3 – 4 Dec 1916 Sopwith Strutter familiarization and flight trials
After a hearty breakfast at St. Omer in the NCO mess, I was taken on rounds of the airfield. I was impressed by the immensity of the facility. It is the main aircraft depot, assembly and repair area, and is massive. There are very large fuel and munitions storage on the base and an extremely large conglomerate of Squadron Hangars and Barracks for several squadrons Two separate intersecting runways for incoming defunct aircraft and outgoing replacements to the squadrons. There is also a separate adjoining runway for active squadron use. Attention must be paid on approach, that the proper runway is utilized. or one could easily come a cropper.
The rest of the morning entailed instructions and orientation on the Strutter and in the afternoon my instructor took me up for a spin. I was impressed with the handling and stability of this two seater craft and it seemed very nimble and stable in flight. On top of this she could handle 4, 25lb bombs. I only wished I had been in one when we had to deal with the Huns back at Auchel. When we came down he handed over the operation to me and told me to take her up for a spin, and practice takeoff and landing a few times. It was a rather thrilling afternoon. Upon completion of my practice session I commented that this craft was an outstanding performer and would make a good scout. The instructor laughed and said, “If you think the Strutter is top notch, wait until you step into the Pup lad. You will undoubtedly be trying one back in old Blighty at Farnborough. They are testing all sorts of new stuff there.”
I had the rest of the early evening off and was invited to join some members of 35 Sqn for a jaunt into St. Omer. The lads indicated that the Café Vincent had a waitress called Jeanne who kept most of the mens hearts fluttering. She was described as having the comely look of an Angel and the eyes of a wanton woman. Descriptions of her other attributes followed and I was quick to jump into the Karrier lorry and head to town. The Café Vincent was the local watering hole for the airfield staff and any other squadrons within a reasonable distance. It was very busy every night.
It was a rather rowdy evening and except for my recollections of the accuracy of the description of Jeanne, I can’t much recall anything else of the night. I know I was feeling rather under the weather the next morning.
Last edited by Robert_Wiggins; 04/10/1703:28 AM.
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