I've been terribly busy with real life again, but I'm doing my best to catch up with everything. Wulfe, I'm sorry about the loss of Graham. I enjoyed reading about his adventures. His final flight was quite realistic - no big drama, just bad luck with a stray bullet. That happened to so many real pilots in the Great War. Better luck with the new guy!
It's going to take a while to read all these reports...
Oh, and here's the latest from Julius!
11. FIRST BLOOD
"Well it is quite simple. I fly close to my man, aim well and then of course he falls down."
- Oswald Boelcke (October 1915)
April 1, 1916. Early morning, somewhere over the Somme.
Julius could clearly see the French Nieuport approaching the observation balloon that was watching over the left flank of the German 2nd Army. Sunlight reflected off the enemy plane’s surfaces. Julius was flying a couple of hundred meters higher than the unsuspecting Frenchman, who was steadily closing in on the German balloon. Julius cocked his machine gun, reduced the engine’s throttle and pushed his machine into a shallow dive. It was the perfect moment for an attack. Rapidly the Nieuport grew bigger in his view. Julius aimed at the cockpit of the Frenchman and pressed the firing switch on the control column. The Spandau barked angrily over the engine sounds of the Fokker. This time there were no stoppages. After his disastrous earlier encounter with the English two-seater, Julius had made sure the ammunition belt of his Spandau was in tiptop shape for every mission. He kept firing at the Nieuport for what seemed like an eternity. Finally the French plane turned left, banked over and went into a deadly spin, clearly out of control. Watching over the left side of his cockpit, Julius could see the hapless Frenchman crash down in No Man’s Land. It was a brutal crash, and the Nieuport crumbled into a shape that barely resembled an aircraft. There was no fire or explosion.
Julius returned to Bertincourt with his heart racing and his sweaty hands gripping the control column. After making a successful landing, he switched off the magnetos and the rotating Oberursel engine slowly came to a halt. Everything was quiet. When his mechanic approached the cockpit, Julius grinned broadly at him and shouted excitedly: “I got one! I shot down a Frenchman!” Soon a small crowd had gathered around Julius and his monoplane. Julius then gave a report of his encounter to Hauptmann Viebig, who telephoned the 2nd Army headquarters and requested confirmation of Julius’s claim of victory. A nerve-racking wait followed. After two hours, the telephone rang. The flying troops staff officer (Stabsoffizier der Flieger) of the 2nd Army informed Bertincourt that the ground troops responsible for the observation balloon had indeed witnessed Julius’s air combat and could confirm the exact location of the downed Nieuport in No Man’s Land. Unfortunately the wreck was out of reach, but there was no question about the veracity of Julius’s report. Julius was both relieved and excited by the news. He had finally succeeded in his goal of becoming a victorious aviator.
That night there was a celebration at Bertincourt. As Julius finally retired to his bed for the night, the elation felt over his first victory was somewhat lessened by the troubling knowledge that earlier in the day, he had killed a fellow human being. Julius did his best to ignore this feeling of guilt and tried to get some sleep.
"Upon my word I've had as much excitement on a car as in the air, especially since the R.F.C. have had women drivers."
James McCudden, Five Years in the Royal Flying Corps