For the second day in a row Gaston was flying along Adjutant Mezergues to the St. Mihiel salient on a reconnaissance mission. Yesterday was a dull flight and today appears to be more of the same. They were to note any troop and vehicle movements. He was glad they had a Nieuport escort them to the lines, especially after recent Fokker attacks. They were lazily floating over the trenches at a safe altitude and watched as vehicle columns moved below. The other advantage of having an escort was that they could spend more time looking down instead of looking for enemy scouts. The Nieuport would chase them away, or at least warn them ahead of time. Another column went by. Gaston looked up to check on their little friend buzzing above them. Still there. He went back to sleepily following enemy columns when he was shaken out of his reverie by bullets hitting his plane. Gaston jumped out of his skin and looked around. There was nothing. He looked up again at their “protector” that should be watching over them. Still there, flying as if nothing ever happened. Then he noticed Ernest in the front seat tracking something with his forward-firing Lewis. Gaston curiously followed the movement of the machine gun. A pale shape appeared from below flying across their flight path and moving to the rear. A single Aviatik sneaked under their formation and the German gunner was taking potshots at them. Voscadeaux, without thinking much, banked to follow the Boche. They were gaining on him and Becquerel opened fire from a long distance. Gaston was sure he could hear Ernest laugh maniacally. It may have been the wind. They were close now and Gaston could see the starboard aileron had been shot off. He was flying straight as an arrow for fear of going into a spin. Meanwhile Mezergues came around from the other side in a pincer maneuver. The Hun was “surrounded”. Becquerel kept on firing and inflicting more damage. He could see bits of debris flying off the damaged crate, but it kept on going. Not even a small trail of smoke or vapour. And then Becquerel’s ammo run out. Gaston could swear he heard Ernest curse: “ ...erde, merde, merde!” But, again, it could have been the wind. All of a sudden Becquerel jumped to the rear-facing gun and tried to bring it to bear, but it was no use. He paused and looked at Gaston. Gaston didn’t get it. Becquerel “pointed” at the Aviatik with is eyebrows, but was only met with a blank stare. He finally nudged his head toward the Hun and Gaston understood. He dove under the German machine, picked up speed and overtook it. Becquerel resumed his onslaught but the persistent Teuton remained unaffected. Gaston brought his Caudron too close and the German gunner was able to retaliate. More bullet holes appeared in the starboard wing, not too far from Gaston’s head. That was it. The risk was too great and Voscadeaux put an end to it. He let the Boche go and turned back. They were flying too deep into La Bochie. Becquerel was crestfallen. He couldn’t understand how that Hun was still afloat. It’s as if the Aviatik turned into the Aviatank. As Gaston was in the process of rejoining the formation, their escort had left. Either low on fuel or hit by Flak. No matter, they were done and on their way back home. All of a sudden, Mezergues' engines had stopped as well. His tank must have been punctured during the attack and had to glide the reminder of the way, settling in a clearing on the French side and most importantly: safe. Gaston was the only one to return to the aerodrome albeit with some holes of his own.
"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."