Fullofit - Dreadful weather we're having! Thullier sounds like an interesting sort - I'm looking forwards to hearing more about him in Le Violet's story....26 confirmed. Wow, wow, wow. Keep it up!
Lou - good to see Swany make a return! Great news about his and Dent's reunion, and I'm very much looking forward to you getting that fancy Strutter to the front.
Raine - Again, good to see you back in action! Close call with the rough landing...but, hey, an HD squadron isn't a bad posting! Nice and cushy, which is exactly what Collins needs after all these months of war-flying in a Morane. Wonder who was responsible for the transfer order...
Lederhosen - Sounds like you're pretty handy in the old Walfisch...and a promotion in there, to boot! Good stuff. Looking forwards to more.
Carrick - hard luck that your quarry got away, but there's always the next one!
Sgt. James B. Fullard, Esc. N31, Ochey Aerodrome, France
May 10th 1916:
It was apparent in the way little Devienne drew out the syllables that even he was sick of the constant downpour that had been going steady since the morning of the 8th. I lay awake in my cot, listening to the drip-drip-drip of the rainwater, which had bore its way through the tar-paper roof, pooling up in the bucket in the corner.
“Well, I must admit. When my name popped up on the list at the G.D.E, I thought I might be able to do some flying”. I cast a glance over at Quinchez, his wry grin peeking over the edge of the scratchy wool sheet. “Don’t worry. You’ll get your chance”. “Mais oui, if the war’s not over before the rain is”.
The boredom was molasses. Its murky thickness weighted our bodies and our minds as we sat idly in our various positions around the mess table. The deck of cards lay abandoned in an untidy heap where they had been discarded last night, and the most up-to-date newspaper had been passed around between us too many times to serve as anything other than fuel to stoke the boiler. The only one among us who seemed contented with the weather was Lemoine. He was never fully sober anyway, but he had spent his three days’ impromptu holiday easing into a drunkenness which I didn’t suspect men capable of. If he wasn’t sleeping through the day, he was busying himself with exhausting the NCO messes’ supply of Pinard, with his faithful hip-flask, ever topped up with a substance of an unknown origin, to punctuate the moments between bottles. The others tried to find something - anything - to occupy their minds. Ortoli wrote lengthy letters home. Jensen disappeared for the day to the hangars, to work on his machine. Devienne moaned to whoever would listen about about all the Bosches he would be getting if it wasn't for the weather. Even the cool-headed Chaput seemed to be growing irritable.
As for myself, I spent most of my time in my room, rearranging my personal effects needlessly for hours at a time, trying to occupy my mind with mundane tasks. I should polish my boots. My uniform needs straightened on its hangar. The lamp needs more parafin. I fell into a cycle of repeating the same three or four tasks on a loop, stopping only for meals or when Quinchez returned to the room. It came as a great relief when little Devienne, his face fresh and excited, burst into our room with a paintbrush in hand.
"Fullard! Tartaux ferried my new machine in today. Care to help me paint it?". "He flew it in today? Through that weather?". "Of course! He's insane. But, never mind that. Want to help out?". "Anything to get out of this damned barracks!".
As we threw on our greatcoats and stepped out into the rain, Devienne handed me a second paintbrush, produced from within his pocket. "We'll need a stepladder to get up above the top wing". I looked at him questioningly. "The top wing? Just what kind of paint-job are you planning?". He grinned, but would let on nothing. We reached the hangar where his machine was stored. A wiry mechanic appeared, shaking his head. "Devienne, the C.O. will have your head, you know?". He waved the mechanic away, and pointed up at the top wing. "Right. We're painting it red". I looked at him and raised an eyebrow. "Painting what red...?". He laughed. "The whole wing! I want those Bosches to know that Emile Devienne is their opponent! And, of course, I want the mademoiselles to recognise me as I come in to land". He winked at me, and I gave an exasperated sigh. "Go and grab the ladder then, you young idiot".