Wulfe, the story about Acker was a cracker. Well done! Lou, congratulations on becoming an ace. Swany’s progress had been remarkable. Even though Morane pilots are at a premium, he’ll be moving soon if this keeps up. HarryH, I love the looks of the journal. I hope you get some Zeppelin-hunting before too long. MFair, those spurs are beautiful. Your friend must have been really special. Fullofit, better luck with the claims soon, I hope. Carrick, I’m sorry to see Nigel go, but I’m looking forward to your new pilot.

Hasse, great to see such a great chapter from Julius. I’ll look forward to seeing him back in action. Lederhosen, congratulations on your promotion and victory. Fullofit, I loved the videos and photos. And the double victory over the Aviatik and the Fokker is the best cure for Campbell’s loss of Jacky-Boy! Scout, good to see Aleck iin the air again..

Collins is back in action, or inaction as the case may be.

An Airman’s Odyssey – by James Arthur Collins

Part Twenty-Four: In which I return to the war and nothing much happens

“I’m not much in favour of anaesthetic for little things like this,” the doctor explained as he drew another suture out of the inside of my mouth. I’m sure he had his reasons, but they escaped me. At least the process was quick.

The scar was really rather dramatic, an L-shaped red welt from the side of my right nostril up to the cheekbone and then downwards in a ragged line to my jaw. I should have to work on the story I’d tell the girls.

Mark Jericho was my saviour over the next few days. Major Harvey-Kelly and the RO swamped me with administrative work – “bumf” they called it – while I was restricted from flying, but each day I was able to get away to ride. Of course I’d ridden before. What Canadian farm boy hadn’t? And so it was that I was a little miffed when Jericho had me riding with my arms folded and my feet out of the stirrups. Did he think I’d fall off the #%&*$# thing? But it wasn’t long before I began to understand his approach. He called it “finding your seat.” The cynic in me wanted to tell him I had a fair idea where it was, but after a half-hour on Moon I was riding with a better feel and in greater relaxation that I’d known before.

Over the next few days I settled into a genuine rhythm with Moon, and then I repeated the process with Vulcan, one of the former cavalry chargers in our stable. Vulcan is not as tall as Moon, but he is broader in the beam. He was slower to react, but steady. Jericho and I would ride for an hour or so every evening before dinner. I must admit I was too much of a prig to emulate the American’s relaxed, rolling style on horseback, but I will announce to the world that the man is a marvel with horses. He reads them, and when he talks to them, they seem to listen and understand. I’ve never seen the like of him. And the fellow is a smith to boot. He has fashioned a pair of fine polished cowboy spurs for me. Beautiful work, although I question whether they go with the uniform. But wear them I shall.

Cleared to fly at last on 10 March 1916, I joined Captain Mealing on a patrol to drop bombs on the front near Vimy, where Empire troops are relieving the French, who are being hard pressed farther south at Verdun. We were to meet with some Bristols from 11 Squadron, but missed our rendezvous and continued alone. The Huns, however, were nowhere to be seen.

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Back in action

Sergeant Wilson, as he how is (again), is very proud of his achievement in becoming a recognized observer. He keeps telling me he wants to bag a Hun and I keep telling him I’ll be quite happy if he merely scares them off. Swanson is our star turn. He has five Huns to his credit already, while I haven’t even placed a claim yet. If my luck holds, I will be back in England before I see the next Fokker.

On 11 March, the Major led Sergeant Bayetto and us deep into Hunland to drop bombs on the aerodrome at Avelin. It was a dark and cloudy morning with high winds and bumpy air all the way. The Parasol was thrown about for two hours, nearly all of which was spent on the edge of a stall. Wilson and I spotted two Hun two-seaters over our lines as we returned to Auchel and I turned towards them, but they were too high and too quick and I had to give up the chase. I am getting to know Sergeant Bayetto and wish circumstances allowed us more opportunity to talk and socialise. He races automobiles and is an engineer with Fiat – all with the sort of dashing good looks of a genuine ladies’ man. His father is the head chef at the Carlton in London, and he has promised me that I will be taken care of in the dining room should I stay there whilst on leave.[1]


[1] Sergeant, later Lieutenant and Captain, Hyppolyte (Tone) Bayetto was born in London in 1892, the son of Hyppolyte Paul Bayettos of Torino, Italy, and his Belgian wife Rosalie. The elder Bayettos (Tone later dropped the S) was the headwaiter (Collins had it wrong) at the Carlton Hotel in London. Young Tone worked for Fiat and raced cars, and in 1911 he moved to India, where it is thought he worked for an automobile manufacturer. He took his Royal Aero Club certificate in 1913 and joined the RFC with the rank of Sergeant. He was posted to France in September 1915 with 1 Squadron before transferring to 3 Squadron.

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Last edited by Raine; 03/12/19 02:13 AM.