Hasse, so sorry about August. But it's time for another pilot. The war is starting to get interesting.

War Journal of 2/Lt Blaise St John-Cottingham
Savy, France


23 November 1916: Flew in filthy weather, snow and sleet, up to patrol the area near our field at Hesdigneul. Wing reported EA in that sector. Lt Cole led, and Major Smith-Barry flew on his wing. I flew on his other wing. At one point the two of them turned and began climbing. I followed some distance behind. A German two-seater emerged hazily thought the muck and Cole began to fire. The Hun quickly snapped about and began throwing his grid all over the sky (Keith Caldwell, our resident Kiwi, calls every machine a grid, which is an antipodean name for a bicycle). Then I found a second Hun on my tail. With the high wind gusts, my Type 16 machine passed quickly from straining due to speed to stalling and back to straining. I managed only a few brief snap bursts before stalling and falling below the fight. The Huns, which I later learned were Rolands, made off safely and we returned home, wet and frozen.

Capt Latta from A Flight is being posted out to Home Establishment this day. He took over the flight from Ball before he left at the end of last month. His place will be taken by Capt George Parker. I am sharing a room in the mairie with a chap named Bill Sowrie, a former infantry type and a quiet sort. He has two brothers in the Flying Corps and is quite mad about wanting to shoot down Huns, which I find distasteful.

At dinner I learned that the Halberstadt I claimed yesterday was seen to crash by a Canadian artillery battery, so it is my first confirmed victory. Far from being feted, this apparently calls for me to buy a round of drinks for everyone in the mess.

Mother has sent me a wonderful hamper from Fortnum & Mason: fruits, ham, gentlemans relish, tinned grouse, marmalade, chocolate, shortbread, ginger biscuits, and wine. The latter is a waste, since decent wine can be bought for pennies here. I wrote home to thank the parents. I also received a package with back issues of the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News and the Tatler.

24 November 1916: Bad weather persists yet I went up again with Cole, Smith-Barry, Phillips, and Sowrey. We married up with two French Caudrons and picked our way through clouds. I got lost at one point for nearly ten minutes, but then spotted the others some distance off just as several EA attacked them. I joined in and fought a Halberstadt single-seat type down to about a thousand feet above the enemy lines near Oppy. I got a couple of good shots at him and saw rounds hit home. The Huns propeller stopped and I last saw it descending in swirling loops over the lines. I have put in a claim but heard nothing from the RO since our reports were filed. It will likely remain only a driven down.

I learned also that no squadron tradition obliged me to buy drinks yesterday. Captain Gilchrist told me that story and I was gullible enough to believe him. It will be necessary to get revenge or I shall look a fool.


"The Huns propeller stopped and I last saw it descending in swirling loops over the lines."