13 Jan 17 Furnes I arrived at Furnes bright and early, practically shaking with anticipation and nerves. I immediately reported to my new CO. He cast a withering glance over my frail form and sighed wearily.
"You'll do. Canadian right?"
"Oh yes Sir!" I replied. "From out west."
He didn't reply as he motioned me out of his office and towards the hangers. "That there is Samuel. Terrific Chap, already has 5 victories. He will be your wingman. Get up in the air, get familiarized and then steel yourself. You will be up on patrol before the morning is out."
Samuel just shook his head as he saw me. "Another one along eh? Well, there is yours over there. No, not the Tripehound you fool. The N11 behind it. Just remember, if you see a Hun...Run."
I stared at him blankly, trying to absorb it all.
The famil flights went okay, but the patrol was another matter entirely. We made our way down South over Ypres and then turned East over the remains of Polygon Wood. My N11 struggled mightily to keep up with the Tripes.I struggled with keeping formation, map reading, scanning my sectors and praying for some warmth.
Then out of nowhere a gaggle of Huns were among us. I heard nothing but the sound of bullets hitting my kite. Panic overtook me and I dove for the deck as fast as possible. I was pretty sure I was on the wrong side of the lines, but the only thing that mattered was getting to ground.
I recovered my wits enough to point west and resumed the prayers that had so far kept me from receiving bullets. I pressed lower and lower until I was able to see trenches. Machine Gun bullets whizzed passed. I kept my eyes glued on the horizon, searching for a decent landing site. I could see nothing but shell holes and trees.
I passed our lines at about 200 feet. Nothing for it now. I aimed for a blank spot among the shattered terrain and managed to avoid a stall. Luck was with me today. As I sat frozen with fear in the cockpit I came to the horrific realization that I will not survive this war.
The riggers counted over 60 holes. How none found me is a mystery.
14 Jan 17 Another bloody patrol. The thought of getting into the Nupe makes me physically ill. Thank God the engine gave up over De Blankaart. I happily signaled engine trouble to the lead and turned back toward Furnes. Unfortunately, I had to put it down on the road to Dunkirk. The only bad news about this whole affair is that Samuel was shot down and killed. He seemed like he might have even been a decent sort.
15 Jan 17 A long patrol South along the lines. Nothing seen. No frostbite either, which was a minor miracle. I am beginning to regret enlisting.