Hasse, I will try to refrain from any cliffhangers in the future!
Lt. Mark Jericho Over the front 1:00 oclock
C Flight had just made their bombing run on Douai aerodrome and was forming back up when 3 Eindecker's came down on them. Jericho saw tracers flash past and turned out. He was face to face with the 3 Hun machines. They flew over him to the other two Moranes in the flight. As he came about 360 degrees he saw the French escorts come down on the Eindeckers. "Gotta love those Frenchies!" he thought. In an instant the Huns and N10's were down below having it out and the 3 Moranes were forming back up to head the 8 miles back to the lines. Going back they were bucking a headwind which was slowing their progress and bouncing them all over the sky. It was then that the Archie opened up in earnest. Jericho had seen worse but this was as accurate as he had seen. Suddenly a burst near the machine flung it sideways and Jericho felt something hit him in the back of the head. He felt as though he had been thrown from a horse. He was fighting to keep his head as his vision blurred a bit. He could also feel warm liquid running down the back of his neck. He did not know how bad he was hit and was concentrating on keeping the Morane in formation. After a few miles he could see the lines ahead under the clouds. When they went through the cloud back he tried to hold everything steady. It seemed to go on for ever. When they came through the other side the lines were just ahead and Jericho sighed in relief. It was a brief respite as the engine sputtered and quit. Jericho's vision was a bit blurry but he could still think. Evidently their fuel lines had been cut. He switched the magneto's off and started looking for a place to come down. Could they make it to the other side? He wasn't sure. As the Morane slowed in the headwind Jericho put the nose down to gain flying speed again. He did some fast guessing and knew they were not going to make it over the lines. He could see the faces in the grey uniforms as they flashed over the German trenches. They must have caught them by surprise as there was little rifle or machine gun fire. He finally saw the remnants of an old road and made for it. Between the head wind and no power the Morane swung side to side as it approached the ground. They hit the road and bounced, coming down on the left wing and then if by a miracle they were upright and rolling to a stop.
As soon as they stopped both he and Christian unbuckled and jumped out of the Morane to the ground. Christian started to crawl for the friendly trench when he saw Jericho was having trouble getting up. He grabbed Jericho by the shoulder and started pulling him. "You got to get up Mark! They will start shelling this place soon!" Jericho finally found his legs as they began to crawl toward the English trench. A German machine gun opened up and they went into a shell hole for cover. "Can you make it?!" Christian asked. "I'm good" Jericho replied. Then the German guns started shelling the Morane. It gave them the cover they needed and begin to crawl toward the trenches. 6 of the English 4th Army came over the top and helped them the last few yards into the trench. "Are you hit Mark!" Christian asked Jericho. " Back of my head" was all he could say. Christian looked and saw the torn leather of Jericho's flying helmet. "Easy mate, Let me have a look" Christian said as he eased off the leather hood.
Two corporals helped the two to an aid station near them. "Thats a nasty gash old boy" the medic said. "Another half inch and your war would be over" he added. Jericho replied "Just get me stitched up Doc. I got a whole new appreciation for that d@#ned Archie! I sure do appreciate your help."
Jericho and Christian arrived back at Auchelle that night. Christian relayed the medics words to the Major that Jericho was not to fly for 3 days and to make sure there was no sign of concussion.
Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear or a fool from either end. BOC Member since....I can't remember!