Everybody's stories continue to inspire - excellently written, by all! I only hope I can keep up
Sgt. Graham A. Campbell No. 20 Squadron R.F.C, Netheravon, England.
January 1st, 1916.
The year has begun with snow blanketing the now-silent Netheravon. Through the window of the Sergeants’ mess, I have spent the first hours of my morning trying to penetrate with my gaze the thick wall of sleet that is whipping around angrily outside, beating at the doors to be let in. Early this morning Major Wilson assembled No. 20 and told us that there would be no flying done today - not that we needed to be told! I can scarcely imagine any aeroplane being able to fly in such unfavourable situations.
Jimmy Reynard had suggested that we attempt to procure one of the few motorcars scattered around the aerodrome and head into Salisbury, but, as Archer pointed out, the fierce winter frost in this time of year was treacherous, and often concealed obstacles ahead, and lay traps of invisible ice on roads; It was no friend to drivers and pilots, alike. So, instead, I strained my eyes into the snow and allowed my mind to wander, as Reynard busied himself loading his pipe, and Archer sat down with an Army notebook, sketching aeroplanes. As it turns out, Archer is quite the artist, and our quarters have slowly been decorated by thumb-tacked drawings of his.
Over the last few days, when the weather would allow, pilots have already started departing for France, and their assigned squadrons. The last pilots to have gone were Netheravon’s two resident Americans, Swanson and Jericho, who were bound for No. 3 Squadron. Rumour has it that No.3 are on Moranes. I do not envy them; The Morane Parasols look rather slow and unstable in the air, and every time I see one fly I am fearful that it will suddenly spin, as the poor No.29 pilot did back at Hounslow Heath.
It seems that we of No.20 will be in Blighty a little longer, but Cpt. Bistow, one of our observers, has let slip that we are soon to be bound for France ourselves, and war! According to Bistow, our four B.E.2s are to be replaced by F.E.2s upon our arrival. Jacky Boy, Switch-off and I are terribly excited at this news! A few days ago I met my Observer, Ken Edith, for the first time. To my astoundment, it is a Captain that I shall be ferrying across the skies of France! How amusing that I, a mere Sergeant Pilot, should be leading a Captain into battle! That being said, the broad-shouldered Scot seems completely impartial to rank, a rare trait for a British officer, and I have seen him more than once helping the engine-fitters to carry out their work in the aeroplane hangars and workshops. Edith comes from Evanton, a sleepy little town on Scotland’s Eastern coast, not too far from the Cromarty Firth. As he was happily telling me on our first meet, as a youth he would frequent the Fyrish Monument, from which there is a terrific view of the Firth and, on clear days, the looming, ominous hulk of Ben Wyvis can be seen in the distance.
The snow is falling ever-heavier. I fear that we may not be flying again for a while, and it seems to me that the weather may be sympathising with the Hun! By any means, it will not be long until we are in France, and Captain Boyd, or ‘Taffy’ as we know him, has already begun taking wagers as to which crew will shoot down a Hun first.