1 December, 1915 Réserve Générale de 'l'Aviation, Le Bourget/ Dugny
- “Suivant! Next!” - The sound came from a very lean man sitting behind a large desk littered with papers, applications and other important looking documents. The man with the surprisingly strong voice was finishing signing another pile of documents and without raising his eyes addressed the man who had just approached his desk as instructed. - “Et Vous-etes qui, Monsieur?” The lean man reached for another piece of paper and stamped it as if it were a roach about to get away. - [Who am I?] The man standing in front of the desk reflected upon this straightforward question. [Who am I? I’m a simple man - I like to eat and I like to drink. I’m a baker from Marseille. Born in Avignon but moved to the seaside and settled there. Why there? Because of Violette. Ah, Violette! The loveliest creature under the sun and my wife I might add. I met her there in the summer of 1907, courted her and married her there. It wasn’t easy with her Papa expecting her to marry someone less ... uncouth, but that’s a different story for another time. I am a father to 2 girls - the 6 year old Bernadette and 3 year old Giselle. I love all my 3 girls to death and I can’t wait to see them again soon. The little one is growing up without her father because of this damned war. I am also a soldier. When the mobilization started in 1914 I was recalled to active duty and joined my old unit under the 2e Armee commanded by General de Castelnau. Our orders were to invade Alsace and Lorraine, encircle le Boche, cut them off and win the war, all in one fell swoop. The operation was part of the foolproof Plan XVII, except no one expected the Germans to anticipate this maneuver. It all went to hell and our unit, along with many others, was decimated by the well positioned enemy machine guns and field artillery. German spies had it all figured out long before we set foot on the battlefield. The rest is just a collection of still images of explosions, mutilated and dead bodies, barbed wire and blood. And the smell, the smell of rotting corpses. People, horses, dogs. I was the lucky one. The shell explosion shattered my tibia and fibula. They were going to amputate, but from what I’ve heard someone decided to put them back together and see what happens. It took 6 months to recover and I have a noticeable limp, but I can walk on my own. Thanks to the brilliant yet unknown surgeon. I never found out his name to thank him properly. So, out of the hospital and to a new assignment - kitchen duty in Verdun sector. I did not like that one bit. I was ready to desert after 2 months. Thank God for Violette and her gossiping neighbour - old widow Ponsardin, who learned that there was a great need for pilots and they would accept just about anyone who wanted to learn to fly. That was my ticket out and I sent my application the next day. It took a while and involved an unfortunate incident with the examining doctor in Paris. Dr. Jean Camus’ selection process involved firing a gun behind the unsuspecting test subjects and observing their reaction. If the subject remained calm, he would be accepted. If he flinched, well ... it wouldn’t be the desired result. The poor doctor didn’t count on my reaction to his experiment. My revolver never leaves my side, even during medical examinations. When I heard the gun go off I automatically pulled my MAS 1873 out and aimed it at whoever fired. The doctor fainted at the sight of a barrel aimed at his head. It took half an hour to calm him down and fill out my acceptance form. "Excellent sight and robust constitution" he wrote. "Just needs to lose some weight." I suppose everyone needs a hobby. I was off to Pau within a week for my basic training. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face after my first run in Bleriot Pingouin. It was the best “automobile” ride ever! Then it was off to Le Crotoy for intermediate training at Caudron factory and training facility and finally here at RGA, just outside of Paris for the final training on the twin-engined G4’s. So who am I? I am a pilot. That is who I am!] - “I’m Sergeant Gaston Voscadeaux. Reporting for pilot training!” - “Ah! Another l’aviateur. Bienvenue!”
"Take the cylinder out of my kidneys, The connecting rod out of my brain, my brain, From out of my arse take the camshaft, And assemble the engine again."