Wulfe, you’re making me jealous that my guy isn’t closer to the city! 77_Scout, your photo of Euston reminds me of taking the train from there to Cambridge back in 1970! It hadn’t changed. Lou, you realise, of course, that only Commies go jogging before breakfast? Fulllofit, I’m really enjoying Gaston. He’s a man after my own heart (I’m in a hotel tonight and there’s a 50% off sale on wine in the restaurant, so one needs a bottle of Pinot with one’s burger, wot?). Great cliffhanger, but I’m glad to see all is well. MFair, I am really looking forward to see Jericho react to darkest Europe! Maeran, absolutely delighted to have you in the campaign! Well done on WAGS in slipping into the field on that circuit. Carrick, what Yank did you get the gum from????
An Airman’s Odyssey – by James Arthur Collins
Part Five: In which I tour the countryside and am treated by a generous Canadian.
Mark Jericho, our cowboy trainee from Long Branch, showed up at Netheravon yesterday afternoon. We chatted for a minute on the field and then, later in the mess, I discovered that the man is temperate, which is as close to an atheist as a Bible-thumping cowpuncher can possibly get. Still, he’ll be great fun to tease, I figured. He took the empty spot in our hut and it was like Old Home Week in Netheravon!
6 December began as a lovely day. Swaney was first up and polished off his circuits without drama. I was next. Thomas insisted I repeat my task from yesterday, despite my protest that I’d been less than ten minutes short of touchdown and had proved my ability to land by downing my crippled bus in a field the size of a tennis court. I took over shortly after eight, climbed south to Salisbury, and looped west until I turned back to the aerodrome and touched down at the very edge of the field. Taking off again, I did a wide loop of Wiltshire and settle back in neatly.
Later in the morning, I did another loop of the area, this time climbing to 10,000 feet. The BE2 struggled a bit above 8,000 feet. On this second flight, the clouds grew thicker and threatened a continuation of the stormy weather that had plagued much of December to date. Still, I was able to see the ground from time to time and could not help noticing the incredible military activity across the local countryside. There were fields with spiderweb-like tracings of trenches, and convoys of lorries threw up dust storms despite the wet earth. Even from 10,000 feet up, one could see formations of cavalry on manoeuvre in the fields and lanes.
I’d never climbed this high before and found it bothered me. I had a splitting headache until after dinner that night.
Swaney had a good flight and Jericho did a dead-stick landing that drove Thomas apoplectic, since he didn’t realise it was intentional.
Several of the fellows were heading to town after dinner and Swany, Jericho, and I joined them. In Salisbury, we found a public house called the Red Lion, and encountered a group of Canadian officers who were, to a man, quite drunk. A few of the fellows sat with us and one chap, Stanley Something by name, passed out at the table with a fistful of 10 shillling notes in his hand. Jericho swore that the fellow promised to stand rounds before falling asleep, so Swaney and I ordered bitter while Jericho ordered coffee and cakes, and a good and cheap night was had by all. Before leaving, we wrote Stanley a thank-you note and left him our calling cards in the event we ever meet in France. If we all live, I should be glad to repay the fellow.
"In Salisbury, we found a public house called the Red Lion..."