December started off slow enough. Between the first and the 9th nothing of interest happened. The 9th, however, kicked off a 3 day ordeal with a balloon that really stirred the drink.
The morning of the 9th saw some new boys transferred in. One, 2Lt Chris Bliss I grabbed as my wingmate and we set off for a balloon bust just across the line.
Lt MacLaren joined us as our third and we reached the balloon without trouble. I popped the hun gas bag but received several new holes in my airframe for my trouble.
We returned safely and I filed my claim. We found out that the major was being transferred back to London! I was absolutely braced. We had a real smash up in the mess that night. The new chaps wished him well, but Thomson and I were more than happy to see him go. Our biggest question was who was going to come in to replace him.
We got our answer early the next morning. Fighting the effects of a fantastic hangover, I stumbled out to breakfast. While doing my best to get and keep down coffee and eggs, the duty corporal came over and gave me a message: General Trenchard was on his way. Blast it.
I had the Corporal wake up the men and formed them up to the best of their ability. It looked like someone had dug up the cemetery and stood up the dead on parade.
Trenchard had his driver stop in front of me and exited his vehicle, looking as displeased as ever. His eyes finally met mine and he walked over slowly.
I saluted as smartly as possible given the circumstances and said "Captain Canuck, Sir. Acting CO Number 46 Squadron, Sir."
His frown broke slowly into a grin and he asked if we had enjoyed last night.
He didnt wait for an answer before continuing on. "The reason I am here Captain, is to introduce the new CO of 46 Sqn. As this Sqn has suffered over 100% casualties in less than 6 weeks, I wanted to do it personally. Congratulations Major Canuck. Oh, also, your last three claims have all been approved. I believe that makes 8 now? Congratulations on becoming an ace, Major."
With that, he dismissed the parade and turned to his vehicle. "One more this Major," he said over his shoulder, "That balloon is back up again. Go get it for me, would you?"
That afternoon I took Bliss and MacLaren with me again to deal with this balloon. Once again we reached it without incident and I popped it. As we were coming around, a lone Pfalz DIII came investigating. All three of us put rounds into him, though none of us could figure out who finally got him. All returned safely.
Much to my fury, when we got back HQ rang up to say the huns had already replaced the balloon and it was imperitive we go and get it the next morning.
So we did. This time I wanted to make sure the guns got the message, I came in at treetop level and strafed the living daylights out of the ground pounders, using rockets on their truck. Bliss took care of the balloon. The gunners on the ground were good and put several holes in my plane, a few into important components. I barely made it back to Filescamp, and came too close to a crash landing, but the mechanics ensured my machine would be ready for tomorrow.
It looks like we will have lots to celebrate in the mess tonight!