After spending a good fortnight or so at a place called "XXXXXX Farm" near XXXXXX, (We called it Mutton Farm since that was all they ever served in the mess) I've finally arrived in France, or am I in Belgium? (Geography was never my strong suit as you well know and who cares anyway, one bloody wog country is the same as any other to me) Anyway, the point is I'm here, at the front, at last!
I'm afraid my first two flights haven't particularly endeared me to my fellow aviators in number 1 Squadron, RFC but more on that later my dear, firstly I must tell you about our beastly billet. They've put us up in some grim old place called XXXXXXX Asylum (Which nobody can pronounce so we call it "Billy-O" Asylum), supposedly the last inhabitants were somewhat compromised in terms of their sanity, little has changed, so the witticists say, but that the uniforms are much sharper now. I've had a bit of a poke around the place while the mechanical people organised a plane for me and there are all kinds of strange rooms or cells about the estate, most of them are full of RFC gear now but I shudder to think of the poor souls that must once have inhabited them howling at the moon on a frosty froggy night eh! A far cry from the endless plains of Australia what? My dear girl, did you know that we customarily let the loonies wander out into the desert and sort themselves out? Much cleaner and safer for everyone you see, the desert tells no tales my silly, dear little tulip.
I went for a wander of my own but of a different kind earlier today, across the jolly lines to see Master Fritz himself can you believe it. Not that I could see much mind you, we were up at 8,500 feet and there was a fair bit of cloud about but I could see little flashes here and there along the front (Which is mile upon endless mile of shell craters! You wouldn't believe that so many cannon shells could ever have been produced, let alone wasted on digging up swathes of French farmland.)
Before I go on I suppose I should tell you that today was my second sortie, my first met with ignominy at the hands of my own eagerness I'm afraid. On that day I was awoken early in the morning and informed that we were to head over the lines "toot sweet", as the French say, with a deliver of high explosive for the minions of the Kaiser. Unfortunately in the half light and concurrent rush to be airborne I didn't glean a particularly good grasp of the mechanical arrangement whereby such explosive material was to be detached from the aircraft and concurrently delivered by bombs to a nearby French cow paddock rather than the front-line German trenches as intended.
My salvo had the mixed fortune of abruptly terminating the life of the sole occupant of the field, one elderly french cow, much to the chagrin of the frog bloke who owned it and who came knocking even before I had landed demanding extravagant compensation for the loss of his bovine chattel. Sir Salmond (That's our Commanding Officer and a right frosty gentleman he is too!) was having none of it and sent the fellow away with half a crown and a set of ears burning from a lecture about how we must "all tighten our belts and do our bit against the Bosche". After the Frenchman had been ejected from the CO's office I was gestured inside by the Adjutant and so I marched in, stopping before his desk and saluting as smartly as I know how, feeling all the while as though my stomach was trying to crawl out my ears. His lordship didn't appear to be overly phased by my misadventure however, he simply asked me what had gone wrong and I explained to him that I had been testing the security of the position of the bomb release wire when the aircraft had hit a patch of rough air, the rest is history. "Not a good start Sergeant, be more careful next time" was all Sir Salmond said but I got the feeling that a few of the chaps were laughing up their sleeves at me in the mess that night and I'm sure I heard a muffled "Moo" or two being emitted, along with sidelong glances and chuckles at my expense.
That brings me to today where I actually had a chance to take my silly little aeroplane across the lines and try chucking another set of bombs at the Jerries. Mind you, I don't call it a silly little aeroplane for no good reason my darling. They call the ridiculous thing a "Morane Parasol" which, to me, sounds more like a french whore's accoutrement than a proper name for an aeroplane. Back at Mutton Farm we flew the good old Quirk which is as solid and dependable a machine as the day is long but this Parasol is a dicey thing. (This is what what happens when you buy second hand rubbish from the bloody frogs.) Sitting inside the thing I can only see forwards and a bit below and too the sides since the cockpit is directly underneath the wing and behind me the observer obscures all but the slightest view of what is going on to the aft of the wheelhouse, so to speak. My observer is a solid chap though, a Captain named Walter. Goodness only knows why the gave me a Captain to ferry around! I'm lucky he's a fairly happy-go-luck sort who doesn't go in for standing on ceremony. "Just pay attention to what's going on around you and do your job" Captain Walter says and I agree with him whole heartedly.
But I digress terribly my dear, the night draws on and the candle grows short so I shall expedite the narrative!
We took off for some place named XXXXX (Which, once again, nobody can pronounce) as there is a major offensive there right now and the Huns amassed at XXXXXX need to be bombed regularly. This time I managed to keep the bombs attached to my grid until the requisite moment and everything went famously! I think I might have even hit the right side of France which is a relief to agriculturalists everywhere I'm sure. I must say however that it was a dashed difficult flight to the lines, what with the bombs and a full load of fuel on board I had considerable trouble keeping my craft in proper trim. I wandered across the path of A flight once or twice during the show and Captain Walter treated me to a good, hard clout across the noggin each time. (He's only easy going in matters that don't involve direct threats to his health and safety you see?)
Well we made it home in one piece anyway and some sport from the trenches actually took the trouble to call up and tell us that we'd done a marvelous job apparently, knocking out a couple of machine gun emplacements or some such so we're off to town to celebrate before the next show. Speaking of which I'd best start getting ready bu before I do my love, never fear. No French harlot will turn the eye of your beloved Sergeant "X", nor will Hunnish shot or shell impugn his valorous and holy crusade in the name of the might of the British Empire. Expect to hear from me again as soon as I a have time to write, I'll try to send a letter a month.
Lovingly yours; in body, mind and soul,
P.S. Whatever you do don't show this letter to ANYBODY! Especially not your parents, the musn't know we speak like this too each other, they wouldn't understand.
P.P.S I'll be wearing my wedding ring very openly tonight and ever onwards. I keep it on a chain around my neck when I fly just to be safe.
Let's pretend I got the BWOC badge to embed here.
Wenn ihr sieg im deine Kampf selbst gegen, wirst stark wie Stahl sein.