First thing this morning 2nd Lt. Swanson and Captain Craig enjoyed a nice, quiet recce of the front lines between the ruined towns of Vimy and Athies. Nothing in the sky other than their two flightmates and some light Archie. The pair were flying one of the back-up Moranes as their bus would require two days of repairs to have it airworthy again. The CO however did not want Swany to sit out that long, feeling it would be best to get the young pilot back up again ASAP so as not to risk him losing his nerve after yesterday's near disaster. It was a wise move. Swany had been very apprehensive about crawling back into the cockpit and winging off into the deadly skies. However, after ninety minutes or so of uneventful flying he was feeling more himself again, and as they were returning to Auchel he actually found himself enjoying the outing, as much as anyone can enjoy such an outing over a war zone. However, upon landing, and after turning in their reports, Swany's mood took a nasty turn when the CO informed him and Captain Craig that the Aviatik they had forced down was being awarded to an MG unit dug in at Thélus. According to their commander his men had been firing on the Hun plane as soon as it had come into range and it was the many hundreds of rounds his crew had pumped into the craft that had resulted in its downing. The fellow had apparently gone and inspected the trophy personally and noted all the venting in the wings, tail, and fuselage as proof positive the claim belonged to him and his gunners. Apparently, he had noted in his report to HQ that, while he appreciated the assistance of the two men in the British plane who served as "bait" to bring the German craft within range of the ground guns, it was clearly the efforts of his lads that had brought down the German plane, and in one piece no less. Whoever the braggart was he must have had some pull with the powers-that-be because he and his unit were awarded the confirmation. As angry as the young pilot was about the whole affair, the Captain seemed to take it in stride.
"No need to get your feathers in a ruffle, Swanson", Craig stated in a matter-of-fact tone. "It's still a Hun ship in our possession and one less in the air harassing us, no matter who gets the tick in their column."
The elder officer's words did nothing to stem Swany's ire. What did seem to help him calm down was the two hours he spent dropping one of the dead trees near the end of the runway and chopping it into a mountain of firewood. He didn't care that his left side ached through the entire exercise, if anything the pain caused him to push harder. Afterwards he took a cold shower, cleaned himself up, then went back to his room where he downed several drams of the Akvavit he'd received in the Christmas package from home. With that done he then grabbed stationary and pen and headed over to Jim's hut to see if he couldn't park himself in a quiet corner while he wrote a letter to his family.
"Ridiculous", he muttered to himself as he hiked across camp towards the hangars. "Bait!" he shouted out at one point. "A man nearly gets himself killed bringing down an enemy plane and they..." The rest of his rambling trailed off into space, which was just as well. At that moment what he thought of HQ, the MG unit's CO, and the British Army as a whole, was best left unheard.