Well, it's been a long and exhausting two weeks since I got to St. Pol. I believe Thayer and myself have really bonded into a fine team, though, I was really frustrated with the lad on the 10th, but I'll get to that in a bit. The rest of lads all seem to be a professional lot. We have normally been flying two sorties a day and I don't know if that's a normal schedule or not, what I do know is at the end of the day I'm very tired and I've been retiring early. I've met an interesting fellow named Alvin, rather quiet and keeps to himself in the mess. I think I'll see if I can strike up a conversation with him the next time we're together. I imagine there is quite an interesting story behind that quiet facade.
Well enough of the chit-chat sort of stuff, let's get right to the action, shall we. I know that what we do is vitally important to the chaps in the trenches and I know that our work makes a difference in this bloody war, but if I don't ever have to go on another photographing sortie, I'll be happy as a lark. They are dreadfully dull, we fly up to the front, circle over some spot on the front lines and then fly back home. In the two weeks that I've been flying I've seen three Hun aeroplanes and they were quite a distance off from us. That all changed on the afternoon sortie on the 10th and both the morning and afternoon sorties today. First let me describe the action on the 10th, we had flown to the front for one of our photo sorties, which we had completed successfully and we turned for home. As we were proceeding, I saw a single Hun machine flying in the opposite direction back toward the front. I had the craziest of notions and I turned to pursue the Hun. In the meantime, I told Thayer of my intention and he seemed game, so on we flew. In a short time, I had positioned myself in front of the Hun roughly 50 meters ahead, but Thayer just sat there. I signalled him to fire, but nothing happened. All of this time I'm jockeying our bus around to keep the Hun in position and avoid stalling, and nothing happened. Exasperated, I turned for home and said nothing the entire flight back. Once on the ground, I had a few choice words with Thayer, respectfully of course, the old boy does outrank me. He said some such nonsense of not having a clear shot. I was dreadfully worried that Thayer didn't have the metal for this game of ours. Well, let me tell you I couldn't have been more shocked by his behaviour in both of today's sorties. We took off at our usual time this morning for our usual photo sortie. When we arrived at the front I spotted two Hun aeroplanes approaching from the southeast and lower than our altitude. I was waiting for Lieutenant Epps to signal, but he continued with the mission at hand. I thought to myself, I'll give Thayer another opportunity. So, I dove and began to position myself in front of the trailing Hun aeroplane. I can only imagine what the Hun was thinking because he made no effort to prevent me from accomplishing my mission. Once in position, Thayer opened up like a whole hoard of Huns were attacking and before I knew what had happened the Hun aeroplane dropped a wing and plunged to Earth. I spun around and there sat Thayer with the biggest Cheshire cat grin I've ever seen.
We rejoined Lieutenant Epps and completed our mission and returned to St. Pol. After we landed, Lieutenant Epps ran over and started pounding on our backs exclaiming, "Bloody good show, old man!" over and over. After we filled out the necessary paperwork, I asked Thayer what happened, he laughed and said, "I told you I didn't have a good shot the other day." If that had been all that happened today, I would have been completely satisfied, but Thayer wasn't finished. In our afternoon sortie, which was of course another opportunity to take photos of the front, we arrived at our usual location and began taking photographs. This afternoon was quite busy with at least 6 Hun planes zipping around taking care of their business. As we were leaving, I saw a lone Hun flying over the front and I thought to myself 'Why not have a go at that old boy.' I informed Thayer of my intent, received a huge grin in reply and began to gently dive and position myself in front of this Hun. Once again, the Hun just sat and watched me getting into position. Could it be that the Huns don't know that we have Lewis guns up front with our observers? Anyway, once in position, Thayer began to fire that Lewis for all it was worth. This poor Hun burst into flames and began the long plunge Earthward. For a moment, I actually felt dirty for what I had done, it was like putting cattle down when it's slaughtering time. I turned to look at Thayer and he had that grin again, I wonder if maybe I've created a monster.
We landed and again Lieutenant Epps was overjoyed at our success. Needless to say, both claims were confirmed and we were quite the sensation at mess tonight. It does worry me a little that Thayer might be enjoying this business a little too much. Well, I'll wrap this journal entry up for today and retire. I'm sure I have another photo gathering sortie in the morning.
Member and provider of banjo music for the Illustrious BOC