2nd Lt. Swanson had the bloodlust. He received the news yesterday afternoon, along with the rest of the squadron, that his good friend James Collins had been shot in the face by a Hun attacker during the morning sortie. James had managed to put his bus down in one piece near a town called Sailly-sur-la-Lys, somewhere southwest of Armentières. He was now at one of the hospitals, likely at St. Omer, though that had not been confirmed yet. When the orders came down this morning for a bombing run on enemy positions over near Lomme, Swany was ready to go. It would put him and the Captain very near where Jim and his G/O had been attacked yesterday. Swanson informed Craig that, should an opportunity arise to go after a Hun plane, he intended to do just that, after their mission was completed of course. The Captain nodded, then cautioned the Lieutenant to "Be smart about it". The senior officer trusted his pilot as he had proven himself more than capable in a fight. He also knew how Swanson felt about his friend.
B Flight took off shortly before 9:00 and climbed up into another beautiful winter's sky. They had company in the form of escort from a lone N10C of Escadrille 15. The group flew to their destination without incident and dropped their eggs on the enemy far below. What damage they actually did was unknown but if nothing else it rattled nerves in the German trenches. As B Flight turned to begin the trip home the French plane dove down past them to engage a brace of Eindeckers about 2,000 feet below. Swany signaled to the Captain that he was doing the same and pointed the nose of their Morane down towards the enemy planes. By the time he had given up enough altitude to reach the Eindeckers the N10 was off a fair way to the south chasing one of the Hun. The other appeared to be in trouble and was slowly losing height as he flew eastward. Swany turned on the enemy plane and quickly closed the gap between them. He didn't care one whit if the fellow was injured or in trouble, this enemy was not going to make it back to his own, not if the Lieutenant had anything to say in the matter. Brief moments later the Eindecker was within range and the Captain began firing on him. The Hun attempted evasive action but it was obvious his mount was not responding well. He hadn't a chance. It took only two passes before the Eindecker dropped down near a copse of trees, hit the ground, and burst into flames.
"My gift to you Jim", Swany muttered under his breath as he swung the Morane around and headed back to camp. He didn't care if they received credit for the downing or not, nor did he care about the dressing down he was likely to get from the CO for breaking ranks. This was revenge for his friend, pure and simple.