Banjoman, thank you for keeping us all up to date. Hope you're getting everything sorted out after your big move. Best wishes!

Here is Alfred Keers' latest report...

The next few days saw generally fair weather and we flew morning and afternoon, usually in flights of three. On the morning of 19 May 1916 I went with Sgt Noakes and Sgt Thomas to attack a Hun balloon west of Lille. I saw it first and led the attack, flaming the balloon before the others had a chance to join in. The Hun observer used a parachute to escape. This became my eight confirmed kill. As we regrouped two enemy two-seaters passed us by. We gave chase and took some long shots at them, enough to put the wind up them properly. They put down their noses and ran for the Hun aerodrome at Houplin.

The follow day was a shock. The morning patrol had us attacking a rail yard north of Lille. We went with A Flight and between the two flights, we shot up the place thoroughly. The ground fire was intense and I landed with a number of holes in my machine, including a fairly close grouping just behind my seat. Sergeant Thomas, however, did not return. Neither Sgt Noakes nor I saw what happened to him. Also, A flight returned before lunch without Rob Dinton. He took a direct hit from Archie. We sorted his kit for packing in the afternoon. Pillings and Bolster decided that he would want me to have his Everymans Library volume of Shakespeares comedies. I have resolved to read the damn thing before I go home on leave.

I miss Rob. Our little hut is darker and colder. I have never known anyone like him to be so friendly and approachable. If back home hed wandered through the engine shops of the Seaham Harbour Dock Company, Id have joined with the lads in making his upper-crust life miserable. But here at the front he was just one of us, or perhaps I was one of them. It just doesnt matter like it does at home. He was a softer man than any Id known, yet he flew without fear. His education had cost his father thousands of pounds, Im sure. Yet a few bits of German tin and a couple of ounces of powder had erased him from the world of men. The world is less without him.

We have been reading of the insurrection in Dublin and the trials there. Our Irish among the ORs generally express concern that their service in France will be devalued by the misguided idealists back home. It is a complicated thing for them, and Major Dawes cautioned us to be reserved if asked about the uprising. It seems like a simple case of treachery to me, but thats why Im not in politics.

On the morning of 21 May we attacked the balloon line near Menen. I attacked two of them and downed one, but Id separated from Noakes and it was just the two of us, so my claim remains pending. That afternoon we were off for an airfield attack near Lille, but I dropped out over Armentieres with a dud engine. It quit entirely as I crossed back over our lines and I put it down in a farm field outside the village of Steenwerke, just getting over one fence and just stopping before crashing into another.


"...I put it down in a farm field outside the village of Steenwerke, just getting over one fence and just stopping before crashing into another."