17 January, 1916 Toul, Verdun Sector Sergent Gaston A. Voscadeaux
“- ...ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Amen.” The priest made a sign of cross with his hand to bless the two coffins lying side by side, ready to be lowered into the graves that were dug last evening. The two altar boys standing behind the priest looked completely bored having attended countless ceremonies like this one. There were no family members present at this funeral. The closest to family were members of Escadrille C17 present to pay their last respects. The pallbearers lowered the coffins into the ground and the CO was the first to pick up some dirt and throw it on each coffin. The rest of the squad members followed by forming a line. There was a simple wreath hanging from each cross at the head of the grave obscuring the plaque with the names. Sergent Niels Reille 1897-1916 and Caporal Bartlett de Neufville 1880-1916. And that was it, that was the end of another two lives. Gaston attended many of such funerals ... and worse. He hated this. He hated how savage people have become in spite of the evolution. Killing for what? On whose orders? Le President? Der Kaiser? The King? Madness! It was late in the afternoon. The ceremony was over and the pilots were dispersing. The only one left standing over the two fresh graves was Gaston’s gunner, Adjutant Ernest Becquerel, as always silent with his pipe between the teeth, shaggy beard and a look of desolation. Gaston paused and wondered what the big bear was thinking. Did he know any of the two men well? Maybe one day he will find out. Gaston was walking back to the aerodrome replaying in his mind this morning’s mission. There were a few raids lately on their aerodrome, so it was high time to return the favour. Gaston and Caporal Sourdiac were tasked with bombing the Mars-la-Tour aerodrome. Their two machines were complemented by another one in A flight piloted by Sergent Levy. The weather was picture-perfect and the visibility excellent. They were able to find their target with ease and drop their bombs with a good degree of accuracy. A few hangars were set on fire and the large brick house was damaged as well. They were lucky to avoid any enemy scouts and returned safely back with time to spare to prepare for the funeral. Gaston prayed that he would not have to attend another one any time soon.
"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."