2 Dec 1916 @ 08h01 Transfer to Pilot training at St. Omer, and Farnborough
This morning at 08h00 I was summoned to meet with FC Woolven. Upon entering the office he told me to stand at ease. He stated that he would like me to consider transfer to England for scout flight training. As much as we need gunners here, we need pilots more he said. I couldn’t believe how this was playing into my hand. “When am I to leave Commander?” I asked. “I would like you to get your kit ready and take one of the FE’s this morning to St Omer. It’s a little worse for wear but there is a replacement on the way and that pilot will be picking up another of our FE’s for the return run. When you get there you will spend a few days getting oriented with the Sopwith Strutter, which you will take to Calais airfield and hence to Farnborough in England. Your training on scouts will begin there. Your background as a gunsmith and your experimentation with aircraft design has somehow come to the attention of the RAF at Farnborough. They have indicated an interest in what you might have to offer, so you will be doing double duty there. Any questions Godfrey?” “None Sir!”. “Here are your detailed orders. I wish you the best of luck and hope I can have you re-assigned to us on your return. I dare say you will likely be privy to some interesting information upon your return. You are dismissed”. With that I saluted sharply, turned on my heel and marched out the door. My heart was pounding with excitement. Finally my chance had come.
I rushed off to get my kit together. There wasn’t much as I hadn’t been here long enough to accumulate things. I gathered all my essentials and had the rest sent on to St Omer by one of the supply lorries. Hustling off to the hangars I found the FE already pulled out and being run up. The fitter came over to advise me not to put her through any strenuous paces and she had pretty much seen her best days. “She’ll get you there Sir, if you take it easy on her.” “Right you are then” I replied and clambered aboard, somewhat apprehensive. The thought ran through my head that the papers would read, “Promising young lad dies in crash on his way to training in England”. I wiped that from my mind as quickly as possible and ran up the engine, tested the controls and taxied out to the runway. I hoped the Huns were not active on my route today.
I set off at 09h35 and no sooner did I reach my staging area than it began to snow. Heavy wet flakes hit me in the face and I was only happy that the flight would be a short one to St Omer. I arrived there and landed at approximately 10h16. The airfield was quiet and I suspected all flights had been cancelled. I noticed some activity in the hangar when I pulled up and a couple of mechanics hustled out to help me. I received directions to the RO and was assigned temporary quarters. I dumped my kit and headed off to the mess for some hot tea and some breakfast if I could get some.
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