Ofz. Ambrose Straub FFA 48; Aviatik B.I June 21, 1915
Have you ever met someone who so annoyed you that you didn't even bother trying to be pleasant or friendly? That is me and Flieger Hans Adam.
I transferred to FFA 48 in Alsace, figuring that if no one is going to give me or my observer a gun, I might as well enjoy the scenery. I arrived at Habsheim on the 18th and tried to make introductions to my new kommandant, Offizierstellvertreter Sandleitner, but Herr Sandleitner was still adjusting to the idea of running his own squad and could not be spared.
I spent the 18th flying around and admiring the sites. We are in an open area south of the forest at Colmar not far from where the Rhine enters Switzerland. I flew 'real' missions on the 20th and 21st. They seem to consist of reconnsaisance along the lower end of the Maginot Line to make sure the French don't try anything too awkward. Unlikely given the nature of the terrain.
In the first we flew near Belfort. I had three fliegers in company including Adam. As we didn't see anyone and still had fuel available, I chose to fly to the Swiss border and work our way back. Adam took exception to that, and while at mess that night he shared his unfavorable impression of Prussian hunters and their desire to dig in every little hole.
I replied that I wasn't Prussian, and I didn't have a favorable impression of his face. I would be pleased to rearrange it for him. Sandleitner made me stand down, but he sounded more amused than offended.
I know Flieger Adam talked to him, for the next morning I found he had his own flight while I would still lead the other fliegers. I avenged myself by forcing him to polish the cowl of my engine before we lifted off. Rank has certain advantages. It only occurred to me later that I gave him cause and opportunity to sabotage me, but neither happened.
It was just as well he was on his own, for I asked my observer, Papenberg, to take some pictures for me. They're a little blurry and grainy, but I like them:
This is soon after liftoff. Notice how the Alsacians are very civilized about surrounding their plots with trees and not those nasty titanium fences favored in Flanders.
This is the airfield just west of Colmar. Last night we listened in horror as Sandleitner told us how a pilot lost power just after take off and sailed into the trees.
The foothills are simply beautiful. I hope to explore them on foot someday.
We were so low over the French lines that machine guns blazed everywhere. No hits thankfully. I was more worried about sailing into the hills.
On the way home I skimmed over a lake to the southeast that I believe runs into the Rhine. There is a great rail bridge leading into Germany proper.
That evening Sandleitner let me know that Flieger Adam had been captured, apparently forced down over enemy trenches. I should be sorry for the man. Or humbled about how fragile we all are in this great cataclysmic war. I'm neither. If he escapes, fine. If not, perhaps I will appreciate his replacement more.