’ replied the Colonel.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

The Castle Karlstadt – Excerpt 7

The Castle Karlstadt – Excerpt 7

  It was not a question of courage, more that curiosity had gotten the better of me. I wanted reasons, I sought answers?

I slung my rifle back over my shoulder, Karlstadt, unlike the village, would have order and officials to see that order was kept. On that basis I felt relatively safe.

I would, I surmised, be dealing with educated men, who like myself were capable of logical thought whatever the circumstances that prevailed. And yet again I was proved to be wrong!

As I reached the outskirts of the town, I felt a little re-assured, everything seemed peaceful and orderly as I supposed it should be. Then it suddenly struck me, it was too quiet, in fact the silence overwhelmed me. This was a town, I would have expected much more hustle and bustle.

Where were the townspeople going about their daily business. All the shops were closed and shuttered. It was like a ghost town, where were all the inhabitants. it was getting odder by the moment or so it seemed to me.

I was approaching what appeared to be a Livery Stable, I dismounted and led my horse inside. There was a youth scattering straw on the floor with a pitchfork. I asked him if he could attend to my horse, he nodded and led him in to a stall where he fed him and settled him in.

With my horse attended too, I asked the youth where everyone was? He explained to me as best he could, that almost all the townsfolk were at a meeting in the church, which was a little further up the street on the right hand side.

I decided to gate-crash this meeting, don’t ask me why? Something about this place was troubling me. I felt that I needed answers? And where better than the church, Priest’s knew everything, or so I surmised.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Conor Dillon – Beginnings Excerpt 25

Conor Dillon – Beginnings Excerpt 25

  ‘Yes, me!’ a voice spoke from among the volunteers. ‘Then show yourself, soldier’ said Conor, ‘Don’t be shy, I won’t hurt you.’ The crowd parted and a tall, stocky soldier swaggered through, he was not as tall as Michael, but much taller than Conor.

It was obvious by his demeanour that he was a bully and a drinker. Conor thought his overconfidence would be his downfall. Black Michael suggested, ‘Do you want me to deal with this one?’ Conor replied, ‘No, I’m fine,’ and to the bully,’What’s your name, soldier?’

‘I’m Paddy O’Rourke, boy!’ he answered in a surly fashion. ‘Well, Paddy, I take it you like to fight with your hands, that’s just fine with me.’ said Conor. Who immediately punched O’Rourke in the stomach winding him, O’Rourke though winded came back hard and  fast, gripping Conor around his waist.

Conor retaliated with a headbutt which although it would have floored lesser men, seemed to have had hardly any effect on Paddy. Conor was beginning to realise that  maybe he had been a little overconfident in challenging the bigger man. Maybe he should have left him to the ministrations of Black Michael, a man more his match.

But he had no choice, if he were to lose face in front of these men, he would never get them to follow him into battle. The fight must continue, to the bitter end. O’Rourke tightened his grip on Conor’s waist making breathing difficult.

Conor managed to free a hand and following Shamus’s teachings, with the heel of his hand he punched O’Rourke under the nose, not hard enough to kill, but certainly hard enough to make the man release his grip.

(C) Damian Grange 2018


Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 126 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 126 )

  After we had eaten our fill, we left the table and stood chatting. Jimmy had introduced me to some of his fellow Officers, and we were all sharing our opinions on the conflict that we were on our way to join.

A steward came to me and said, ‘The Adjutant would like a few minutes of your time?’ he gestured across the room to where the Adjutant stood with a red-faced Officer with a very military bearing, I guessed at once that this was the Colonel.

I walked across the room to where they stood, ‘You wanted me, Sir!’ I said, ‘Yes, Doctor this is the Colonel, he is very interested in what you are proposing’ replied the Adjutant.

The Colonel, appraising me, asked, ‘Could you explain briefly what it is you propose and how it will effect my unit both in the short and long term?’ he had me, so now I had to prove my credentials or lose his attention and possible support.

‘As I am sure that you are aware, there are very few trained Doctors in this area for the treatment of the wounded, basically what I am proposing is that I teach your men to care for each other under battlefield conditions in order to prolong a life as long as possible.’

‘And how, may I ask, do you propose to do this.’ queried the Colonel.

‘First, and I mean no offence, we must work on the men’s personal hygiene. The majority of men that we have lost in this war, have not been to Boer bullets, but to typhoid. I would suggest that all water, whether it be for washing, cooking or whatever reason, should be boiled before use. I realise this will be inconvenient, but in the long run it will save lives, we will only win this war with healthy men.’ I stated.

(C) Damian Grange 2018

Air Aces of World War One


Picture – Courtesy of Pinterest 

Hauptmann Rudolf Berthold – Germanys Iron Knight 1891 / 1920

Oskar Gustav Rudolf Berthold was born in 1891 at Ditterswind, in the Kingdom of Bavaria. His father was an Head Forester. His military career began in 1910 when he was accepted as an officer candidate in the 3rd Brandenberg  Infantry Regt. He was required to serve 18months training as an Officer candidate, before being voted on by the Regiments Officers. Berthold was accepted and on 27th January 1912 he was commissioned as a Leutnant. Towards the end of Berthold’s training, the Jungdeutschsland – Buch ( Young Germany Federation) was founded. he became the Wittenburg leader of this Patriotic Society that was mobilising German youth for National Service.

Der Fliegertruppe ( The Flying Troop ) became an official part of the Imperial German Army on the 1st of October 1912. Berthold learned to fly at his own expense in 1913, qualifying as a pilot in September of that year. He trained at the Halberstadter Flugzeugwerke ( Halberstadt Aircraft Factory on dual-control Bristol Aircraft; one of his fellow students was Oswald Boelcke. After informing his family that he was on ‘Special Assignment’ to a Flying School he underwent Military Flight Training during July 1914.

The outbreak of World War One disrupted the young aviators progress, on the Ist of July 1914 Berthold was recalled to his regiment; Once there, he discovered his marching skills had deteriorated during his Aviation training. after a fortnights refresher course in soldierly skills he was transferred back to Aviation Training. On 17th July 1914 he was officially transferred to the Air Service. Because of his fortnight break he had to serve not as a pilot but as an observer.

On the 1st of August 1914, He entrained for the Royal Saxon Air base, at Grossenhain, by the 7th of August 1914, Berthold was transferred to Feldflieger- Abteilung 23, supporting the German 2nd Army. By the 9th of August FFA23 was encamped at Monschau, close to the Belgian border. On the 15th of August, Berthold was chosen for the units first reconnaissance mission. Two days later, his pilot strayed off course, Berthold and his pilot, landed lost. They managed to evade French Cavalry  to direct retrieval of their DFW Biplane. In his diary, Berthold noted his decision to complete pilot training.

(C) Damian Grange 2019



Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 125 )

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 125 )

  ‘Usually we only wear Mess Dress for special occasions, or if we have a high – ranking guest joining us for dinner its generally a bit of a posh to-do, polish the Regimental silver and all the bullshit that goes with it, but its not all bad, we occasionally get a half decent wine or a drop of champers!’ explained Jimmy.

We stayed together for the remainder of the day, acquainting ourselves with the layout of our floating home, albeit for a few weeks only. A little time was spent chatting to the troopers, who to my untrained eye, seemed an amicable bunch, not short on intellect.

Late afternoon we returned to our quarters, to do our ablutions and change for dinner, everything, must be just so if the Colonel himself is finally to make an appearance.

I asked my colleague, ‘Will I do?’ his answer was, ‘ You look fine, its only for the Colonel, not some top-brass, spit and polish General, don’t get all on edge.’

‘Well!’ I replied, ‘You have to realise I’m new to all this, I don’t want to stagger in to your Mess, like a bull in a china shop,’ ‘ Just relax and you’ll be fine, even with the Colonel present, its quite an amicable affair and the food is usually quite decent.’

I was pleasantly surprised, the atmosphere was quite sociable, and I was made welcome and not made to feel like an outsider at all. The food was excellent, but then, the ship had been a cruise liner before being converted to a troop carrier so I imagined the crew knew their business.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

The Castle Karlstadt – Excerpt 6

The Castle Karlstadt – Excerpt 6

  As I rode through the village and saw the looks I was getting from the local populace, I began to realise that this was not the normal reaction. The women looked away and crossed themselves as if I were something unholy, and the men looked at me with unbridled hatred in their eyes.

I unslung my rifle from across my shoulders, I was badly outnumbered but I had been  in situations like this before in India. And from experience I knew that if you killed or wounded the ring leader, the remainder would back down allowing you to make good you escape.

This situation had in no way reached that point, but as a stranger in a foreign land, I was taking no chances with them, better safe than sorry.

I put the spurs to my horse and galloped unhindered through the rest of the village and out the other side, until I was safely back on the road to Karlstadt.

I halted behind a small copse of trees, and checked to see if I was being pursued. I saw and heard nothing. Odd? I thought, I somehow expected to be pursued. This was hardly the welcome that I had expected to receive.

I was now in something of a predicament? Should I continue to Karlstadt and hope that my welcome would be a little more civilised. Or did I take the view that for reasons unbeknown to myself, I was persona non-grata in this region.

It was a typical military situation, damned if you do, damned if you don’t! there was no other choice. I had to venture in to Karlstadt, and face up to whatever problem was awaiting me there, I had no choice. It had to be done.

(C) Damian Grange 2019

Conor Dillon – Beginnings Excerpt 24

Conor Dillon – Beginnings Excerpt 24

  All the bravado and insolence, that Flaherty had shown seemed to vanish with those softly spoken words, he saw death in the depth’s of Conor’s green eyes. ‘Pistol’s!’ he spat out, not at all sure he had made the right choice.

Black Michael handed each of them a horse pistol then positioned then for the duel, they stood back to back. ‘Walk ten paces, turn and fire, if no one is injured reload and fire until one of you is hors de combat or dead.

Shamus edged up to Flaherty and said,’ If I were you, I’d fire my shot and run, I’ve seen the boy shoot, he never misses, and he’s really pissed with you!’

Black Michael issued the command, ‘Start walking!’ the other reluctant volunteers started to count off the paces, ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, fire! Flaherty turned and fired, but due to Shamus’s words had fired in panic, his shot way to the left of Conor.

Conor stood facing him, his pistol raised and a scowl on his face, said, loudly so all of the men could hear, ‘Will you serve me, bastard or not or would you sooner die here, shot as a mutineer by your senior Officer.’

Flaherty, with eyes downcast answered, ‘ I will serve you, if you will have me, Conor Dillon?’ Conor, grinning said, ‘I have already had you!’ he pointed the pistol at Flaherty who looked terrified, and pulled the trigger. There was a puff of smoke as the powder ignited, nothing more.

The pistol wasn’t loaded, Flaherty looked at Conor bemused, then started to laugh out loud. Conor patted him on the back, ‘ I need good men, I don’t waste them. Anyone else here who will not accept my authority?’

  (C) Damian Grange 2019