Fantastic reports and pics, gentlemen! The Fee seems to be a real killing machine when flown by Raine. I must confess it's one of the crates that I've never liked to fly myself, but it's great to see somebody making so good use of it. smile

August Ege is back in action...


The Diary of August Ege.

FFA 71. Frescaty-Metz.

Montag, 3.IV.16, 9.00 Uhr nachmittags.

This day didnt turn out to be quite as ordinary as it first seemed!

At 9 oclock this morning, I was flying a regular artillery co-operation mission for the heavy batteries of XV. Armeekorps in the Fleury-Vaux sector northeast of Verdun with Oberleutnant Balthazar as my observer. Everything was going as planned, though the rainy and cloudy weather had again forced us to stay lower than usual and the terrible mud on the ground seemed to be sucking in the shells of our guns, making it something of a challenge for Balthazar to accurately register their hits.

We were making another pass over the target area from west to east when I spotted a machine approaching us directly from the south. It was heading straight towards us and I became suspicious of its behaviour, knowing how the French have been increasing their aerial presence in the sector in the past few weeks. The Aviatik is a gentle beast, so I could easily let go of the controls and watch the approaching machine through my binoculars. My suspicions were correct - it was a French Nieuport single-seater, armed with a gun over the top plane!

I instantly shouted to Balthazar and motioned at him to stop working his wireless apparatus, pointing towards the approaching Frenchman. Balthazar quickly understood what was happening and grabbed hold of one of our Parabellums, cocking the gun and turning it towards our enemy.

What happened next is even now something of a blur in my mind. I can see the Frenchman approaching and myself turning our Aviatik towards him so that Balthazar can get a good shot at his machine. Then I see the bolt of Balthazars gun moving back and forth and bright sparks coming from the ejection port - and above everything else, even over the loud roar of the engine, I hear sharp cracks which I realize are coming from the gun firing so close to my ears.

I dont remember looking at our attacker - I so was fully concentrated in flying our machine and trying to keep a good field of fire for Balthazar. Then, quite suddenly, he ceased firing and let the gun lower itself to its rest position, shouting at me and gesturing wildly to the right and rear of my cockpit. I turned my head to look and saw a bright ball of fire - our opponent had burst into flames! Black smoke and flying debris surrounded the burning enemy machine, which lingered in the air for a second before plummeting down towards the earth like a comet from the heavens above. We could see the remains of the Nieuport scatter down on the trenches near Vaux.

After continuing on our course for a while we both seemed to realize that even after our sudden victory in the air, there was still a war going on all around us, and that we had to get back to our normal business. Our machine seemed to be working well, so I was confident that the enemy plane hadnt managed to hit us. I brought us back to our target area and Balthazar resumed his work with the wireless. Everything had happened so quickly that the artillery detachment probably hadnt even realized Balthazar was no longer sending them his corrections!

The rest of the mission was uneventful, as was our return flight to Frescaty. After we had landed, we informed our mechanics and then Hauptmann Stelzer of what had happened. Everybody was greatly excited by our news, and Stelzer immediately contacted AOK 5 to see if the ground troops could confirm our victory. It took a few hours - we were all waiting in the mess as the weather had turned too bad to keep flying - but finally the phone rang and Stelzer received word from the Stabsoffizier der Flieger: the infantry division in the Vaux sector had seen our air battle and the destruction of the enemy machine! Apparently its remains had rained down on our own positions, so there was no lack of evidence to support our case.

Afterwards, there was so much shouting and cheering and laughing that my ears are still ringing from it - or maybe it was the fire from Balthazars Parabellum? Our Abteilung has scored its first kill, and I get to share the glory with my observer!

It is a peculiar feeling. On one hand, Im happy about what happened. But on the other, the image of the Frenchman going down in flames somehow troubles me. Were at war, and hundreds - maybe thousands - of people are dying every day all over the world. It wasnt even me who pulled the trigger, but Balthazar.

And yet - it is a peculiar feeling, to see somebody die like that.

Perhaps Ill get used to it.

View from the office.

"Upon my word I've had as much excitement on a car as in the air, especially since the R.F.C. have had women drivers."

James McCudden, Five Years in the Royal Flying Corps