19 Jan 1917

A Tripe of my own. Words cannot describe the joy I felt at getting to fly a kite that can compete in the air. I was not longer just a target, I could be a hunter, just like my mates! I would fly up and down the front, downing all enemies who dared to challenge me!

I looked over at Samuel's empty bunk. A cold feeling settled in the pit of my stomach. Maybe it might be best to save the heroics for the heros. I should probably just try to stay alive and keep my kite in one peace. At the very least the boys in the shop will be happy with me.

I sighed and pulled on my frigid boots. Bundling up, I walked over the few meters to the HQ hut and checked the roster for today. B flight is to RV with some bombers and lay some pain down upon some German supplies. Seemed easy enough. If we were lucky we wouldn't even see the enemy. If we were really lucky we wouldn't even see our bombers and could come home without ever crossing the lines.

We met the bombers without incident, sadly. We chugged towards the lines, literally flying circles around the two BE2cs that were carrying their little bombs towards the unsuspecting Germans. A strange whistling sound told me they had layed their eggs over the target. Just as I was swinging my nose around for home I noticed a glint on the horizon.


I motioned to my Flight Commander and charged headlong at the foe. My eyes were drawn tight to the growing specs on the horizon. As I came closer I realized these were two seaters. ROLANDS. I sighed relief. No quick death at the hands of some Hun ace for me today.

We closed rapidly, and I chose my dancing partner. As we came into contact,he flipped his craft around, showing me the tail. I stayed low, heeding the advice of some of my squadmates.

"Now Barleigh," they would say patronizingly between drinks, "When you come up on a two-seater what do you do? No, no, no Albert, not like that, you have to stay low. Come up under her skirt and give it to her hard and fast."

I slowly made my way closer, careful to stay out of the arcs of the rear gunner. Finally I popped up my nose and fired. As I did I drifted up into the range of the rear guns.

Nothing. No return fire. I smiled inwardly. Now this should be easy. I drifted in closer, ready to finish my pray when all of a sudden I heard bullets snapping past. Oh bother, that rear gunner was awake!

I fired another long burst into the cockpit area and spiraled down out of range. I became coldly aware of the fact I was all alone, miles behind the lines. Looking behind me I saw a faint trail of vapour. Bugger it. A slow leak of petrol. I should have enough to get back over the lines. I sighed and resigned myself to another landing far from an aerodrome.

I looked at my map and determined that La Lavoie was the closest parking spot. I decided to head in that direction and hope I could make it.

My petrol reserves survived the trip and I lined up my approach. I drifted in slowly, determined to make a graceful landing in front of the airmen here. At about 200 ft my engine coughed and died. No worries I thought. Ill just touch down a few meters in front of the field proper. Hey, what is that line there? FENCE! FENCE FENCE FENCE BUGGER PULL UP! I grunted at the effort, but it was no use. I smashed into the fence.

The Tripe was a write off. I fared a little better fortunately. Four days in a nice hospital with some pretty nurses. The whole time I couldn't help but think who in their right mind puts a fence 50 yards from a runway?