July 2, 1916

I've thought I might use Jim's idea for getting through the war: Namely, switch to the squad that killed your last character, and so forth. Well, since RFC 70 killed Albert, and they fly 2-seaters anyway...

Meet Bilbo Baggins, from some little known country town. Other than a strange desire to acquire rings and throw them into fires, he's no trouble to his new mates.

Guy Cruikshank (HA) led a flight of 6 Strutters to Toelus, east of Arras, to recon. We reached there, though one had to turn back due to a bad engine. We did have a minor scare when I spotted an enemy patrol flying low.

Later on I spotted two E.IIIs, but as they were near ground level and we were passing 12K, no one paid attention to each other.

I was getting a bit bored and swerving my way in and out of formation when abruptly Cruikshank dived, taking the flight with him. I scrambled in pursuit and learned they were in a 5:3 fight with Eindeckers.

I managed to get a few solid shots into Konstain Krefft (HA) making him veer a few times. He swerved under me and ran. I executed a wide turn to begin the pursuit. So did three of my companions. Boelcke would not have approved.

I fired a few more shots into him, but I spent half my time NOT shooting my companions and drifting out of their flight path. One of my friends passed me on the right and delivered the final blow that sent Krefft spinning to the ground.

Everyone turned back, but ahead I saw two dots. More Eindeckers, I assumed. We were down low now, about 3,000 feet, and I didn't want to get caught by surprise so went over to take a look. It turns out to be one E.III (Alfred Osterreicher HA) versus a Strutter, and Osterreicher had the advantage.

Well, I couldn't let that happen. I swung in behind the Eindecker and fired a steady stream into his rear. He swerved away. I chased him. And so forth.

Presently the battle dipped below 1,000 feet. I kept firing, making Osterreicher turn, but I just couldn't end it. Every time I considered letting him go, he used the breathing space to turn and try and engage my Strutter friend who was trying to help but wholly ineffectual. I'd dropped my throttle after a speed warning while diving into the initial fray, now I revved the engine fearing I'd careen into the ground.

Once we passed over a German factory, and I'm pretty sure someone on the ground pinged me. Not bad though.

The last Strutter turned back. It was just me and Osterreicher, some 10 miles behind the front lines at 700 feet. My patience paid off: Torn fabric. A few more bursts - I was down to 83 bullets. Osterreicher tried for a forced landing but couldn't hold it together and crashed.

Time to go home. I fled across the border, but saw no one else. My companions were already in landing patterns as I approached the field.

One mission, one kill.