|First appearance:||From Russia, with Love|
|Last appearance:||From Russia, with Love|
Donovan Grant, or 'Red' Grant also known as Krassno Granitski, with the code-name of 'Granit' was the Chief Executioner of SMERSH.
Grant was the child of German professional weight-lifter, The Mighty O’Donovan and an Irish waitress. His father left after one night, leaving Grant’s mother impregnated. Six months after Donovan’s birth she died of puerperal fever. Before she died, she said that the boy was to be called Donovan after the father, and Grant, which was her own surname.
Grant was begrudgingly cared for by his great-aunt and grew up healthy and extremely strong, but very unobtrusive. He had no friends. He refused to communicate with other children and when he wanted anything from them he took it with his fists. In the local school he was feared and disliked, but made a name for himself boxing and wrestling at local fairs where the bloodthirsty fury of his attack, combined with cunning, gave him victory over much older and larger boys.
It was through his fighting that he came to the notice of the Sinn-Feiners who used Aughmacloy as a principal pipeline for their comings and goings with the north, and also of the local smugglers who used the village for the same purpose. When he left school he became a strong-arm man for both these groups. They paid him well for his work but saw as little of him as they could.
It was about this time that his body began to feel strange and violent compulsions around the time of the full moon. When, in October of his sixteenth year, he first got “feelings”, he went out and strangled a cat. The act made him feel “better” for an entire month.
Later, it was a big sheepdog, and, for Christmas, he slit the throat of a cow, at midnight in a neighbour's shed. These actions made him “feel good”. He had enough nous to see that the village would soon start speculating about the mysterious deaths, so he bought a bicycle and on one night every month he rode off into the countryside. Often he had to go very far to find what he wanted and, after two months of having to satisfy himself with geese and chickens, he took a chance and cut the throat of a sleeping vagrant.
There were so few people abroad at night that soon he took to the roads earlier, bicycling far and wide so that he came to distant villages in the dusk when solitary people were coming home from the fields and girls were going out to their trysts. When he killed the occasional girl he did not `interfere' with her in any way. That side of things, which he had heard talked about, was quite unfathomable to him. It was only the wonderful act of killing that made him “feel better”, nothing more.
By age 17, shocking rumours were spreading round the whole of Fermanagh, Tyrone and Armagh. When a woman was killed in broad daylight, strangled and thrust carelessly into a haystack, the rumours flared into panic. Groups of vigilantes were formed in the villages, police reinforcements were brought in with police dogs, and stories about the `Moon Killer' brought journalists to the area. Several times Grant on his bicycle was stopped and questioned, but he had powerful protection in Aughmacloy and his story of training-spins to keep him fit for his boxing were always backed up, for he was now the pride of the village and contender for the North of Ireland light-heavyweight championship.
Again, before it was too late, instinct saved him from discovery and he left Aughmacloy and went to Belfast and put himself in the hands of a broken-down boxing promoter who wanted him to turn professional. Discipline in the sleazy gymnasium was strict. It was almost a prison and, when the blood first boiled again in Grant's veins, there was nothing for it but to half kill one of his sparring partners. After twice having to be pulled off a man in the ring, it was only by winning the championship that he was saved from being thrown out by the promoter.
Grant won the championship in 1945, on his eighteenth birthday, then they took him for National Service and he became a driver in the Royal Corps of Signals. The training period in England sobered him, or at least made him more careful when he had his “feelings”. Now, at the full moon, he took to drink instead. He would take a bottle of whisky into the woods round Aldershot and drink it all down as he watched his sensations, coldly, until unconsciousness came. Then, in the early hours of the morning, he would stagger back to camp, only half satisfied, but not dangerous any more. If a sentry caught him, it was only a day's C.B., because his commanding officer wanted to keep him happy for the Army championships.
Grant's transport section was rushed to Berlin about the time of the Corridor trouble with the Russians and he missed the championships. In Berlin, the constant smell of danger intrigued him and made him even more careful and cunning. He still got dead drunk at the full moon, but all the rest of the time he was watching and plotting. He liked all he heard about the Russians, their brutality, their carelessness of human life, and their guile, and he decided to defect.
It was the B.A.O.R. championships that finally told him to go over. By chance they took place on a night of the full moon. Grant, fighting for the Royal Corps, was warned for holding and hitting low and was disqualified in the third round for persistent foul fighting. The whole stadium hissed him as he left the ring---the loudest demonstration came from his own regiment---and the next morning the commanding officer sent for him and coldly said he was a disgrace to the Royal Corps and would be sent home with the next draft. His fellow drivers sent him to Coventry and, since no one would drive transport with him, he had to be transferred to the coveted motor cycle dispatch service.
The transfer could not have suited Grant better. He waited a few days and then, one evening when he had collected the day's out-going mail from the Military Intelligence Headquarters on the Reichskanzlerplatz, he made straight for the Russian Sector, waited with his engine running until the British control gate was opened to allow a taxi through, and then tore through the closing gate at forty and skidded to a stop beside the concrete pillbox of the Russian Frontier post.
The frontier officer took Grant out and put him and his motor cycle into the back of a closed van and locked the door on him. After a fast drive lasting a quarter of an hour the van stopped, and when Grant got out he found himself in the courtyard behind a large new building. He was taken into the building and up in a lift and left alone in a cell without windows. It contained nothing but one iron bench. After an hour, during which, he supposed, they went through the secret papers, he was led into a comfortable office in which a colonel accepted him into the M.G.B. and gave him the tests to see if he genuinely wanted to defect.
Recruited by SMERSHEdit
- Bond continuation author Anthony Horowitz named headmaster Mr. Donovan from his Alex Rider series after Red Grant.