June 7, 1916

After joining RFC 23, I was assigned to a flight of F.E.2bs on a patrol behind the front lines.

Everything went fine: Our flight of four began heading north, while another flight of three trailed behind. I made conversation with my observer, Captain Scudsworth, since otherwise I'd just be sitting there trying to pilot while staring at his head.

Suddenly a Fokker E.III swooped out of NOWHERE on top of A flight. He must have been in the clouds. My lead didn't react. A flight's lead didn't react! He just dove in, snapped up one of our F.E.2bs, and seemed to leave.

On the return leg he returned, nibbled on 'A' flight a little then began a determined push to catch us. Still my lead didn't react. I didn't want to chance fighting this guy, so broke formation and began climbing away...which turned out to be a mistake, as Herr Fokker found that very interesting.

Still, I was doing a fair job keeping ahead of him until I noticed a plane heading towards me from the front: A Roland C.II. Pretty soon he was trying to figure out how to get a shot on me, I turned to defeat his gun resolution and here comes the Fokker.

I broke into a dive to try and get away, but one of them got a good solid burst into my tail. Nothing major hit, just enough to convince me it was time to land. I began a downwards spiral, not dissimilar to a normal landing, and the tight turns seems to defeat them. As we drifted downwards I saw a whole squad of birds ahead fighting...somebody. More Rolands. No, I definitely didn't want to join that party.

I landed hard: Afraid of fences, I made a sharp last second turn and hit wing first. Fortunately I got my wheels under me and skidded to a stop. Still alive, still uninjured, still free. Not bad.