17-18 December, 1915 Le Bourget Sergent Gaston A. Voscadeaux
-“Why does this always happen to me?” Gaston kept on asking himself as he watched two Augustinian monks walk out of the captain’s office all covered in soot and ashes. -“VOSCADEAUX!” Captain’s voice could clearly be heard not just outside of his office, but throughout most of the aerodrome. Gaston got up from his chair and entered the office as per his captain’s invitation.
-“Finally some real action.” Gaston could hardly contain himself when he heard that the bombing exercises are up next. “This is what I’m here for.” He was instructed to pick a target and have at it. When he went in the morning to inspect the “ordnance” slung under his Caudron, his enthusiasm was deflated significantly. -“Students aren’t allowed live ammunition.” Was the tired explanation given by the armorers to all the pilots who came by and complained that these did not look like bombs. ‘The bombs’ were canvas sacks filled with ashes from the kitchen stoves. When dropped and had exploded, they would leave a nice mark on the ground spreading the light grey contents, indicating the impact point. This would aid the pilots adjust their aim as necessary after returning from their bombing run and examining their handiwork. Gaston decided to attack a bridge north of the aerodrome. He approached it from the south flying along the road. When he was over the bridge he released one of the bags and made a whistling noise to complete the illusion. The sack hit the water to one side of the bridge, leaving no mark. Gaston should have known better! He switched to a different target. One that would leave a mark. A bend in the river cut by a straight line of the road would delineate his new target area. He will try to hit that small piece of land. There was still a chance that his bombs would fall into the water, but it was a chance he was willing to take. After making an about turn and approaching his target from the north he released his second bomb. He made another whistling sound with his mouth and then, after witnessing the impact on the ground he made a sound of an exploding shell from a Soixante-Quinze. Gaston was happy with his aim and decided to give it another go to make sure it wasn’t just luck. He put some distance between the target and his plane and then made a tight turn to line up for another run. Another set of whistling and exploding sounds. By now his moustache was full of spittle, but his egg hit the right spot again. Gaston had one more sack of soot and very little saliva left. He decided to increase the level of difficulty and aim for a small shed on the farm just south of the bridge. He will have to be more precise with such a small target. He was coming fast and had little time to aim. The bomb exploded wide and Gaston could only blame himself for rushing it. Tiny droplets of rain begun to fall from the overcast sky telling him the exercise was over.
The weather cleared up overnight and now Gaston was carrying his four sacks of ashes at 2000 m through the clear blue skies. He made the decision to switch it up and pick a target in a totally different location from yesterday. East of the aerodrome he found some ruins surrounded by a small forest.
He made his first run on the go to simulate a surprise attack and the bomb hit the east side of the building. He flew over the target and made another run from the south at a reduced height. This time his bomb hit the north end of the target. Gaston turned east and approached the target from the south again. His third bomb, released early, fell on the south side, while Gaston’s machine banked west for the final run. His last bomb bounced of the roof and hit the west face. The building was now covered in a cloud of ashes on all four sides. Gaston made another circuit around the target admiring his work, turned east and made his way to the aerodrome.
-“Sergent Voscadeaux, you are an even bigger idiot than I’ve imagined.” Captain’s friendly voice greeted Gaston as he was walking through his door. “I just had a visit from two monks. Did you know that someone earlier today attacked their monastery? Apparently there was dust and ashes everywhere. I had to explain that it was an accident and that one of our students couldn’t tell the difference between a monastery and ruins. I’ve had it up to HERE with you! Why can’t you follow orders? But you know what? I don’t care. Let someone else deal with you. Tomorrow you’re flying your final examination mission and that’s it. It’s over. Heh, heh ... Over, you hear me? What are you standing here around? DISMISSED!” Gaston didn’t have to be told twice. As he was leaving a thought crossed his mind: “I don’t think the captain likes me.”
"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."