This is becoming an every outing routine, and not one Swany is fond of.
2nd Lt. Swanson and his G/O Captain Craig, along with two other teams from B Flight, were given a recce this morning of the lines down at Athies. Weather was dreadful with snow hindering them throughout the entire sortie. After reaching their assigned area they began the recce and things were going well for the first 15 minutes or so at which point a trio of Eindeckers came diving down on them. It turned into a free-for-all with the Moranes doing their best to stay out of the Hun's collective lines of fire. Swany and Daniel paired off with a particularly aggressive enemy pilot who was likely a veteran, given the way he handled his mount. Both planes gave up altitude as they turned and twisted in efforts to gain an advantage over the other. Swany used every trick he knew to avoid the hail of bullets that came repeatedly, hoping he was offering his gunner some opportunities to return fire. Luck was favoring the British team, and after what seemed an eternity the Captain got a solid shot into the front of the Hun machine. Swany watched as their attacker tumbled down out of control, crashing into the mud several miles south of Athies. A quick assessment of the situation showed they were now alone, with their Morane handling oddly. The controls felt loose and sloppy and it was hard to hold a true course. 2nd Lt. Swanson turned their bus to the northwest and cautiously flew back to camp, slowly buying back altitude as he did so, just in case they needed it should the engine decide to conk. 25 minutes later they were gliding in to land at Auchel. After pulling up to the hangar and shutting down the Le Rhône Swany breathed a long sigh of relief. This made the third sortie in a row that they had been attacked. If this kept up he wondered when luck would switch sides and it would be him and the Captain laying dead in the mud. Not a comforting thought. Swany and Craig climbed out of their bus and made their way to the Adjutant's Office to fill out their AARs and claim forms. Along the way the Captain commented on what a fine job of flying the Lieutenant had done and that he was going to make a point of mentioning it, both in his report and to the CO. Later in the day the news came that one of the two previous day's claims had been approved for the pair, while the other had been rejected due to lack of visual confirmation. This left today's claim to be decided upon. Swany had no idea what the Brass Hat's were using as evidence or guidelines to decide which claims should be awarded, but he had a hunch it was a dart board.