Hasse, incredible introduction to Julius, super stuff.

Maeran, the dummy toss was brilliant, and a great bit of historical context. Well done.

Fullofit, another wonderful episode in Gaston’s tale. And the painting is superb.

Ace_Pilto, can’t wait to see how Drummond does when he gets to France. The man’s a character to be sure.

Mark, here’s hoping your pilot and mine can survive the Moranes.

Carrick, your pilots always seem to find the prettiest mademoiselles.

77_Scout, Aleck should not be too anxious to run into the Hun, it will happen soon enough.

Wulfe, Campbell’s reports are outstanding. Love all the historical bits being brought in.

lederhosen, great pics and report. And yes, those landing fields in the middle of the woods do look far too small.

Raine, great story, too bad though that Jim won’t be coming along to 3 Squadron. Good Lord willing his path will cross again with those of Mark and Swany.

I know it’s been said already, but the writing here has really been taken up several notches. It’s a treat to catch up every day. Now, if you will allow me the pleasure, I shall add my own bit to bring Swany somewhat up to date on his adventure.

January 4th, 1916
Auchel, France

Snow and ice and wind, four days straight of it, had 2nd Lt. Swanson feeling right at home in his new digs at No. 3 Squadron. He’d arrived in the small hours of the morning of the New Year, having missed nearly all the celebrations owing to the fact that he’d been bumping along in a tender from Saint-Omer since the night before. After shuttling his repaired mount from Saint-Inglevert to No. 1 Aircraft Depot late in the afternoon of December 31st, landing just as the snow began blowing about in earnest, he was informed that he was to proceed immediately to his new assignment. They were in desperate need of pilots and so time was of the essence. He had but a few minutes to grab a quick bite and a cup of tea and make a stop in the WC while his kit was being transferred from the front office of the B.E.2 to the back of the tender, after which he was off.

What should have been a two-hour drive took all night, due in part to the weather, but in larger part to the inexperience of his driver. The poor fellow, one Corporal Lewis, had no apparent sense of direction whatsoever, and was lost far more often than he was found. Add to this the fact that he seemed terrified to push the Crossley to a speed that might exceed a brisk walking pace. It was a god-awful ride. After countless wrong turns and seemingly endless detours Swany was beyond relieved when, seven hours after starting out, he and his kit were standing in the falling snow outside the door of the Officer’s Mess at Auchel. Offering a less-than-cordial wave good bye, Swany hoped he would never see Corporal Lewis or his wayward truck again as he watched both disappear into the wintery darkness.

The next four days found the entire camp snowed in, with all flights cancelled. It gave Swany time to settle into his new surroundings and to visit with the other American currently in camp, 2nd Lt. Mark Jericho. He already knew the fellow from Canada and Netheravon but they’d only had a passing acquaintance there, despite having a character like Jim Collins as a shared friend. It’s not that they’d been avoiding each other, it was just that they were always off in different directions. Now, however, they were sharing a hut, as the C.O. thought it a fine idea that the Yanks be kept together. And despite the fact that both Swany and Jericho were relatively quiet sorts, after several days with little else to do the two got to talking and realized they had more in common than simply their country of origin. They each enjoyed the outdoors, were quick to learn, and both were cut from a rugged cloth. In addition, the two men each enjoyed the works of Mark Twain, which was discovered when Swany was unpacking his gear and tossed onto his cot a dog-eared copy of “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court”. And perhaps most binding of all, they each found the other’s dialect downright funny; Mark with his southern Mississippi/Texas drawl, and Swany with his northern Scandinavian/Minnesotan/Canadian accent. The Brits in camp generally thought they both sounded odd.