My meeting with Sergeant Edith went well yesterday. I had requested that the Major introduce us in his office so that there would be a stamp of officialism to the whole arrangement that was being proposed. I was a bit taken aback when my new wingman entered; just a kid, 17 years old but looking more like a scrawny 14 year old that should be in boys school. I saw a subtle wince in the eyes as the Major called him in, "Edith! Come in, you're a bit late!". He hates that name, I thought to myself, having people call him Edith. I saw right away that this is a lad who is out to prove to everyone that he is not a little boy. This boy has been picked on in the past ... but now he has an aeroplane and a machine gun.
After introductions, the Major laid things out to the lad in pretty straight terms. He is to stick to me at all times and follow my direction, with no more wild antics or heroics. There seemed to be no argument from Edith. I wonder if that will last ... I will need to be firm for the next while, but also earn his trust in the air. I have hopes that being ten years his senior will help. As we left the office together, I told him that I was pleased he was to be my wingman (a bit of a lie) and asked did he mind if I called him James, or did he prefer Sergeant Edith? "Oh yes, James would be great Sir"; he brightened up a bit. "All right then, let's head to the hanger and you can tell me everything you know about flying the DH2. I want to learn from the best". He practically beamed.
With preliminaries out of the way yesterday, I was in the air for my inaugural flight with the DH2 this morning. I lead the flight, which was an added stress but the patrol area was in familiar territory near Armentieres so navigation was not a problem. The DH2 is a completely different bird compared to my old BE2, and I struggled to adapt. Fortunately it was a long flight and I had time to get used to the wings being behind me, the terrible lack of rearward view, and its less settled nature. Sergeant Edith stayed glued to my left and Sergeant McHard kept station to my right. We arrived home at St. Omer with no difficulties. A promising start!