Journal Entry: February 8, 1916

Finally, Major Gundel has seen the wisdom of my suggestion to rid us of our Aviatiks and convert us to a purely hunting group. Yesterday, we accepted delivery of three Fokker E.IIIs for the rest of the men and two Fokker E.IVs for Manfred and myself. I am rather excited at the prospect of the E.IV, it has more power and two machine guns. Lately, I have noticed that our E.IIIs are not quite as dominant as when we first started flying them. I am hoping the E.IV reverses that trend. I was sorry to see our observers go but I'm convinced we can serve the Fatherland better by focusing on the destruction of enemy aeroplanes.

Imagine my chagrin when during this morning's mission I managed to destroy my brand new machine. Manfred and I flew up to the front for a line patrol in our new E.Ivs. It was a beautiful morning and the sector seemed unusually quiet. It wasn't long until I spotted two Nieuports flying along just to the south of us. I signaled Manfred and he was game, so I turned in their direction. They were game as well and I saw them turn towards us. We jockeyed for position for a few minutes and then I dove into them. We swirled around with no one able to gain an advantage until my opponent was able to climb above me and flip over into a steep slashing dive. I managed to jink out of the way but not quick enough to avoid all of his burst which went into my right plane. My bus immediately pitched over into a spin and I forgot all about my opponent as I tried to regain control of my machine. I had the control stick jammed to the left and the rudder jammed full left which brought me out of the spin about a hundred meters above the ground. I had no time to pick a landing spot and I set her down in the first clearing I saw. The landing was rough and she turned turtle as I was coming to a stop. Fortunately for me, the only thing hurt was my pride and then that Frenchman had the gall to fly over and make a rude gesture in my direction. Manfred had seen where I crashed so when he landed he sent a lorry to pick me up and gather the wreckage of my new machine. The men enjoyed my discomfort and I received my fair share of good natured ribbing which I fully deserved.

Member and provider of banjo music for the Illustrious BOC