Lou and MFair, missing the target with your bombs is one thing. Getting to the target area and not finding it is another. Looks like engine trouble has its repercussions not only for Gaston but for Swany as well. Kids can be so mean. Jericho has his head screwed on his shoulders pretty well. Following the leader and releasing his bombs at the same time is a sound tactic. This works as long as he’s not in the lead. One of those days he’ll have to make use of that bombsight. Better start practicing.
13 January, 1916 Toul, Verdun Sector Sergent Gaston A. Voscadeaux
As expected, the CO was not impressed with Gaston’s performance yesterday, but that’s just it: that was yesterday. Today is a new day that presents new challenges. Two new surprises waited for him this morning. First was a letter from his wife Violette, who enclosed her picture with the news from home. Gaston had asked for her photograph when he was visiting this Christmas. He will pin the picture to the Caudron’s instrument panel, so that he can keep her close every time he flies. The second surprise was not so pleasant. After hearing about Gaston’s inability to find the target yesterday, someone on the base thought it would be funny to leave a pair of old glasses for him. They were sitting in the mess hall on the table where Gaston usually ate his meals. There was a note attached to the glasses: Pour Papa Avocado. Gaston was nervous when the mission target was announced and he revealed how he felt to Adj. Mezergues, who would lead B flight again today. Gabriel, who felt partially responsible for yesterday’s fiasco tried to put Gaston at ease and explained that finding rail yards was much easier than factories. All they had to do is follow the train tracks. Seemed simple enough and hopefully this time around Mezergues would lead them all the way to the target and back. The sky was relatively clear with only a few clouds here and there. Gaston found the gusts of wind more of a challenge, preventing him from keeping a tight formation. He preferred to keep a healthy distance for the fear of crashing the ships into each other. Sgt. Levy in A flight did not have any problems with keeping formation as he was the only member of that flight and disappeared from view shortly after take off. On the way, they’ve picked up two single-seat scouts as escorts. Wow, those Nieuport 10’s sure looked pretty! Gaston continued to look up and behind to catch one more glimpse of the fighters and imagined what it would be like to fly one of them. Just as Adj. Mezergues pointed out, finding the rail yard system at Verdun NE junction was made simple by following the tracks all the way in. The leader initiated the bombing run and Gaston followed as close as he dared. They dropped their two 30kg bombs one after another and as they passed overhead they were treated to a fireworks display. All bombs found the target and the entire station was engulfed in black smoke, dust, earth and flaming debris. Gaston was shocked how much damage their bombs inflicted, but soon realized that they must’ve hit the train carrying ammunition. The damage was significant. There was little time to admire their handiwork as the Flak batteries attempted to even the score. Thick black clouds of acrid smoke enveloped their machines and followed them all the way until they flew out of range. Gaston kept close to Mezergues’ machine at full throttle until they both passed the frontlines on their way out. He relaxed only after all the puffs of smoke had disappeared and on the way to the aerodrome started to think that maybe the damage done to this rail yard will in some small way redeem him for yesterday’s mission. Maybe “Papa Avocado” won’t stick either?
"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."