Tag Archives: Jack Rees

Get the first segment of The Watch by Jack Rees

There is a million ways to start a book and twice as much advice out there on how you should do it. Everyone says there should be a “hook” those first few words that draw the reader in and then encourage them to start turning the pages. The Watch was a complicated piece to craft. The story has elements that span time from the far reaches of the primordial Universe, the ancient beginnings of the tribes of Israel–to the not too distant future when America faces a security challenge unlike any other. Central to the story is the hidden war Winston Churchill waged against Hitler and the occult forces he gathered under the guise of the SS and its organizational mastermind Heinrich Himmler. This very real and still largely secret war was waged by a group Churchill called The Watch. It consisted of Hermetic magicians, witches, warlocks and fortune tellers. So…there are two beginnings, one in the distant reaches of the galaxy, and the other on a Minnesota dairy farm a few years before the start of The Great War:

The Watch: Churchill’s Secret War for the Soul Of Germany

Dust to Dust.

Some would have it that the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in the Amazon can have an impact on the path of a tornado in Texas. On such inconsequential things can rest the lives of humankind. There is something far beyond, for in truth, when some fold in space and time causes two grains of dust to smite each other in the vast, cold reaches of the galaxy, the fate of great nations can be decided, and even the very destiny of a world determined. 1: Saturday, August 30th, 1913, Thief Lake, Minnesota: 

Old Lars.

The wind whistled outside the barn. It was cold, and getting colder. Soon the ground would freeze as winter descended from the Canadian border. The family would withdraw into the farmhouse and the outbuildings and tender the dairy cattle and the other animals through the short days and long, dark nights. Well before then old Lars wanted to plow the south field, the one never turned over before. His grandfather, and great grandfather before him, had used it to graze the dairy herd. Now Lars had it in his head that the sod needed to be turned over to lie fallow and frozen throughout the Minnesota winter. Next spring, he’d plant a crop. “The tractor would do it in half the time, farfader.” Ben Størgaard used the Danish name in hopes of moving the old man. “And with half the effort. The work and the cold are good for you, Benjamin. You have to feel the ground, feel the horses. You get none of that breathing diesel fumes and planting your arse on a tin seat.” Even at eighty-five the old man could plow a furrow as straight as an arrow. They swapped around at the end of each row, one steering the horses, the other at the plow as it ran deep through the rich black soil. Halfway through the south field, Ben, seventeen, was aching, his back and arms tiring from steering the plow. Lars chuckled. “If you’re set on joining the Army next year you’d better toughen up, Benjamin. Mikkel and Charlotte will tease you if farfader has to finish the south field on his own.” Ben forced a grin and hunched down on the plough. Yes, his mother and father would never let him hear the end of it. He was thinking about a suitable retort when the plow blade screeched and shuddered as it met something huge in the ground below. The horse harness pulled the handles forward, up into the air. The crossbar slammed into Ben’s cheek, a bolt-end gouging a furrow across his cheek and forehead. Lars stopped the horse team and was leaning over him seconds later. He pulled a clean rag from his jacket and pressed it against the wound. Ben insisted on getting up. “I’m okay granddad, really. It’s just a scratch.” The bleeding did stop, mostly because Ben willed it to. After a few moments, against the old man’s protests, he stood and checked the plow. The rig was not damaged though the blade had hit the edge of a large, flat rock under the dirt and grass. “Let’s get a hook and have the horses pull it out…that’s if you’re up to it, Ben.” The grappling hook held under the edge scored by the plough blade. The horses strained forward and the rock lifted and rolled over onto the grass. Lars leaned forward to free the hook. “It’s big. We’ll have to pull it over the edge of the field. I hope there are no…” Ben stepped forward to look. The old man had fallen silent as he looked at the slab. One end was ragged but the sides were straight and the other end was carefully rounded. It looked like a huge tombstone. His grandfather was staring at a line of marks on the slab. He leaned forward and scraped more of the damp earth off the surface. Ben could see that the marks were intentional, row after row of them across the slab. “Grandad, the marks, they look like runes.” Old Lars muttered under his breath, repeating something in Danish. Ben strained to make sense of his utterances, but they were ancient words in a dialect he did not understand. His grandfather’s hands shook as they exposed the rest of the script. Finally the old man stepped back. He seemed withered and very, very old. “What’s up, farfarder? Let me read.” “They are the most ancient runes I have ever seen. Runes, here, in Minnesota.” “The stone came from across the sea?” “No. This is local rock. It was carved here. A long time ago.” “What does it say? Let me read it.” Ben leaned forward to read. His grandfather’s face was strained and seemingly more lined than before. “You already know the Størgaards are a family of rune masters, Ben. Or at least they were until your father would have none of the old traditions.” His voice was cracked and rasping, his breathing labored as if recovering from some great blow to the chest. “Your wound, Ben, it has begun to bleed again.” “Sorry, Granddad, maybe I should go back to the house and get it seen to.” The old man turned away, he was pointing to a symbol on the earth-stained rock, muttering strange words under his breath. Ben leaned forward to see and hear. His blood dripped from the wound onto the rock. The old man froze in horror. He began to cry, the tears washing clear rivulets through the mud and dirt on his withered face. Ben pressed the rag to his wound again. He could never remember, ever, having seen his grandfather show emotion. “What is wrong granddad?” “Read for yourself, they speak of an age of war. An ocean of blood to come, Ben.” “You mean, in the future? When?” “They say when the sun wheel on the rock is bathed in the blood of the Hammer of Wotan. ” The words made no sense to Ben. He looked at the sun wheel, a swastika, covered in his own blood. “Let’s get back to the house. We can finish this tomorrow.” To Ben’s surprise, his grandfather offered no objection. They put the plow and the harness up, fed the horses and then went back to the main house. It was late in the afternoon. His mother tended to the wound on Ben’s cheek and forehead. Old Lars took his favorite chair at a window overlooking the distant fields of the Størgaard farm. They found him still there when dinner was ready hours later. He was quite dead. Ben sat in his room, sorting the clothes he would take with him, but mostly just looking at the walls and the furniture he had grown up with, knowing it might be many years before he would see them again. He still could not shake off the expression on his father’s face when he told him, or the guilt. Four generations of Størgaards had owned the farm at Thief Lake. His great-grandfather Adalwolf had brought his son Lars from Denmark seventy years ago. Two other sons followed. Lars was the oldest and it was to him that the entire farm went when the old man died. This was to be the way, so that the farm would remain intact. The younger brothers went west to become little more than cards at Christmas with a scrawled “God jul.” When Lars reached the remarkable age of 84, he deeded the farm to Mikkel, his oldest son. Mikkel’s sister married and his youngest brother went west to find his own way. Mikkel had married and along came Ben, his sister Clara and youngest brother, Little Lars. Mikkel had managed the farm well, expanding the dairy herd, milk and cheese production. He bought land from some of the sons and daughters of the German farmers that migrated to the Thief Lake area. Ben stood to inherit considerable land and wealth. But he wanted something else. He looked out his garret window at the hillock behind the farmhouse. How many times had he sat up there, next to the grave of Adalwolf and looked across the great expanse of land that was his father’s farm. This was to be his world, his future. The time and the generations would flow through him, Adalwolf, Lars, Mikkel, Benjamin. Spring planting, fall harvesting, birthing calves, milking cows, curing cheese. The cycle went around and around–an eternity of Størgaards into the distant future. And yet he knew there was a world beyond the lakes and green fields of Minnesota. A world that called to him. Three months before he and his father were stacking cheeses into a wagon. They would be sent across the border to Winnipeg. “Far?” His father stopped in mid-cheese. It wasn’t often his son used Danish. “Ben? What is it?” “I’ll be eighteen soon. I want to join the Army.” Three months later his father and mother were still resisting. Family and farm came first. There were rumours of war in Europe. He would lose his inheritance to Little Lars. Ben was resolute. He was going to leave. Now Old Lars was lying beside Adalwolf on the hill above the house. Mikkel waited with the horses and the wagon bent on taking him on the first leg of the journey down to St. Paul. Ben said goodbye to farfarder Lars, kissed his mother, sister, hugged Little Lars, slung his foot locker into the back of the wagon and left. He never looked back. 2: Tuesday, September 14th, 2032, Chicago

 SS Obersturmbahnführer Grauber.

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You can order a copy of The Watch: Churchill’s Secret War for the Soul Of Germany  from The Hamburg Press at: http://www.thehamburgpress.com   or from Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/The-Watch-Churchills-Secret-Germany/

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The Hagley Wood Murder: The body in the Wytch Elm

The actual witch elm in Hagley Wood

The actual witch elm in Hagley Wood

In April of 1943 three boys went bird egg hunting in Hagley Woods – lands on the estate of Lord Cobham below Clent Hills in the Cotswolds District of England. In the midst of the forest was a stunted elm tree. It was a likely spot for a nest, so one of the boys clambered up to the top, some five feet from the ground. The boy, Robert Hart, discovered that the tree was hollow. Staring up at him from the rotting leaves inside the trunk was a human skull. A body had been tossed into the hollow trunk of the ancient elm.

Within a short while Worcestershire County Police were able to determine that the skeletal remains belonged to a woman of medium height. At the time of her death she was dressed in a dark striped woolen cardigan, a light blue plastic belt, a dark cloth skirt and blue crepe soled shoes.

The bones showed no evidence of injury, so the cause of death could not be determined. The only distinctive feature of the entire skeleton was the mouth – the teeth were particularly irregular. Professor J. M. Webster, one of the country’s top forensic pathologists, was called in to minutely examine the remains. It was he who developed a mass of evidence including the clothing and the teeth. The teeth were especially important. Dental records, even in the 1940s, were such that the identity of the woman would not long remain a mystery. Even so, the police contacted shops and manufacturers, possible sources of the clothing and the distinctive crepe soled shoes.

As the police investigation widened, several disturbing facts surrounding the location of the body came into consideration. The tree that served as the woman’s grave for some eighteen months was known locally as “The Wytch Elm.” Looming above Hagley Wood were the Clent Hills – atop which was an ancient circle of stones said to have been used by local witches for sabbats. Eighteen months after the body in the Wytch Elm was discovered there another killing 40 miles away. The body of Charles Walton was found beneath an oak tree at Meon Hill, his body staked to the ground with his own pitchfork – and a cross deeply carved in his throat with a knife.

The villagers in nearby Lower Quinton were convinced that witchcraft was behind the Walton murder. Police began to consider that the Hagley Wood murder might have similar connections.

As I write this, 71 years after the body of this 35 year-old woman was discovered, she remains unidentified. Despite the wealth of clues, nothing was ever learned about who she was, or how she died – or who murdered her.

I came across both murders in my research for The Watch: Churchill’s Secret War for the Soul of Germany. I decided to keep the memory of the lost woman in the wytch elm alive by weaving it into the storyline. In the book (a reflection of the still largely secret truth) Churchill uses occult groups in England to actively combat the pagan work of Himmler’s black priesthood, the SS. Himmler and Hitler both used astrologers – so Churchill employed them to tell him what Hitler might be thinking. It was also important to let Himmler know that an occult war was being staged against the Nazi Reich.

In the book the body in the wytch elm finally gains a name and a face. It might be fiction – but then again, there are those who believe it may not be far at all from the truth.

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