, great to hear from you. We miss you. Fullofit
, another Aldi story is a great pleasure. Tell Aldi not to fly for the Baron -- he'll poach your kills. Lederhosen
, great skin again. Can't wait to see your new screenies. Carrick
, you seem to have really mastered the Spad. Robert,
when are you home? I'll PM you soon because I'll be in your neck of the woods in late November.
Geoffrey Corderoy is still struggling to rack up a score of confirmed kills...
Diary of 2/Lieut. Geoffrey Corderoy, RFC
Part 11: 4 to 8 July July 1917
4 July 1917 – La Gorgue
It is good to be back. I am absolutely determined to prove myself here. It has been a month since I arrived here at 46 Squadron. Pilots have come and gone, and I have helped to bury two of my comrades, the latest being poor Kay – Kay, who had deserved a flight so much and had put up his third pip only a couple of days before his death. I am one of the fellows now, no longer a new face to be taken under one’s wing and cautioned to keep out of a scrap. When one arrives at a squadron, one sits near the bottom of the squadron table. We sit by rank here, although all the lieutenants mix in together. Already I have moved closer to the middle of the table.
Today rain and wind keep us grounded all morning, but Lee leads us up through drizzle and mist to Menen shortly after 1:00 p.m. It is a miserable patrol. We must keep under the low cloud and Archie gives us a difficult time. More than once my little Pup is thrown upwards by a near miss. After the requisite two hours Lee gives the signal and we return to La Gorgue and mugs of hot tea.
Big news tonight! We are to move south to Bruay, south of Bethune. We shall share the field with 40 Squadron and their Nieuports. We are beginning to feel that our Pups are past their prime, but Nieuports – my God, the poor chaps have drawn a short straw. A few of our fellows are being temporarily attached to the Nauticals at St-Eloi while their chaps ferry the new Sopwith “Camel” two-gun scout to the front to replace their Tripes. They flew Pups like ours last year before replacing them by Triplanes. Now they consider the Tripe to be obsolete! So we fly Pups and consider ourselves lucky not to have Nieuports…. And in the papers the people at home are complaining that the RFC let the odd Hun reach London. I suppose the strikers in England will want top cover from Camels and we shall have to nurse our Pups into 1918 or even 1919. Oh to be in Whitehall!
But I am going on. At Bruay we shall be under canvas, but at least we shall be rid of our frog pond. Tonight all the junior officers formed a work team to break down the mess and load our kit onto trucks. We then went across the way to share dinner as guests of Major Douglas and the lads at 43.
A couple of days ago, Lloyd Fleming downed a machine he took to be a Hun, but which turned out to be a Nieuport of No 1 Squadron. The pilot is dead and Fleming was called to do the hatless dance  at RFC HQ. There is speculation that the incident is part of the reason we are being moved farther south. Fleming is being packed off to the Middle East.5 July 1917
We took off in drizzle for Bruay and found a gap in the ground mists to head for Bruay. To our amazement we encountered a formation of Albatros DVs shooting up the roads nearby, which are crowded with Canadian troops. A wonderful scrap followed. Pups are totally outclassed by Albatri down low, but the fight was inconclusive and the Huns headed home, quickly drawing away from us.6 July 1917 – Bruay
Being under canvas in this sodden weather is a big step down from our warm huts at La Gorgue. We have raised a marquee tent for a mess and partitioned it to form an ante-room, but it is still rough going.
The weather begins to clear around noon and we are up after 2 pm with Joske leading. We are to shoot up a rail siding near Loos. Joske led us in. The ground Huns had far too many machine guns deployed for my liking, but we scattered a body of men and horses and left two sheds on fire. On landing, not one of our machines was without holes.7 July 1917
Up twice today, to cover our fields around Arras in the morning and to patrol the lines near Loos in the afternoon. The cloud is dense, and we see nothing.
On landing there is stunning news. Our squadron is to leave for England tomorrow. The politicians are in a bit of a panic over the big Hun Gotha bombers getting to London and we are to join Home Defence! The chaps are celebrating. Must confess to mixed feelings as I want to put up a score before leaving, but that is unlikely now.8 July 1917
There is one final flight this morning before we depart, an early show to dispose of a balloon south of Lens. Joske leads. I take station on the left flank of a vee of five Pups. The cloud is solid at 7000 feet and there are isolated rain squalls. We spread out and push through the cloud before reaching the lines. I hate flying in cloud. The water condenses and streams across the windscreen. Peering around the glass, one’s goggles are quickly streaming with water. And out there in the grey nothingness are four other Pups. I let my machine drift farther left and stare at the bubble and speed indicator, praying I stay level. I have known men to emerge from a cloud in a vertical dive without knowing they were about to rip their wings off.
When the mist lightens and suddenly falls away, the bright sunlight blinds me. I look about for the others. They are nearly invisible, about a mile off. I head west and open the throttle. There is a chance that I can find the balloon first. Perhaps I can score once before heading to England.
After ten more minutes I judge that it is time to begin my descent. I throttle back and ease down into the cloud layer. Minute follows minute until I pray that the cloud will clear before I fly into a house or a tree. I break through into a world of steel grey sky, mud, and rain. That is Lens off to the left. Down to 1500 feet, I am rocked by a cluster of Archie bursts. I skid right and scan the sky. As if my magic, there is the balloon, just a mile in front and slightly below. The trick with Le Prieur rockets is to dive on the balloon at a 45-degree angle and line the target up end-on. You let the things loose when the balloon fills the sights and hold the dive until they are all away. I climb to get farther above it and begin the dive, firing my Vickers. At 250 yards the rockets flash and stream down on the sausage. There is barely time to avoid flying into the thing.
I pull up and look back. The balloon is smoking but still hangs there. I turn about quickly, ignoring the Archie all about. On my next pass I start firing from 300 yards and the balloon bursts into flames within seconds. I do a roll over the Huns’ heads and climb back into the cloud, emerging a minute later into an empty sky. "On my next pass I start firing from 300 yards and the balloon bursts into flames within seconds."
Joske and the others never find the balloon. In the rotten weather no one has witnessed my kill and it goes unconfirmed. I am thoroughly browned off. Back at Bruay I discover that they have shipped my ladder off to England so I cannot get into my Pup because of my damaged knee. Ferrie is assigned the job of flying my machine to England this afternoon and I am driven to Calais to take the leave boat home to England.
I prepare for the trip with mixed emotions.
 43 Squadron RFC, flying Strutters, was commanded by Major Sholto Douglas, later 1st Baron Douglas of Kirtleside, GCB, MC, DFC. In WWII, Douglas became Deputy Chief of Air Staff and AOC Fighter Command.
 A court martial or summary trial. The accused is marched in at double-quick time and is not permitted to wear his headgear during trial.