Sunday 22 April 1917. Dawn patrol with 56 with me as the leader for the first (actual) time. Previous Leader assignment was a rain out. Quite murky under the clouds, and with the rising sun, but above the clouds we see the sun and, over the lines, a group of 4 or 5 Hun V-Strutters escorting some two-seaters a bit lower down. Knowing better then to focus on the two-seaters I try to lead my flight to a good position before ordering the attack on the Alb's but I misjudge our angles and get too close to the enemy and they react. So instead of a great position we are just in a "OK one" and I order the attack. This mission was a good lesson for me and taught me to be more careful with the Alb's. Probably save my life later as the lesson in caution was well learned. I pick out one and get a few hits but see tracers from my rear as one gets on my tail. Give a slight evasive move and try to get back on my target but the Hun does not give up and even scores a few hits! Do a better evasive move (a modified Split-S) and, when done, I see he is still on my tail! Now worried I go all out to shake him and cut my throttle and head almost straight down to a cloud. Dive thru it for a few seconds in zero visibility, pull out, put on the gas, and emerge from the cloud in a off-set rear position on my pursuer. Lucky! I close and he tries to turn but my shooting is good and he goes down. Victory #9 in the dim light and murk under the clouds.
While I watch him crash tracers light up all around me. I clear my tail but see nothing then realize I am over the German trenches. They may not show well in this pic but on the lower right the Hun gunners are trying to avenge their loss with a firework display of tracers. They shoot well and I take a couple of hits.
Turn for home and, after several moments, realize my engine is not producing full power and checking my instruments, realize I have a coolant leak. Lucky I am not 5 miles in Hunland but in friendly territory and just manage to crawl to the nearest emergency field, land, and hit a tent hanger but lucky I was going so slow it just brings me to a full stop. Whew. No losses for B Flight and several Huns are claimed. A lot of luck here!