Sgt Alfred Keers is learning to love the Fee!

Mr Whieldon (his Christian name is Jamie, but I cant get comfortable using a given name with an officer, even in private) was becoming a great chum. We would disappear for walks and talk about home and dreams for the future. His home is in the Hebrides, the island of Jura, where his father is a minister. He helped maintain automobiles for a distillery owner there until he headed for England to join up. He was briefly an artillery officer before getting lucky enough to be transferred to the RFC in early 1915 and attached to 7 Squadron at Chemsford for training of sorts, as he put it. He told me that Mr Alice, the fellow I flew over from England and looped the Fee with, is still put out that we have a couple of Huns to our credit while he has none.

The news from home is a bit upsetting. People have not yet realized there is a war on, what with strikes and various disruptions. I try to write to the parents every other day, and to Rosetta and Eliza a letter each week. We are going up only once a day at present, but I am told that we can expect to be up two or even three times a day as the weather improves and action at the front intensifies.

On 31 March we were sent on a reconnaissance patrol to the front near Armentieres and were engaged by Fokkers. A thrilling time. We force one to land and destroyed another, but the formation was split up and we had no confirmation. Major Wilson is very reluctant to submit an unwitnessed claim to headquarters, and ours was rejected.
The next day, 1 April, saw us patrolling down to the Somme River in a cold rain. Again we were engaged by Fokkers and again Mr Whieldon drove one down out of control. And again our claim was denied.

Mr Alice was heard to cast doubts on our claims, I am told. I would like to get commissioned so I might cuff him with impugnity.

On 2 April we went south again, this time to Arras, but saw nothing.

Then our luck turned. On 3 April we were sent well over the lines to an area south of Lille. We patrolled for nearly two hours without seeing a thing, but on our return I noticed friendly Archie off to the northwest of us towards Abeele. I turned to investigate. Captain Paget-Graves did not join us, nor did Mr McNaughtons aircraft. After a few minutes, we saw two Aviatiks, a Hun two-seater type, circling the area. I made for one of them and Mr Whieldon prepared his Lewis gun. To our surprise a third Aviatik fired at us from behind!

It wasnt hard to evade the Hun and we were soon under its tail. Mr Whieldon fired only about 20 or 30 rounds and it burst into flame and shed its wings, falling in a field near Poperinghe. It was our third official kill, and I rode in the Crossley with Mr Whieldon to inspect it that afternoon. By the time we found the wreck it had been picked over by souvenir hunters, but Mr Whieldon got a bit of fabric with the serial number and I prised out the altitude indicator, a lovely piece of German craftsmanship.

On the following day, 4 April, we did a reconnaissance flight over the German lines southeast of Arras. Captain Paget-Graves dropped out with engine trouble before we crossed over, and Mr McNaughton took the lead. As we were about to turn back, I noticed three monoplanes emerge from a bank of clouds about a mile off and turn towards us. I signalled to Mr McNaughton but he simply pointed west and we dashed for safety. But the Fokkers had the height advantage and gained on us. I saw one getting close to Lieut McNaughtons machine and turned to engage it. As I did so I saw a second Hun under our tail. We shook him off and chased the Hun on Mr McNaughtons tail, but the same green-painted Fokker that had eluded us a few days before engaged us. We turned and twisted at low level over the ruins of Monchy. The Hun was a star turn. Finally Mr Whieldon put a few rounds into the Hun and chased him off. We thought we were clear, but another Fokker made a pass at us. He was fairly dud, though, and we got behind him and finished him off. The machine fell into a tree line behind the enemy trench lines. We circled for height and dashed home to find that Mr McNaughtons machine had collided with the third Fokker and crashed. He walked away nearly unharmed but his observer, Lieut Stapleton, was killed.

The RO called the headquarters nearest the scene of the engagement and we were delighted to learn that the 55th Divisions artillery observers confirmed a Fokker and a pusher type duelling on their front at the right time of day, with the German aircraft crashing. We now had our fourth official victory!


"Mr Whieldon fired only about 20 or 30 rounds and it burst into flame and shed its wings..."


"We turned and twisted at low level over the ruins of Monchy."