Dear Barmy,
07:15 Saturday 21 October 1916

I've got an hour before this mornings show thought I'd drop my dearest brother in the trenches a line. I'm sitting here slurping my second cup of tea after devouring a boiled egg, toast and marge.

It's nearly been a week since I touched down for the first time in my new home for the foreseeable. St-Pol Sur-Mer isn't a bad airfield, once you get used to it being almost completely surrounded by huge French oaks, got a few branches caught in the wheels on one early approach. The other are chaps friendly and my batman "Toad" is a thoroughly decent sort. The bar in the evening is quite a riot, and in our off times the country side is pleasant enough, though the noise from the front is constant and sounds as if it's in the next field. My flight leader 'Dallas' is a steady chap, good pilot, doesn't take many risks and knows his way around. It turns out October is good time to see northern France, the trees ( apart from the Bally ones around the airfield are beautiful shades of yellow and red) and the weather good. A few of the chaps took me into Dunkirk a couple of days ago, I always knew the ladies liked a sailor but a sailor and airman! All the pretty girls are queuing up for a kiss!

I've seen the Hun just once - I was in my BE2 and spotted another two seater, too far away to do anything. Almost felt like waving when I saw the shiny white machine, but don't think that's the done thing.

Yesterday, the most amazing thing happened; the BE2s were taken and given to RFC 12 while we were given 12 Nieuport 10s and a couple of Nieuport 11s. Redford Mulock, known as "Red", 'A's flight leader and Dallas bagged the 11s - affectionately called "Babes", due to their slightly smaller size. For the rest of us, our kites, the 10, are ex-two seaters, with the observer's seat covered up and a Lewis slung over the wing. Bought from the French; it's so fresh from the French I can still see their inside out roundel on the wing! It is hoped, by those in the know, that they may help us against the new German single seater scouts I've heard about but not seen. I was allowed to paint a lucky charm sort of thing on the port side of my 10, the Padre's taken to calling me Saint Angus as I didn't feel like drinking the first night I arrived, (there was a bit of a binge on when I landed), so I've painted a 'Stickman Saint' on the side, I'm hoping he'll bring me luck! I've flown the 10 twice so far, sadly not made it 'Sausage Side' yet - which is a shame as I can't wait to have a smack at the Hun.

Not one of us was sorry to see the back of the BE2s - though it looks light we'll be escorting them from time to time. One bright spark came up with this amusing ditty; it's a take on the 23rd Psalm - it may even have been penned by the squadron Padre - who is a super down to earth chap called " Caldwell". It's called The Pilots Psalm , and it goes:

The B.E.2 is my bus;
therefore shall I want.
He maketh me to come down in green pastures.
He leadeth me where I wish not to go.
He maketh me to be sick;
he leadeth me astray on all cross-country flights.
Yea, though I fly oer No-man-s Land where mine enemies would compass me about,
I fear much evil, for thou art with me; thy joystick and thy prop discomfort me.
Thou prepareth a crash for me in the presence of mine enemies;
thy R.A.F. annointeth my hair with oil, thy tank leaketh badly.
Surely to goodness thou shalt not follow me all the days of my life,
else I shall dwell in the House of Colney Hatch for ever.

(Quoted from "No Parachute, Arthur Gould Lee" p.54)

Take Care Ole Brother of Mine, hope all is well in the Guards, you P.B.I


12:30 hrs Ps Barmy! I went up this morning just got back - an escort early morning show, with RFC 12 of all people, Dallas leading myself and Cox. Cox and I share a basher with two other fellows. About 20 minutes into our recon/patrol, just as we hit the Hun lines, Dallas gave the 'washout' signal and headed back. Cox, my wingman, and myself continued with the BE2s, perhaps because we remember, ourselves, what it was like just a few days ago, all alone over the lines in those flying coffins.

As we were heading home we spotted a lone, single wing Fokker, flying NE from our side of the lines about 400 ft below us, the BE2s were in no danger so we dived down on him. Blipping my engine (a great trick thought to me by Dallas which means sort of turning off my engine) I dived down and banked, came right down in his tail before he even knew we were there, my kite was creaking like nobody's business, I thought the whole thing might end up just a bag of match sticks. At about 90 yards I let him have it, my rounds seemed to go everywhere but in him. I heard a few strike, then he just plummeted and flipped-over. He went turtle, span and plummeted at great speed.

Honestly Barmy, I've never felt so powerful, all of France under me. The front like a huge brown ribbon trailing around me and my first Hun spinning to death. I put myself if a slow bank to follow him with my eyes as he went down spinning helplessly.

I noticed Cox following him down, I was concerned with what he was doing. "Had he been hit?" I asked myself, I looked around hoping there wasn't a second Fokker, but I was alone, couldn't even see the BE2s, the sky was empty. Looking down I saw the Fokker still spinning and Cox still following, when all of a sudden, in a split second, about 500 ft up the bally Fokker starts to straighten up and and then starts to pull up! I'm now about 2500 ft above him - too high to get down quickly with out wrecking my kite. I see Cox pile him with lead as the Fokker starts to climb wildly, outpacing Cox. I'm getting closer all the time, blipping my engine 'till I think it will explode, I noticed his prop was stationary, at about 150 yards I give him a three second squirt from the Lewis, by which point I've overshot him.

I bank around again - which seems to take forever - and he's gone.... I search again with my eyes and there below in the mud of no-man's land, I see a crater, wreckage and smoke, with Cox triumphantly flying through it about 25 yrds above the mire. I outpaced Cox home; I think he took some damage in his pursuit of the Hun down. We both landed safely. I'm hoping Cox and I will have half a kill each.

It's not until I write 'kill', that I realise that's what we've done; not sure how I feel about that ... Still us or him, right Barmy? Best not dwell ....

PPS 14:45 Barmey! Rotten luck!! Cox awarded the kill, and awarded the MC for his efforts. It seems I pretty well missed with every bullet! Putting it in the post now - I'll do my best to keep you up to date! TTFN

Last edited by SebToombs; 02/18/16 05:14 PM.