Wow, great stories all around. Looks like everyone is getting their feet wet, especially Lou with his first claim. Congrats and I hope it will be confirmed, although I find brass usually rejecting that "first" one. They usually need a second claim to take you seriously. Fingers crossed. Gaston is happy to be finally flying again after the latest winter storms.
11 January, 1916 Toul Sergent Gaston A. Voscadeaux
It’s been snowing for the last 4 days. Gaston’s first flight to the front had to be postponed. In the meantime he was able to finally meet his mitrailleur. Adjutant Dumas was giving Gaston a tour of the aerodrome. “And here we have our mess room,” explained Dumas as they walked into the room. There were only a few pilots present. “Ah, bon!” Dumas continued. “Let me introduce you to your gunner. You’ll be spending a lot of time together, I expect.” They approached a lonely figure sitting at one of the tables, loading his pipe with tobacco, which he was picking from a sizeable pouch laying on the table. The man was large and most of his face was covered by a thick beard. His black hair needed a haircut and he seemed even older than Gaston. Dumas made the introductions, “Adjutant Ernest Becquerel meet Sergent Gaston Voscadeaux. He will be your new pilot.” Ernest raised his eyes to meet Gaston’s. Gaston gave him a meek smile. In return Becquerel made a sound that could only be translated as “Mmmmm” and went back to his pipe. Adjutant Dumas broke the silence, “Wonderful. Now that you’re acquainted, we will continue our tour. You can get to know each other better later.” Gaston wanted at least to shake the man’s hand, but Dumas was already leaving the room. “Glad to have met you and hope to talk to you soon. Bye!” Gaston quickly spat his farewell and ran after Dumas. The small adjutant was waiting for him outside rubbing his hands together for warmth. “Great! It looks like you two hit it off.” Dumas was excited. “How can you say that? The man barely said anything.” Gaston was surprised. “Well, he said more to you in 1 minute than to anyone else during the past week.” Adjutant Dumas was walking quickly. It was cold and the snow kept on falling. Finally on the 11th the weather turned and the flights resumed. Gaston was assigned to fly as a wingman to Caporal Sourdiac on a bombing mission up north with the target being a reserve lines depot. Capitaine de Bondy specifically instructed Voscadeaux to not cross the lines. “Follow Caporal Sourdiac to the front and then turn back. Is that understood, Voscadeaux?” Captain’s words were still ringing in Gaston’s ears as he was climbing to altitude behind Sourdiac’s machine. His new gunner was sitting in front looking around, keeping a vigilant eye for the Hun’s surprise attack. Gaston concentrated on keeping up with the leader and holding his place in formation. It annoyed him that Caporal Sourdiac kept playing with the throttle, preventing Gaston from keeping consistent distance apart. He nearly lost him when the other one flew into a cloud to keep his flight path to the front as uncomplicated as possible. Voscadeaux kept on stealing quick glances down below to try and navigate by himself, instead of blindly following the aircraft in front. But because Sourdiac kept on adjusting the throttle all the time he had to concentrate on his position, otherwise he’d end up smashing into the Caporal as he sped up and slowed down. It took all of Gaston’s concentration to fly in formation so much so that it took him by surprise when Ernest turned to face Gaston and pointed south with his gloved hand. At first, Gaston didn’t understand what he was pointing at, but after looking around and realizing they were flying over the NML, he quickly turned the plane around separating from the leader, who waved to them for good luck and continued on his way to the target. Gaston wanted to follow, but remembered his plane wasn’t loaded with bombs. Capitaine de Bondy made sure Gaston would follow his orders this way. It was now up to Gaston to get them back to base. It should be easy. Just fly south, keep the large forest de Puvenelle on his port side and look for the City of Toul when the River Meuse shows up on his starboard. From there on it was child’s play to locate the aerodrome on the outskirts of the forest de Haye. Gaston brought them down safely and rolled to a stop on the grassy landing field of the aerodrome and then waited for his leader to return with the tales of courage and heroism.
"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."