SGT. Brent Baskerville RFC-3, Morane-Saulnier February 6, 1916
Lieutenant Norton took me aside today and complimented my bombing skills. I should be grateful, and certainly I enjoy recognition as well as the next bloke, but has that brought me back to my rightful place in the officer's mess? Of course not.
I hounded the adjutant, who was of no help whatsoever, but at least he did intercede with the Lieutenant who let me take 24 hours on February 3 to drive to the nearest command and plead my case.
Drive? Only commoners drive. So I asked Sergeant Foster to accompany me and he agreed. Once in Loos he went off to find a maypole party or something while I spoke with a Captain Hart.
Hart said all the right words of course, apologizing for the irregularity of my commission, promising to look into how it was defaced with the words 'Bugger the King', agreed the allegation that I wrote that words was ridiculous, and so forth. I asked him at least for a note to show Norton to let him know this was all rubbish and he demurred. "We must not go against the system," the loaf said.
I did get a number of flights in this week - all bombing, mostly harassing the front line troops. Usually Norton led himself. I certainly can't fault his bravery (though perhaps his sense) as he seemed to take pleasure in flying low over the lines to get a good look at everyone. Especially artillery duels.
I have said Norton complimented my aim. It's improving steadily. On the 4th instant I dropped my two 20 pounders on a hangar at I believe Haubourdin and my observer, Richardson, said I inflicted shocking damage. Earlier today I helped pummel a railyard into submission.
Naturally this has stirred the Germans out of their beds. In those same two flights Fokker eindeckers showed up to challenge us. Fortunately both times we were escorted by Frogs flying their Nieuport 10s. Beautiful aircraft. It seems both times all but one of the Eindeckers would be lured into a duel, and I watched one unfold below me: Two of them versus our two Nieuports engagine in spins and turns that would probably snap the Parasol in two. Brave warriors, these French, and I'm sure they would have cleared up any paperwork about my commission long since.
Still, that would leave one chasing us vainly. A few shots from Richardson or another would send them packing. That is how Lt. Norton earned his first kill.
I have cried about my fate, with some justification I might add, but other than this startling irregularity about my rank Norton is quite the civil bloke. For example, once I just could not bear the tedium of our slow, spiraling landing platform and had some fun. He didn't say a word.
Still, I hope this war ends soon, or failing that I am allowed to transfer out. Perhaps another squadron will remember my rank. Perhaps another squadron will give me a chance to earn some glory. No one cares how many hangars you destroy. Other planes are another matter, and I would like to shoot down a few more Eindeckers before this is through.