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#4349977 - 04/09/17 04:05 AM Re: REPORTS FROM THE FRONT [Re: Robert_Wiggins]  
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Originally Posted by Robert_Wiggins
Jimmy, I agree with Raine. You are putting up some dandy reports Sir! Keep it up, it's fine reading with my morning coffee.


Thanks chaps, sorry to be a lag on the writing front. Old Archie's taking a hiatus at the moment as I am busy with other things but I'll get back into the swing of it soon enough. I have my work cut out for me livestreaming and making videos among other things at the moment, never fear though, Archie, Alan and their mighty Fee are still with us, just waiting for me to be able to fit them in somewhere..


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#4350808 - 04/13/17 10:10 AM Re: REPORTS FROM THE FRONT [Re: Olham]  
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Ok, due to reasons Archie Berry has been retired from service.

Introducing, Augustin Kolb. Latterly an accountant in a small finance firm in Cologne, now undergoing training at Maubeuge airfield, Belgium.

March 25, 1916.

Maubeuge aerodrome and zeppelin yard Belgium.

Liebliche Marie,

I am writing to you from Belgium after a long week of obstructions, bad food and uncomfortable travel. When my approval for flight training was granted by the certification board I felt sure that the problems and obstacles standing in the way of me realising my dream of flying would be over but it seems that they were just the beginning. No sooner had I arrived at the aerodrome here than did the weather take a turn for the worse, we've spent the last few days huddled next to a coke stove in the hangars the learning theory of flight and cockpit drills. Our flight kommandant, Hauptmann Auslösers, is a strange man, very uptight and with a tendency to hysterical outbursts but at the same time he can be quite lax in a very ungerman way. We're not quite sure what to make of him and his strange and capricious attitude but being in his presence is unsettling to say the least since, although his behaviour is altogether eccentric his eyes tell a different story to his actions. I can see him summing each and every one of us up like a hawk surveys a mouse on the field far below him. Auslösers has no time for jests and expects immediate obedience and complete focus during his classes which can be difficult to maintain in the freezing cold, with a poor diet and considering that we are kept awake half the night by the background noise of the aerodrome at night and our fears and misgivings taking their toll.

After four interminable days of snow, shouting and sleeplessness I finally went aloft for the first time and I must tell you that it is a marvellous experience. The weather cleared enough for us to wheel out an Aviatik biplane onto the field. Every pupil got to experience flight from the observer's cockpit which is situated ahead of the pilot while the others watched on, keeping an eye out for a change in the weather and hoping that their turn would not be delayed (or that it would in some cases). I was fortunate enough to be first, Hauptmann Auslösers helped me to situate myself in the front cockpit, checked that I was correctly secured by the safety harness and then clambered in behind me. The preparation for the flight seemed to take longer than the flight itself, which was over in what seemed like no time at all. I was giddy with excitement when we left the ground, there was so much to look at all of a sudden, the long grey rectangle of the Zeppelin shed which dominates the landscape of Maubeuge like the great barn of some fantastical leviathan. A long column of 30 or so trucks were rattling along the road East out of the aerodrome at what seemed to me to be impossibly slow speed compared to the 140 or so kilometers an hour that we were travelling at and Forests, Marie, as far as the eye can see. To see such things defies description.

Many people report a feeling of airsickness, I had fretted about this but the problem never eventuated until the very end of the flight when Hauptmann Auslösers pulled back on the throttle to make the aircraft descent for landing, the sudden lurch downwards and the fact that we seemed to come very close to the trees below caused quite a turmoil in my stomach. I managed to maintain my honour for the remaining duration of the flight but upon being helped down from the cockpit I'm ashamed to admit that I disgraced myself by vomiting on the Hauptmann's boots. Expecting a blow or some harsh words from Auslösers I flinched, looking up sheepishly at his sharp, fair skinned face. He was grinning broadly, obviously trying not to laugh.

"What do you think Flieger Kolb? Is flying the game for you?"

"Jawhol Herr Hauptmann!" I blurted out, straightening myself and wiping my mouth in an attempt to regain some dignity.

"Gut, we'll go up again then this afternoon, go have some breakfast." and then he did a strange thing, he slapped me on the back and cried "Hals und Beinbruch!". I'm not sure what that means yet but I did feel as though I had passed some kind of test.

[Linked Image]
Maubeuge Zeppelin Shed housing L.30.

[Linked Image]
Aviatik with Hauptmann Auslösers at the controls


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#4350829 - 04/13/17 11:31 AM Re: REPORTS FROM THE FRONT [Re: Olham]  
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Just as an interesting little addendum:

German Triggers got Flieger Kolb killed on his second orientation flight. Useless idiot crashed into the trees on the approach to Maubeuge and killed them both. Luckily I intervened and taskmanagered Kolb back to life but the gods were angry at me for abusing time travel to resurrect him and gave me a black screen at the end of my next orientation flight (Which I landed personally from the front seat since I no longer trust German Triggers with Kolb's safety.) Finally, when I reloaded the game, the campaign had been corrupted somehow so I have been forced to battle these arcane and generally unfair attempts by some malevolent force to terminate Flieger Kolb's career prematurely by plugging him into "Der Matrix". In the space of two days he has been resurrected, re-enlisted and manually redeployed to KEK West (Jasta 12) Where he occasionally has strange dreams about being in a blank white room with Lawrence Fishburne while some mysterious force teaches him Kung Fu, how to roll his own sushi and the peculiarities of flying a Fokker E.II.

Flieger Kolb is not sure why the universe hates him so much but he feels as though a benevolent force (whom he imagines as being a tired, bearded man with sad eyes, illuminated by the glow of some arcane device through which he monitors the universe and watches over Kolb) is mitigating the worst of what malevolence an unfair and capricious universe throws at him.

Last edited by Ace_Pilto; 04/13/17 11:32 AM.

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#4350863 - 04/13/17 01:31 PM Re: REPORTS FROM THE FRONT [Re: Olham]  
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Flieger Augustin "Boots" Kolb KEK West (Jasta 12) Vivaise, Marne Region, France.

27th Mar 1916, 1030hrs.

Liebchen,

It's only been few days since my last letter but I wanted to tell you that I have made my first successful operational sortie and seen, with my own eyes, the Western Front. The weather here is terrible, worse than it was at Maubeuge even, and I spent the best part of an hour over the lines patrolling one of our observation balloons being buffeted and thrown about by the March winds. I am completely exhausted and the nip of schnapps that is partaken of by all pilots on returning a patrol is making me sleepy so I will try to write quickly before I retire to my quarters to take a nap before lunch. 5 aircraft took of from Vivaise, Fokker E.II's and E.III's (Although I can't tell the difference between them yet, they all look the same). I have been assigned an E.II and, after the old Aviatik, it doesn't seem like there's much aircraft between me and the outside world.

It's bitterly cold here and I reek of whale grease and lanolin, substances we use to prevent frostbite. I have to wear so many layers of clothing that I need two men to assist me in finding the stirrup with which I must mount my aircraft and lift me aboard. You know how I never liked the cold, well, I can tell you that this place is hell but it is also fascinating. As I said our patrol took us within sight of the lines and I saw them, a wilderness of pockmarks and snow that stretches beyond imagining. The perverse absurdity of such massive destruction is fantastic, I cannot fathom how we as a species have come to this when I recall the few brief glimpses I got of that hell between struggling with my Fokker in the gusts and turbulence. Four of us set off, with another in reserve for top cover and for most of their flight we struggled along through the icy blasting of the French March wind. At one point I looked to my left and saw that an aircraft was missing, Leutnant Laack. He was with us one second, gone the next. We continued on, I learned what became of Laack later but his absence filled me with dread and, as though to mirror my apprehensions, the weather closed in half way through our flight. I felt as though I were lost in a forest, a forest in which I was very much a stranger but the other two Fokkers soldiered on and so I stayed with them.

It's very hard to see anything below you in the Fokker E.II, the broad wing hides the ground most of the time and I soon realised that I had precisely no idea of where I was, I just followed and followed for what seemed an age until the flight leader suddenly turned and descended. During our descent I saw ahead of us a distant aircraft. Initially I thought it may have been French but our course and the descent told me otherwise, it was our top cover aircraft, we were on the way home. The weather cleared a little just as we neared home, enough for me to see from the position of the sun that we had been up for an hour. I couldn't even see the airfield until we were right over the top of it, somehow it had hidden itself under my wing, so I have a lot of catching up to do in order to be a competent and useful pilot around here. Anyway, I was pleased to find Leutnant Laack waiting for us in the duty room, he had even stoked the stove for us and for the first time in forever I started to feel my circulation returning. It was painful but I daren't show it since we all suffer the same and Leutnant Laack's story of engine failure and his glide back to base made me feel as though my trials for the day had been minimal to say the least, he could very easily have been killed but he is an experienced pilot with 4 victories already!

We seem to have enough to contend with against the elements and our own aircraft here dear Marie, adding the increasingly hostile French aircraft to that equation is something that causes me grave concern. I am keen to hear from Laack about his victories and stories of fighting the French machines but he is taciturn and sometimes hard to approach, perhaps in time he will open up and divulge a little but I must be tactful.

Tschuss,

Augustin.

[Linked Image]

Leutnant Laack silhouetted against the sun and sky shortly before his engine failure.

[Linked Image]

Life at Vivaise, taken after landing.


Last edited by Ace_Pilto; 04/15/17 01:10 AM.

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#4350995 - 04/14/17 02:26 AM Re: REPORTS FROM THE FRONT [Re: Olham]  
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Ace Pilto;

I am enjoying your reports immensely Sir! Prime reading with my morning coffee! You have a real talent for writing! Keep them coming!!


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#4351201 - 04/14/17 09:34 PM Re: REPORTS FROM THE FRONT [Re: Olham]  
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Thanks RW, consider yourself one of my sources of inspiration for giving it a go. Old Flieger Kolb is kind of a dress rehearsal in a sense for a larger work I'm planning and also for participation in one of the great historical challenges you guys have going.


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#4351217 - 04/15/17 12:11 AM Re: REPORTS FROM THE FRONT [Re: Ace_Pilto]  
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Originally Posted by Ace_Pilto
Thanks RW, consider yourself one of my sources of inspiration for giving it a go. Old Flieger Kolb is kind of a dress rehearsal in a sense for a larger work I'm planning and also for participation in one of the great historical challenges you guys have going.


Ace;

You use fine descriptive phrases that paint the picture well. I should have such talent! The are a few writers on this forum I aspire to, three of which are Four of which are RAF_Louvert, Raine, Lederhosen and now yourself. There are others as well, but these four set the bar for me personally. Lou is pretty much on the road these days and modding so has little to contribute to the tales of the DiD. Raine is also away in old Blighty on family business, so you and Lederhosen are now the men! Thanks again for your contributions, and I look forward to any of your renderings!

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#4351221 - 04/15/17 01:37 AM Re: REPORTS FROM THE FRONT [Re: Olham]  
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Well it's always motivating to have such a gracious audience Rob, I'll try to keep Kolb alive long enough for his story to evolve.

As such Flieger Kolb's latest jaunt was a cross country navigation flight to Sissonne, Guignicourt and Bruyeres-et-Montberault and back. There is little to report except that the front is quiet and snow is still on the ground. Right now a long hot soak in the bathtub rates highest among Kolb's list of dreams for the future.

I do have a very good time while flying with Kolb, he is my complete immersion character so I fly very differently when I have him active. After his last flight I just sat on the airfield and waited for A flight to return and, during that time I sat and waited I noticed that some genius had given the ambient soundtrack the faintest hint of a gramophone playing in the distance (or maybe that is my overactive imagination) anyway, we sat there in the weak sunlight under the watery blue sky until the buzz of rotaries announced that both of A flights machines had returned and I watched them spiral down and land. One of them came down a little hard, bouncing over the grass and snow, the other made a smoother job of it and rolled to a neat stop beside the first. I daresay Kolb is feeling pleased with himself for finding his way around the waypoints and getting a cheeky look at the front while doing so.

Not worth a letter to Marie but that's the latest news from Vivaise.


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#4351734 - 04/17/17 09:22 PM Re: REPORTS FROM THE FRONT [Re: Olham]  
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The snow at Vivaise slowly gave way to rain, icy slush and mud began to make life difficult for everyone.

A machine broke it's tether and embedded itself deep in the thawing ground after a brief uncontrolled flight caused by a sudden gust of wind. It took a team of men to dig the machine out and smooth over the rut that was left as best they could but that part of the field would be a danger until the ground was once more firm enough to be rolled flat. Kolb and his compatriots spent most of their time trying to get warm around one of the many coke stoves scattered around the airfield and flying was restricted to local patrols only since the threat of the weather closing in and leaving a flight with nowhere to land was too great. There was no sign of the French in the sector and the "Hours Total" column in Kolb's logbook was slowly increasing.

The only sign Kolb has seen so far that there was really a war hidden among all this bad weather was anti-aircraft fire. Dirty white puffs of explosive appeared in the sky on one patrol over the lines and were replaced by black puffs upon crossing the lines. Kolb had heard of the difference between German shells and those used by the enemy and the sight of black smoke in the air caused him to scan the air vigorously, banking too and fro and craning his neck to cover as much sky as possible. The sight of german anti aircraft shells bursting all around convinced Kolb that there may have been a French machine in his immediate vicinity but it was not the case. No machine revealed itself. Kolb asked Leutnant Laack about the flak, Laack laughed.

"They were probably aimed at us dear Kolb"

Kolb supposed that it was possible for the German gunners to have glimpsed their machines above and failed to correctly identify them as friendly but to open fire without certainty seemed to him irresponsible to say the least and potentially a downright dereliction of duty!

"Nevermind Kolb" Said Laack, poking at the stove in a half hearted attempt to coax more heat from the coals. "Just mark the area on your map and be careful over there in future, never expect everyone to do the right thing all the time. This is war, not a parade."

That night Kolb dreamed of Marie receiving a telegram telling her that her husband had been killed by his own side's flak. She burned the telegram in a stove identical to the ones on the airfield. The creak of the hinge as she closed the stove door awoke Kolb abruptly and he saw the dim silhouette of Laack crouched over the stove in their quarters. They'd moved into the same room. Rain drummed on the roof as Kolb's wits slowly gathered themselves to lucidity.

"The flight commander wants us up in an hour, better get moving Kolb."

"What's the fuss?" Kolb asked

"Airfields, we're on defensive patrol. HQ thinks the French may try to send some planes through the muck to snoop." Laack handed Kolb a cup of coffee.

"It's the good stuff, someone found a sack of real coffee beans. Deserving of a Pour le Merit in my opinion."

Kolb grinned and drank.

*****

The patrol was nothing particularly eventful. Laack, Kolb and the Flight commander who went by the nickname Kobes bounced around in the grey wilderness for over an hour while A flight lingered in the air 2,000ft above them. Kobes was a good formation leader, conscientious about the ability of his flight to keep pace and never one to linger in the air when conditions were poor in the vain hope of sighting an enemy. In fact the clouds were so numerous and thick that the entire French air force could have been aloft and B flight would have been none the wiser. Eventually Kobes led the formation back to Vivaise where they spiralled down out of the grey and gingerly alit upon the treacherously slushy ground of the field without mishap.

It was the last day of March.

[Linked Image]

Kolb, Laack and Kobes being fired upon by "friendly" flak.

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#4352050 - 04/19/17 10:42 AM Re: REPORTS FROM THE FRONT [Re: Olham]  
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2 Apr 1916.

Kolb landed at Vivaise and steered his Eindecker toward the canvas hangar where his rigger and fitter Werner and Klaus were waiting, he switched off the engine and sat staring blankly at the instrument panel. Werner and Klaus could tell something was wrong, usually Kolb couldn't get out of his machine and in front of a stove quick enough but today he just sat there, not moving. Werner and Klaus shared a concerned glance and approached the machine to see if Kolb had been injured or if he was ill.

"Are you ok sir?" Klaus asked.

Kolb said nothing, just stared forwards.

"Sir?"

Klaus placed his foot into the stirrup of the machine and swung himself up alongside Kolb, placing a hand on his shoulder and shaking him gently. Kolb flinched and stared at Kaus, his eyes slightly unfocused.

"Sir! We thought you might have been wounded, are you alright sir? Where's Leutnant Laack?"

It hadn't even occurred to Kolb on the flight home that he would have to be the one to announce the bad news, Laack was dead, hit aircraft had been hit by flak while attacking a balloon a few miles SW of Soissons, it had all been over faster than it takes to draw a breath.

"Was hier passiert?" called an approaching, authoritative voice. It was Hauptmann Meinecke, he'd seen Kolb land alone and ridden a bicycle across the field to ask Kolb what had happened.

"We don't know sir, he seems to be-- frozen."

"Step down."

Meinecke produced a silver flask from his hip pocket and fumbled with the lid, he proffered it up to Kolb, waving the opening beneath his nose. Kolbs blue eyes slowly wandered down toward the flask and then his hand reached for it. He took a draught and handed it back to the Hauptmann.

"Where's Laack Kolb?"

Something uncoiled in Kolb, his frozen, upright posture relaxed as he spoke as though ice were sliding from his veins.

"He's dead Herr Hauptmann, flak got him."

They'd taken off together early that morning, accompanied by the usual grey clouds and rain. It had been a day just like any other . It had even looked like it might clear up at one stage of the flight with the sun peeping through the overcast at broken intervals but it was all an illusion. The sun only wanted to watch the show. After reaching Soissons Kolb had led them both down through an opening in the clouds, they were hunting a balloon which had been directing a particularly troublesome artillery exchange to the north. The balloon was reported to be alongside the road out of Soissons by about 5 miles and the pair were following the road at 4,000ft to find out if it was still there. It was there alright, Laack saw it first. Kolb had been too high to attack but Laack was in perfect position, he dove for the balloon and Kolb watched as the dirty grey clouds of flak appeared around Laacks machine, one of them materialised near enough to touch Laacks Eindecker and Kolb gasped, the Fokker twitched and then plunged headlong and uncontrolled toward the grey gasbag with Laack slumped at the controls. The machine and the balloon merged and a brilliant orange glow momentarily lit the underside of the overcast in the immediate area while Kolb watched, horrified, circling above and staring in disbelief as the tangled remains of the balloon and Laack made their way earthward, entangled perversely like a pair of doomed, blazing lovers. Kolb was reaching the end of recounting Laack's demise when the sound of an inline engine made them both pause and be silent.

"Ours or theirs Herr Hauptmann?"

"I'm not sure Kolb, there is a unit of Aviatiks over at Sissonne, maybe one of them could have gotten lost. Stay in your machine, with A Flight still away you might have to take off again and chase it if it turns out to be French."

Kolb nodded and they waited, along the front to the south some cannons began roar but the engine noise was still audible between the screech and boom of the shells. Among the increasing din Kolb fancied he heard the distinct 'Thwack-thwack" of flak shells, Meinecke also heard it and he glanced sharply at Kolb.

"Start her up!" he cried to Werner and Klaus who had been waiting at a polite distance, hoping that they would be allowed to wheel the machine in out of the rain before lunch. Now their thoughts of lunch were forgotten as they rushed to restart the engine. The engine should have started immediately, it was still warm from the morning's use but, for some reason, it refused to roar into life no matter how they cajoled and cursed it. The drone of the inline receded and, a few minutes after that the cannons fell silent again. Werner and Klaus were already probing at the engine.

"Bad luck Kolb, it seems as though you won't see your first French machine today." sighed Meineck. "Come on down and get something to eat, I'll need your report on Laack by this afternoon."

Kolb nodded, he dismounted and helped Werner and Klaus push the machine back into its' canvas hangar. He lingered while they clambered over her, manufacturing excuses to keep him on the field while he waited for A flight to return. Kolb knew he was putting off writing the report, he was hesitating because he knew that, once the report was written, it would be official. Kolb wanted a few more moments with Laack, remembering his long beak of a nose dripping with condensation over a steaming cup of coffee, his wry grin and especially the gentle and patient tone that Laack used when explaining something perfectly obvious to the neophyte Kolb.

The report, breakfast, Meinecke...

They could all wait until A flight returned.

[Linked Image]

Kolb above the clouds, returning alone from Soissons.

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#4352152 - 04/19/17 06:57 PM Re: REPORTS FROM THE FRONT [Re: Olham]  
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I hope you all don't mind me using this thread as my personal waffling space, I've become very invested in Kolb. almost 12 hours of flight time and we know all the clouds above the Aisne by their first names

Kolb had no time to mourn Laack, he was flying again after lunch. The weather cleared and he was sent to patrol over Rosnay, keeping an eye on the field for signs of enemy activity. It was an uneventful flight, Kolb spotted Kobes on the way to Rosnay and flew alongside him for a while. Flak greeted them when they arrived and they circled, climbed and dove to throw off the gunners aim. Kolb was quite busy evading flak, watching the field and scanning the sky, too busy to keep track of Kobes who vanished after a while, leaving Kolb alone over Rosnay with nothing but dirty white puffs of flak to keep him company. Kolb was starting to hate flak, the indifferent brutality of it and the knowledge that if a shell has your name on it then, the fact that it bears your name is immutable. Looking down at Rosnay Kolb could see the indistinct silhouette of a French machine on the ground, he didn't recognise the type but he took consolation in the fact that he had finally sighted his first enemy machine. Kolb left Rosnay and headed towards Reims, it was a short flight, 15 miles or so and it had occurred to him that there might be French machines aloft in the area, perhaps patrolling Guignicourt or using Reims as a staging point for a patrol. He thought he saw another machine over the lines but it was merely a balloon, the balloon reminded him of Laack so he flew away from it and headed for home.

*****

In the mess that night the emptiness of Laack's chair drew a few glances from the others but little discussion, Meinecke had told them what happened. They glanced at the chair occasionally, then at Kolb between mouthfuls of stew. Kobes, Kolb's flight commander broke the silence,

"Kolb, I heard that you took your training at Maubeuge under Hauptmann Auslosers?"

Kolb, who had been avoiding the gaze of the others fearing that he may be judged for returning alive when Laack, an experienced pilot with 5 victories, had not was surprised to be the object of curiosity and not resentment.

"Yes Herr Leutnant, I was at Maubeuge with Hauptmann Auslosers for flight training"

"Please Kolb, two 'Herr Leutnants' a day only, once in the morning and once at night ok. Between hours call me Josefs, survive here a month and you can call me Jacob."

The other two, Weiss, a white haired Balt from Peenemunde and Dombrowe a stocky Swabian chuckled, Meinecke smiled thinly.

"Is it true you puked on the Hauptmann's boots after your first flight?"

A tide of crimson flooded Kolb's cheeks, his ears began to tingle. He nodded.

"He took it quite well, I had them cleaned for him of course"

"Well, we shall have to call you 'Boots' then."

Weiss and Dombrowe erupted in gales of laughter, even the stern Meinecke tittered. Kolb listened to their laughter and noticed that It wasn't directed at him, it was laughter for the sake of having something to laugh at. It was infectious laughter and it swept Kolb away with it. Looking at their faces Kolb began to feel as though he were beginning to be accepted among this group of withdrawn, sardonic, often intense and penetratingly perceptive strangers.

"Did you know that Laack suffered terribly from nausea?" Kobes asked, Kolb nodded, Laack has confessed to him that he often felt queasy in even mildly turbulent air. The laughter slowly faded at the mention of Laack and Meinecke discretely gestured to one of the mess attendants. He whispered something to the man when he came over and the attendant promptly went over to the bar and brought back a bottle of schnapps and six glasses. He placed a glass before each man and the final glass in front of Laack's empty chair. Pouring a tot of schnapps into each glass as he went.

When the attendant was done, Meinecke lifted his glass. The room became silent.

"Hals and Beinbruch." He toasted, raising his glass toward the empty seat, the others followed suit and drained their glasses. Laack's glass stood untouched for the rest of the evening at his place. His ghost, if he had one, would drink it in Valhalla.

*****

3th April, 1916.

"#%&*$#." Kolb swore.

He didn't swear often but this was a unique circumstance. Kolb was at 5,000ft over Fismes and the sound of his own voice shocked him. It was strange to be able to hear it so clearly at this height and the hollowness of his single expletive seemed to resound among the absence of the usual clattering racket made by the Oberursel engine of his Fokker E.II which, at this moment, was silent having been starved of fuel. Apart from his own vocalised sentiment pertaining to the situation, all Kolb could listen to now was the whistle of the air through the bracing wires and the faint buzz of Kobes and Weiss' machines circling above him as he descended towards the Aisne. It was clear to Kolb that he would not be making it home to Vivaise that day, there was no way he could stretch out his glide to the brownish haze of no man's land in the distance. Distantly, the guns rumbled their agreement with Kolb's assessment.

Flak had been the culprit, over Rosnay. Kolb had been assigned to Sperrflug, watching over any two seaters operating in the area, and had reached his patrol sector only to find the air completely devoid of any two seaters to protect as usual so he had decided to snoop around Rosnay in search of French machines. The gunners had been waiting for Kolb, they didn't like having Eindeckers visiting their field and they had prepared for Kolb's visit by using trigonometry to estimate the cloud base and range their guns accordingly. Kolb had been surprised at the accuracy of the flak when he arrived at Rosnay and quickly turned away, but he had come too close. Kolb had heard the impact of shell fragments striking his machine and frantically slammed open the throttle and veered North towards safety, jinking, diving and climbing as he went. He escaped the barrage but the smell of petrol alerted him to the fact that his machine was in trouble, a glance at the fuel gauge confirmed it, his fuel was running out fast. Kolb climbed as steeply as he dared, knowing that he would need all the height he could get but it was no use, the lines were too far distant and the Eindecker was a reluctant glider. The thin, shining ribbon of the Aisne cut across the landscape below and Kolb decided that he at least would have to make it over the river if he were to have any chance of escape. He nosed the Eindecker down toward a flat looking field on the northern side of the river and steered his machine deftly between two stands of trees at the edge of his chosen landing ground.

Fortunately the field was quite large and, except for a gentle incline, relatively flat and well grazed. Kolb's machine rattled and bumped to a stop and Kolb sat for a moment waiting for a sign or an idea as to what he should do next. His problem was solved for him when a quintet of blue clad figures emerged from the trees along the riverside and pointed their long rifles at him. Kolb dismounted from his machine and they took him with them to an outpost where, after some animated jabbering and gesticulating, they pushed Kolb into a small shed and locked the door behind them while they presumably went to find an officer to interrogate him. The shed had one door, a table, chair. some shelves that were strewn with dusty tins and papers and one window that was closed over with wire instead of a window. Kolb sat on the chair and, much to his chagrin, a bolt of pain shot through his left buttock. Reaching down and expecting to have sat on a nail Kolb was surprised to find a ragged tear in the backside of his flying breeches and blood on his hand. The wound wasn't serious, the undercarriage strut had absorbed most of the force from the shell fragment and sent it spinning though the bottom of the Eindecker cockpit, the wicker chair and Kolb's breeches where it finished it's tumultuous journey by making a small nick in Kolb's backside.

Eventually an officer came to interrogate Kolb, his German was terrible and the man seemed more interested in the long black pipe that he had brought with him to smoke than he did in any of Kolb's replies. Kolb managed to impart to the officer that he was hungry and that he had been injured, the officer sniffed, prodded his pipe some more and agreed that Kolb should be seen to by the camp medical officer and then fed. They took Kolb to the infirmary where he was given a perfunctory examination and a small dressing for his battle honour and then they took him to the field kitchen where they served him some kind of gruel and stale bread. Kolb choked the stuff down and they marched him back to his cell shed when he was done. Kolb sat and waited, there was nothing for it he supposed, at least his backside wasn't aching too much but he felt as though a cushion would make sitting more bearable. Looking around the room Kolb spied a blanket on one of the shelves, that would provide some padding at least. He walked over to the shelf and reached for the blanket and, as he did, his hand closed over something hard and cold that had been left lying underneath it. It was the head of a claw hammer, the handle had long ago been broken and the broken tool must have sat abandoned in the shed for some time. None of the soldiers had thought to search the place it seemed or they had not been very thorough. Kolb eyed the glassless window and the wire that secured it, he could easily use the claw of the hammer to prise away the nails that had been hastily hammered in place to fasten the barbed wire across the gap and prevent egress via the window but Kolb would have to wait until night, or someone may see him. Kolb replaced the blanket and the hammerhead, went back to his chair and distracted himself from the ache of his buttock by praying that nobody came to move him from here until tomorrow.

His prayers were answered.

[Linked Image]
Kolb's machine in a meadow on the north bank of the Aisne.

Last edited by Ace_Pilto; 04/19/17 07:00 PM.

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#4352166 - 04/19/17 07:26 PM Re: REPORTS FROM THE FRONT [Re: Olham]  
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Ace I love your screenies and reports mate..brilliant stuff cheers


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#4352169 - 04/19/17 07:40 PM Re: REPORTS FROM THE FRONT [Re: Olham]  
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Another fine report Ace. You have some real talent there for writing. You have left us with a cliff hangar with this one. I look forward to each report. Glad to see Kolb has a chance to escape. I am very much looking forward to the escape story.


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#4352178 - 04/19/17 08:01 PM Re: REPORTS FROM THE FRONT [Re: Olham]  
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Thanks guys. I'm glad you're enjoying Kolb's story along with me. The whole glide down I was fretting that this would be the end, it was a tense few minutes for me, realising I would land inside the lines having never even seen an enemy machine in the air in my entire 12 hours of flight! Fortunately, for those of you who are following Kolb's adventure, the RNG gods were kind to me and Kolb does escape after spending two days as a guest of the French so Kolb will return.

Interestingly, his name derives from the word "Kolbe" which is the high German for a mace or war club as I found out today. Hopefully he will survive long enough to live up to his name by striking the foe rather than being renowned solely for his inadvertent befouling of German Triggers' boots.

Last edited by Ace_Pilto; 04/19/17 08:04 PM.

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#4352427 - 04/20/17 11:37 PM Re: REPORTS FROM THE FRONT [Re: Olham]  
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Great story, Ace! You have a true gift. I actually became a little choked up after reading about Laack's demise. Bravo, sir!

#4352470 - 04/21/17 05:54 AM Re: REPORTS FROM THE FRONT [Re: Olham]  
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Glad you're enjoying the tale Bob, it's good to know that I'm hitting the mark that I'm aiming for. (One of the great things about the internet, writing fiction has become performance art and is no longer having the life strangled out of it by greedy publishers.)

Anyway, back to Kolb...

Kolb watched the small patch of light that shone through the wire covered window make its' way across the floor and up the wall where, as the sun set, it eventually evaporated altogether. There was a sentry sat outside the door of the shed assigned to guard Kolb and Kolb knew that his best bed would be to work on the wire in the dark and while there was enough noise in the French army camp, which is where he presumed he was, to mask the noise that his efforts were sure to make. The camp obliged Kolb with plenty of opportunity to do this just this, it was fairly abuzz with activity. Tenders clattering and jolting up and down heavily rutted roads, columns of troops on the march, officers shouting and the typical hum of army life going on all around. The wood in the frame was also damp from the almost incessant rain of the previous week which had made it soft and workable. Kolb set to work when he thought it was near midnight and it took him no time at all to work the wire free from one half of the window. He'd work a nail loose, replace the hammer and blanket and creep to the door to listen for movement. Kolb knew that he had to take this one step at a time, if he was caught at the window he would certainly be moved, or worse, so his excessive caution was founded in his calculation that spending as little continuous time at the window as possible gave him the best chance of completing his task and making his bid for freedom.

Patiently Kolb continued his labours until the entirety of the barbed wire blocking the window fell free, then he rolled up the blanket, slipped the hammer in his pocket and climbed through the window. The night was especially dark, the French were careful not to show any light of a night time in case it drew the attention of a German bomber crew and this blackout meant that Kolb found it relatively easy to slip out of the camp and into a nearby wood where he rested for a few minutes to take stock of his possessions and situation. He had no food or water, his clothing was immediately recognisable as that of a flier but it concealed his uniform. He had his watch, the hammerhead and the blanket. Judging bu the position of the moon Kolb estimated that he had 5 hours to get as far as possible from the camp until someone noticed that he was missing so he took a bearing off of Polaris and started to walk north. He sensibly gave roads a wide berth but made a mistake in passing near some houses in search of water or food. His approach alerted a dog which began to bark, this barking started other dogs barking and Kolb instinctively turned and dashed towards the nearest stand of trees. He heard a voice call out in French followed by two blasts from a shotgun, the pitter-patter of shot falling through the leaves above him seemed to mock him for being such a fool.

It became clear to Kolb, as he walked and as he remembered the activity in the camp and the general disinterest displayed in him by the French that something was brewing here, the French seemed to be preparing for a push. If this was the case then they were sure to hunt him with vigour and determination, the realisation startled Kolb and he doubled his pace, trotting where he could safely see open ground in order to travel as far as possible. As Kolb blundered through the dark French countryside the sky began to lighten, the glow of dawn illuminated the eastern horizon and also illuminated Kolb's complete ineptitude in astro navigation, he had not been following Polaris at all, he'd been chasing Venus! Kolb's efforts had carried him in a wide arc around the camp and he was now further from the lines than he was when he started! The realisation sunk it's clammy claws into Kolb's gut and he felt the exertion of his efforts overtake him, he made his way to yet another stand of French trees and sank to the grass in exhaustion and frustration. Kolb knew it was hopeless, he couldn't hide with all the activity in the area and he had no uniform, no papers, no French, no food and no water. He might as well try to fly home on sheer willpower as persist in this folly. As Kolb sat beneath the Birches in which he had taken cover the glow of dawn grew brighter, a light mist began to form in the fields and a vague, dun coloured shape took for in the distant corner of the field.

Kolb wouldn't need sheer willpower to fly home at all, not if he had an Eindecker.

Coincidence, providence, call it what you will had led Kolb back to his machine and, upon careful examination there didn't even appear to be anyone guarding it! The urgency of preparations for the offensive meant that all men must be employed in that regard and Kolb's machine was not of sufficient priority to the French army as to warrant even a single picket. Kolb also remembered that the Fokker's auxiliary fuel tank might still contain enough fuel to get him across the lines, the feed mechanism had been damaged by the flak shell but it was entirely possible that to may still contain fuel. All Kolb would need to do was to remove some tubing from the main tank and splice the fuel lines to bypass the damaged valve. This work was simple enough and Kolb quickly had it done. It was time to start the machine.

This was a problem that Kolb had overlooked in his rush to fix the fuel line. He somehow needed to start the machine but usually this would be done with him seated in the cockpit. This would be a difficult task, in order to get the Oberursel running Kolb would have to prime the engine and swing the prop himself but, since the Oberursel only had a rudimentary throttle, the machine would begin to roll forward on the start setting if he was not in the cockpit to pull back the throttle and blip the engine after it had burned off the prime from the startup, in all likelihood the machine would run Kolb over and escape if he couldn't get to the controls fast enough. Kolb ran through scenarios in his mind, sitting on the cowling would be too dangerous, the machine would roll forward and might toss him off like a frisky colt on a cold morning. What Kolb needed was a long piece of string.

No! he had no string.

Perhaps wire would do the job? A bracing wire!

Using the hammerhead once again Kolb worked a bracing wire free from the rigging, it would be risky flying the machine in this condition but Kolb had no choice. He secured one end to the throttle and then wound it around through the wicker seat and trailed the slack back forward over the leading edge of the wing, using the control cables as a guide so that when he pulled the wire from the front of the aircraft the tension would return the throttle to idle. Grinning like a lunatic and humming to himself Kolb primed the engine, pulling the prop through several degrees until each cylinder was primed with fuel, then the rushed to the cockpit and switched on the magnetos. As he jumped down the crack of a rifle shot rang out and a bullet whined overhead, Kolb jumped, flabbergasted and looked up to see that a group of Blue clad figures, probably his erstwhile captors, were running across the field, rifles aimed in his direction, shouting and gesticulating to him to cease and desist. Kolb, despite himself and his predicament began to laugh. He leaped from the cockpit and rushed to the front of the fokker where he swung the heavy propellor with all his might and a prayer to the gods of the air. The engine crackled, spluttered and roared into life on the first swing and Kolb yanked hard on his throttle wire to avoid being run over. The Poilius were no longer running, they were still a good distance from Kolb and had decided that while he might be able to outrun them in his Fokker, he could not outrun their bullets which they sent fizzing and whining at Kolb, their shots were wild, spanging and cracking off of his machine, Kolb scrambled aboard the Fokker, discarded the wire from around the throttle and roared into the air. He was alive, he was going home and he could not stop laughing, in hysterics now he turned the machine about and flew it directly at the Poilous, watching them scatter and dive to the ground as the wheels skimmed mere inches over their heads. A line of trees loomed up ahead, Kolb hauled back on the stick and the obedient machine soared out of danger, leaving them swaying in it's wake. The amazed Poilius were too stunned to shoot anymore, they watched as the machine wobbled and jerked off into the distance. Kolb turned in his seat and waved goodbye to them, shouting into the slipstream as he did.

"Hals und Beinbruch you poor French bastards!"




Last edited by Ace_Pilto; 04/21/17 05:56 AM.

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#4352940 - 04/23/17 12:04 PM Re: REPORTS FROM THE FRONT [Re: Olham]  
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Ah Ha! Ace, you got me with that last story. I never suspected he would be escaping with his own craft! When he failed with his orientation I thought for sure he was going back to the internment camp. Good one!


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#4353027 - 04/24/17 02:39 AM Re: REPORTS FROM THE FRONT [Re: Olham]  
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Hehe, thanks RW. I tried to keep the Deus Ex Machina to a minimum but it's hard to contrive an escape scenario and keep it to a reasonable length without it. Hopefully Kolb can keep his machine from landing on the wrong side of the ditch in future because the narrative is going to get increasingly bizarre otherwise.


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#4353030 - 04/24/17 03:06 AM Re: REPORTS FROM THE FRONT [Re: Ace_Pilto]  
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Originally Posted by Ace_Pilto
Hehe, thanks RW. I tried to keep the Deus Ex Machina to a minimum but it's hard to contrive an escape scenario and keep it to a reasonable length without it. Hopefully Kolb can keep his machine from landing on the wrong side of the ditch in future because the narrative is going to get increasingly bizarre otherwise.


Ah, borrowing from Greek Mythology! A classical man I see!


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#4353113 - 04/24/17 01:56 PM Re: REPORTS FROM THE FRONT [Re: Olham]  
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Can you imagine it though? Kolb landed to be greeted by Jean-Claude and Pierre for the third time that week, they led him past the tunnel he'd dug under no man's land, past the airfield with the Nieuport he'd stolen last week and right past the camp with the prototype tank that Kolb had stowed away in on his last escape.

In other news, Kolb finally saw his first French machines, here's a teaser.

Funnily enough the encounter did leave him gliding back to earth yet again but on the right side of the lines this time.

[Linked Image]

Last edited by Ace_Pilto; 04/24/17 01:56 PM.

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