Great stories all. Wulfe; those screenshots are true works of art.
Aleck A. MacKinlay March 17, 1916
Major Mills informed us that we would be doing recon up north, scanning the enemy positions near Nieuport. I perked up when he warned us that the German fliers were much more active in that sector, with a significant base of operations at nearby Ghistelles. "Fokkers sir?", Norton enquired. "Yes, a Marine squadron for sure and possible one other."
This all put us on a higher level of alertness than normal. We have all become used to vacant skies and acquired a bit of an all-in-a days-work attitude to our missions. Good to be reminded that there is a war on.
I followed Norton as he flew unerringly to the recon area and was pleased to see Captains Davis and Buckminster already there, circling opposite us in their Bristols. They would keep us safe. Suddenly I saw two more dots in the distance, off to the northeast. These must be Hun machines! These lazy specks drifted slowly south, paying us no attention but heading straight towards our escort. We watched in fascination as the four dots converged and began to dance; our Bristols were mixing it up with a couple of enemy aircraft! As we came around on our long circling path we got a front-row seat as Buckminster pursued one of the enemy machines, an Aviatik, firing. The enemy machine began to smoke and then plummeted past our starboard wing. It was thrilling to watch, but then suddenly I was shaking, sickened by what I had just seen. Two young men, like any of the lads I see every day around the mess table, dying in front of me. What thoughts had run panicking thought their minds on the long fall? Family? The things they would never get to do? Disbelief?
We returned to Abeele, where Buckminster was the centre of attention and recounting the mornings events loudly and animatedly to a crowd of pilots and observers gathered outside hanger one. The matter doesn't seem to have bothered him a bit, nor anyone else apparently. I dislike a braggart (which Buckminster certainly is), but can't begrudge him this moment of glory ... he did exactly what he was trained to do this morning, and did it well.
Addendum, March 18, carried out artillery ranging NE of Ypres, no problems.