I really could not be happier with how my transition to command has worked out. At first, it was rather embarrassing to be constantly asked about my two VCs and my numerous aerial victories. It did not bother me though, I realize that every new and inexperienced pilot needs someone to admire and emulate. As a matter of fact, I believe that is one of the most important responsibilities of a commander, to provide a role model for the men. The fact that I do not deserve their adulation is beside the point.
When I arrived I learned that unlike my previous squadron, RNAS-3 is still a mixed squadron with a small amount of Sopwith Strutters still flying recon/bombing missions. The remainder of our aeroplanes are a mix of Nieuport 10s and 11s. I inquired of the Wing Commander on how long he saw us flying as a mixed squadron and he said we should be completely converted to a scout squadron by August. With that in mind, I decided to try something a little different in regards to the Strutters. I assigned the Strutters to myself and the three other most experienced pilots. This caused much grumbling and grousing, but after I explained the reasoning behind my decision I think the men involved came around to my point of view. In the end, it does not really matter because I am after all, the commander. It occurred to me that for the most part in mixed squadrons the more inexperienced pilots get assigned to the slower two-seaters. What if we changed that and placed the best pilots in the two-seaters? Would that not cause confusion among the enemy pilots? Indeed, so far it has done exactly that. We have flown 8 missions and have had 3 engagements with the enemy. Of those three engagements we have either destroyed the enemy or driven them off damaged. Of course, I should add that the Strutter is a marvelous plane and is quite rugged and maneuverable.
Yesterday, our push at the Somme began. We have not heard anything as to how it is proceeding. I sincerely hope that this is the one push that does the trick and opens up the stalemate.
Member and provider of banjo music for the Illustrious BOC