9 August 1916
Achille Coppens
Quatrieme Escadrille (RFC 25), Belgium
Farman Pusher (F.E.2b) - Dawn Patrol at Abschnitt

With the sun rising over the hills around our field we took off - 6 of us in B Flight and 4 in A Flight flying top cover. Our assignment was once again a fighter patrol on the front lines directly to the west. Lt. Maurice De Hauwere lead B Flight, his first time in the role of flight lead. None of the pilots of B Flight were seasoned veterans, but A flight consisted of 4 proven aces to watch over us.

As we approached the lines at about 5500 ft there was activity everywhere. A contact approached us from our low 12 o'clock and then 2, then 4 contacts. As the closest contact came into view it became obvious it was one of ours - a biplane of considerable size, either a BE2 or a Strutter, I could not tell (too large for a fighter and it was not a Farman as it had a complete fuselage). Then quickly the 2nd contact came into view and it was a Fokker in hot pursuit! The other 2 contacts then came into view - two more Fokkers all in pursuit of our biplane. The procession passed about 1000 yards to our left just below us, and yet we did nothing. Could it be our new flight leader didn't see this?

As we reached our patrol destination there were contacts everywhere, but I couldn't make them out as friendly or enemy. B Flight pulled into tight formation with A Flight, about 500 yards behind and several hundred feet below them. I think our new flight lead had become nervous with all the activity and sought the protection of the aces watching over us.

We completed our patrol without event until the last circuit when a group of contacts began to close. I counted 7 dots in two groups. Not knowing what to expect my heart began to pound as they approached. Then at about 1000 yards I could make out the shape and cold grey fabric of the wings of 4 German biplanes! They passed directly over our head but seemed to not see us. The other dots right behind them were higher and I could not tell what they were, but they took no action so I assumed they were an escort. Neither the aces of A Flight nor B Flight did anything. Could it be that they, like I, feel that the Farman should not be flying in the role of a fighter? With no fixed forward firing gun, well proven in design now with the Fokkers and Nieuports, should the Farman be expected to attack other planes? Or would it be better suited for the role of recon and fighting only in defense...only time will tell.

Dogfighting is what you do "after" you drop your bombs and blow something up!
Can you say "JABO!" thumbsup