Lovely story, Hasse! I visited Bertincourt last year and it's all coming back.
Here's a quick one from Jim Collins...
An Airman’s Odyssey – by James Arthur Collins
Part Sixteen: In which a sentry become insentient
On making our dead-stick landing at Hesdigneul we trundled to the far end of the field before coming to a stop near a Bessonneau. Wilson and I clambered down and I fumbled for a cigarette to celebrate not ending up in a tree. Just then, a RFC sentry in greatcoat, helmet, and webbing ran up to us, bayonet fixed. “Get your bloody hands up, you Jerry b*****d!” the fellow shouted, waving the pointy end in my face.
“Look here, we’re British,” I said, and moved to push his rifle to one side. But the fellow gave me a poke in the chest, nearly damaging the leather of my flying coat.
“You’re not bloody British, you Hun. Get back,” he said, kicking out at me with one foot. He seemed not really in full control of himself.
That was when Wilson gave me my first lesson in Glasgow diplomacy. “Tak’ yer manky paws aff oor officer!” he said, and in one deft movement, he stepped beside the man’s rifle, crossed his forearms and grabbed the man’s greatcoat lapels. There was a loud crack as Wilson planted his forehead on the sentry’s nose, doing severe damage. I picked up the fallen sentry’s rifle and we made our way over to the nearest brick building.
A sergeant came running up, pistol drawn. I handed him the rifle. “You’ll need to post another sentry,” I told him. “That one’s broken.” An officer approached. I recognized a major’s crown and saluted.
“Have you just assaulted my sentry?” the major asked.
“I did, surr,” Wilson began. “The silly git...” I cut him off with the wave of a hand.
“I ordered the corporal here to disarm him when the man threatened to bayonet me and attempted to kick me, Major. James Collins, Lieutenant, 3 Squadron.”
The major looked from me to Wilson and back to me.
“Was that necessary?” he asked.
“Absolutely, sir,” I said.
“Och aye, surr,” Wilson added. “He was awa’ w’it, that yin, surr...”
“Quite enough, Corporal,” I said.
It cost me a few drinks, but we were spared a board of inquiry and I suggested a refresher lecture in aircraft recognition, as the sentry had clearly mistaken our monoplane for a Fokker. A tender arrived with a recovery team from Auchel and returned Wilson and me to our field. Wilson had met with a cold reception at the other ranks’ mess in Hesdigneul. I stopped the tender in Lozinghem on the way and bought a couple of bottles of beer for the poor fellow. I had some whiskey back in Auchel, but thought the better of becoming the man’s provisioner of fine spirits.
That night we visited Jericho, who is as he put it, “Fixin’ to get back in the saddle.” I took it upon myself to do a little scavenging and came upon a bin of discarded equipment that included two rubber cups with polished steel fastening that screwed into a length of flexible hose. I believe they were intended for administration of ether.
On my return to the field I spoke with the lead AM, explaining what I wanted, and by morning he had done his magic. One of the cups was fastened to a clip beside my seat and the other was similarly arranged in Wilson’s compartment. Each connected by a hose to a fitting in the side of the cockpit, from which a copper pipe ran from one cockpit to the other. With one mask held over the mouth and the other over an ear, it was possible to talk from one position to the other over the sound of the engine. The Ack-Emmas had even rigged a small red electric light that would illuminate at the press of a button to indicate that the other fellow wanted to talk. It involved struggling to adjust one’s helmet, but at least I’d be able to tell Wilson to load his flipping gun!
At two in the afternoon we flew with Mealing and Bayetto up to Ypres. The Captain conducted an artillery shoot while Bayetto and I covered his rear. We also had a French Nieuport watching over us all. After about an hour, Mealing signalled for us to head home. We were at 6000 feet, several miles northwest of Armentières, when I noticed several puffs of white smoke north of the city. There, down around 3000, were two Fokkers. It was most unusual to see them on our side of the lines. I signalled to Mealing and dived to check out the Huns, emboldened by the sight of the French Nieuport doing the same. One of the Huns headed east, but the other one had a mind to scrap with the Nieuport.
The Fokker had not seen us. I turned on the red light and grabbed the speaking tube, holding the mask to my mouth. “Get ready for a Hun on our left side and below. And be sure the gun is loaded this time!”
We came alongside the Fokker and the big black crosses seemed inviting. Wilson began firing short staccato bursts. The Hun began to tumble away. For a moment I was sure we had him, but he levelled out at 1000 feet. We dived on him again, but the Frenchman got to him first and gave him a good clout. Wilson fired a few rounds from long range. The Fokker spun into a beet field northeast of the city.
"We dived on him again, but the Frenchman got to him first..."
All credit to the Nieuport, I suppose, but Wilson and I both felt we’d done a good day’s work.