Why they let me keep my rank of Captain is beyond me. Im not wholly comfortable with this whole business of flying and leading these poor sods into combat is so different from the trenches.
The chaps at RFC headquarters sent me to No. 46 Sqn on 1 Nov 17. We were all flying Pups (wonderful little aircraft), and had a full compliment of 15 pilots. The first week went well enough. I led several patrols over the front and even earned two confirmed victories. The lads were in high spirits and I thought that maybe we had the hang of this whole war.
It all changed when Sgt McHard's engine caught fire. From the moment of his death, our squadron has been cursed. Every time a flight takes off we lose somebody. By the time I scored my third and fourth victories, we were down to eight pilots.
Today the CO sent all eight of us up to attack a rail yard just east of Vimy. Myself and 2Lt Thompson had the only Camels, the rest of the boys using Pups. The flight started well enough and we reached the target without incident. It seemed we were the only aircraft in the sky. We broke of for our attack run and came in firing everything we had.
Just as we reached treetop level, six Albatross dove out of the clouds. It was a massacre. Four of my boys bought it before we could even react. Within a few minutes, three Pfalz joined the fracas and two more of our boys were down. 2Lt Thompson and myself fought a withdrawl and managed to make it back to our lines. I had to land in a field just behind our trenches.
The CO says it will be a few days before any replacement make it to us. What a disaster.