The snow at Vivaise slowly gave way to rain, icy slush and mud began to make life difficult for everyone.

A machine broke it's tether and embedded itself deep in the thawing ground after a brief uncontrolled flight caused by a sudden gust of wind. It took a team of men to dig the machine out and smooth over the rut that was left as best they could but that part of the field would be a danger until the ground was once more firm enough to be rolled flat. Kolb and his compatriots spent most of their time trying to get warm around one of the many coke stoves scattered around the airfield and flying was restricted to local patrols only since the threat of the weather closing in and leaving a flight with nowhere to land was too great. There was no sign of the French in the sector and the "Hours Total" column in Kolb's logbook was slowly increasing.

The only sign Kolb has seen so far that there was really a war hidden among all this bad weather was anti-aircraft fire. Dirty white puffs of explosive appeared in the sky on one patrol over the lines and were replaced by black puffs upon crossing the lines. Kolb had heard of the difference between German shells and those used by the enemy and the sight of black smoke in the air caused him to scan the air vigorously, banking too and fro and craning his neck to cover as much sky as possible. The sight of german anti aircraft shells bursting all around convinced Kolb that there may have been a French machine in his immediate vicinity but it was not the case. No machine revealed itself. Kolb asked Leutnant Laack about the flak, Laack laughed.

"They were probably aimed at us dear Kolb"

Kolb supposed that it was possible for the German gunners to have glimpsed their machines above and failed to correctly identify them as friendly but to open fire without certainty seemed to him irresponsible to say the least and potentially a downright dereliction of duty!

"Nevermind Kolb" Said Laack, poking at the stove in a half hearted attempt to coax more heat from the coals. "Just mark the area on your map and be careful over there in future, never expect everyone to do the right thing all the time. This is war, not a parade."

That night Kolb dreamed of Marie receiving a telegram telling her that her husband had been killed by his own side's flak. She burned the telegram in a stove identical to the ones on the airfield. The creak of the hinge as she closed the stove door awoke Kolb abruptly and he saw the dim silhouette of Laack crouched over the stove in their quarters. They'd moved into the same room. Rain drummed on the roof as Kolb's wits slowly gathered themselves to lucidity.

"The flight commander wants us up in an hour, better get moving Kolb."

"What's the fuss?" Kolb asked

"Airfields, we're on defensive patrol. HQ thinks the French may try to send some planes through the muck to snoop." Laack handed Kolb a cup of coffee.

"It's the good stuff, someone found a sack of real coffee beans. Deserving of a Pour le Merit in my opinion."

Kolb grinned and drank.

*****

The patrol was nothing particularly eventful. Laack, Kolb and the Flight commander who went by the nickname Kobes bounced around in the grey wilderness for over an hour while A flight lingered in the air 2,000ft above them. Kobes was a good formation leader, conscientious about the ability of his flight to keep pace and never one to linger in the air when conditions were poor in the vain hope of sighting an enemy. In fact the clouds were so numerous and thick that the entire French air force could have been aloft and B flight would have been none the wiser. Eventually Kobes led the formation back to Vivaise where they spiralled down out of the grey and gingerly alit upon the treacherously slushy ground of the field without mishap.

It was the last day of March.

[Linked Image]

Kolb, Laack and Kobes being fired upon by "friendly" flak.

Last edited by Ace_Pilto; 04/17/17 09:47 PM.

Let's pretend I got the BWOC badge to embed here.

Wenn ihr sieg im deine Kampf selbst gegen, wirst stark wie Stahl sein.