"The most improper job of any man ... is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity."
- J. R. R. Tolkien on his experiences in the Great War
Julius left Berlin by the evening train on the 30th of December. Leni had managed to leave the Ministry in time to bid adieu to him. No other friends or relatives of Julius were present at the station. Julius didn’t mind it. He had his trusty old army backpack full of personal items, and the memory of a teary-eyed Leni kissing him on the cheek was all that he needed for the trip. Leni had even promised not to cry, but in the end she couldn’t help herself. Julius gave his word that he would stay safe and write regularly.
The train was carrying troops and material, but was not ranked as a particularly important one by the wizards in the Transport Section of the Great General Staff, so Julius and the other passengers had to spend hours waiting for more critical units to pass by. There were only so many hours one could talk about the weather, the potato harvest (which was apparently poor) and other such mundane topics of daily life, so eventually Julius gave up on the socializing, covered himself with his greatcoat and tried to get some sleep.
They arrived at Cologne on the next day after an utterly boring trip. A lorry picked up Julius and a few others from the station and took them straight to the Butzweilerhof airfield on the outskirts of the city, where a military airbase had been established already in 1912. Julius reported at the headquarters building of the Flieger-Ersatz-Abteilung, hoping for an immediate assignment to a flying unit on the front. However, it was not what the powers that be had in mind for him. Julius was told to report to a barracks and wait there for further orders, which would be given as soon as possible.
Julius was an expert at waiting. It was all he had been doing ever since the start of the war and his training first as an artillerist and then as a flyer. Once again resigned to his fate, Julius went to the barracks and made himself at home there as best as he could. The room he was assigned to was excellent by military standards, and the bed appeared to have seen only little use. He shared the room with a couple of other warrant officers. The men were free to leave the base after 6 PM, so the fellows invited Julius to go with them to Cologne for a bit of sightseeing. Soon it became apparent that the others were mostly interested in seeing the sights that the brothels of the old city had to offer. Julius politely declined their company (he had no intention of betraying Leni's trust) and went on his own to visit some of the famous locations of Cologne.
He spent a good while marveling the awe-inspiring and world-famous cathedral of the city and posted a card to Leni to let her know he had safely arrived at Butzweilerhof and was now eagerly waiting for the next phase of his adventure to begin.
Julius returned to the field well before midnight and went to sleep in the barracks hoping that tomorrow would finally see him assigned to a squadron somewhere - anywhere! - on the Western front.
"Upon my word I've had as much excitement on a car as in the air, especially since the R.F.C. have had women drivers."
James McCudden, Five Years in the Royal Flying Corps