The past 10 days caught the German Kommand by surprise. But, despite day long bombardments, the tenacious German youth held on and was able to stem the tidal-wave of British soldiers wasting themselves on the uncut barbwire. The situation in the air had also seen some unpleasant developments too. Information was needed fast.
“Listen Otto, I'm well aware of the hard times you are having, but OHL.... I need your help in this matter.” Ltn.Parschau fell back into his seat. The unexpected visit from Hptm. Wimmer, Stofl 1.Armee, caught him off guard, and for a man who's life depended on not being surprised, Otto felt that he had been ambushed.
“Well were do I start Herr Hptm. I have seen this 3-winged aircraft myself. The pilot moved off as we approached him, and a chase deep into enemy lines was out of the question. I can't say that I saw any armament on top of the aircraft, which seems to be the style of our British colleagues. I'm not in touch with other units who may of met this fellow but rumor is that it climbs like a monkey.”
A knock on the office door broke the tension in the room. “that will be Willi, I asked him to come over as he has the most experience here.” said Otto. “YES, come in.”
Willi opened the door and entered the office. He noticed at once that Otto was not alone and that the Hptm that owned the parked staff car outside was with him. Willi snapped his heels together and introduced himself, “Herr Ltn....Ltn Rossenstein reporting as ordered.”
“Thank you Willi..... Willi this is Hptm Wimmer from Stofl. He's here to collect intelligence about the new enemy aircraft that we have encountered since the Big Push on the Somme. Tell us again about the 2-seater Scout's that Tommy now has would you.”
“Um, well yes Sir. We were taken by surprise the other day. For you see we were already attempting to get at two older Caudron's that we had found lurking around are third lines. When from the north came three more 2-seater aircraft. At first I beleaved them to be also on a Recce. And then they fell in among us. First glance and I could only see the rear gunner as being armed. But then I saw the tracer fire spitting out of a MG firing through the air screw. Firing forwards. Tommy must also have an interrupter gear for his aircraft now.” Willi looked at Otto, unsure as just how far he should proceed.
“And you fought this man Ltn.Rosenstein ?” asked the Hauptmann.
“Jawohl Herr Hptm.”
“And what do think of him, his scout Ltn?”
“Tommy is always a pugnacious fellow Herr.Hptm. But that's his fault. As for this 2-seater scout of theirs....well, you see”
“Get on with it man, don't you dare hold back now. I need to know.” said Hptm.Wimmer. “the Truth!”
“The truth is sir, she's a better machine Sir! It's faster, turns better and can fire in both directions too Sir. Her front gun must be belt fed, so no stopping to replace a #%&*$# magazine. If his passenger is any good then the normal attack from the rear is almost pointless Sir. And if I'm to be frank Sir.” “Yes, why not Ltn.”
“The truth is, our machines, and I mean all of them, are under powered. The Enemy can dictate when to attack and can retire if need be. God knows how the Fokker Staffeln are to fight these newer aircraft Sir. We need newer, better, faster aircraft SIR!”
“Danke Ltn Rosenstein, that will be all.” said Otto, trying to quickly dismiss his friend before things went too far. Willi curtly withdrew from the Office.
“Are all your men like this Otto?”
“No Herr Hptm. Willi is one the best I have. Their all good actually, but what he said is correct. We need better aircraft Sir, or our losses will get worse.”
“Don't tell me about losses Otto, have you read the casualty lists....for both sides? And the worst thing is Otto, The OHL looks at me, and tells me that the front soldiers are screaming at us for not doing anything about those annoying enemy aircraft calling in artillery bombardments all day! ...I'm not oblivious to our problems Otto, but you'll have to wait. Fokker says he's working on a biplane version of the EIII. And the boys at Johanistal also have something in the pipeline, but till then we have to prevent the enemy from lodging themselves over our trenches Otto. It's the cooperation aircraft that are priority Otto. So tell your men to stop wasting munitions on their scouts.”
“Still, I'm very proud of you and your men here at Bertincourt Ltn. Pass my best wishes around, you know, let them know that we appreciate all their sacrifice etc. Take care Willi, one day this will all end.” And with a one last salute from Otto, the staff car drove off to the next airfield.