Hasse - So, Julius is getting his hands on a Fokker! Us RFC boys will have to watch out...especially if he gets a turn in one of those E.IVs...
carrick - and the weather had turned so nice, too!
Scout - Congratulations to Buckminster! Glad your escorts are looking after you well. And good work too, downing huns with hose offset guns! A regular pair of Hawkers, there...
...as for Graham, it's off to Blighty! Safe from harm for the next couple of weeks. Phew!
2nd. Lieut. Graham A. Campbell, No. 20 Squadron R.F.C, Calais, France.
March 22nd, 1916.
The rain continued to pour over our heads as we sat in the mess. Delicate piano notes drifted from the corner - Pierson had arrived back at the aerodrome early in the morning and, due to all flights being cancelled again, had made for his usual haunt.
The chaps were talking about machines, ours and the Hun’s, eagerly. “The DeHav outmatches the Fokker in every way! I don’t see why they aren’t handing them to every squadron on the front!” Graves excitedly told us, as Tepes shook his head. “Yes, but it’s awful for spins. I’d much rather have a Nieuport. Did you know the RNAS fellows have them? Caudrons, too!”. Normie piped up. “I’d take either over our Fees. Did you hear that Edwards encountered a Fokker the other day with two guns at its nose? It must be a newer type, and I hope we shan’t see any more appear!”.
Eagerly they chatted, but I wasn’t listening. Instead, I was thinking of one of my first Solo flights on the old Quirks at Hounslow. I had seen a grouping of balloons toward the coast, which made me long for France, and war. It seemed strange to me now that I should be so excited. I thought back to the day Switch-Off, Jacky-Boy and I had been assigned to No.20, and how elated we were, three months ago in England. Had it been three months only? It felt like a year.
With no flying to be done, I had decided not to prolong my stay in France, and at noon I said my farewells before stepping into the front passenger seat of the Crossley bound for Calais. As the truck pulled away, and Clairmarais disappeared behind the trees, it dawned on me. I was going home. I realised that I couldn’t imagine myself walking the streets of London, enjoying the privileges of a Gentleman Officer’s life as the chaps were sitting, bitterly cold, at 10,000 feet, streaked in oil and filth and keeping watch for the deadly Fokkers. Graves had suggested to me that I enjoy my leave at the Cavendish Hotel near Covent Garden, a favourite of R.F.C types, but also of Socialites. As he had explained, “Everybody who is anybody in London knows Rosa Lewis, and her fine establishment! You simply must go”. I was apprehensive - I was not used to such extravagance - but as Normie had warned me, “As an officer, you are expected to be a gentleman. You’ll have to get used to it sometime, Campbell!”.
The sky was darkening as we reached Calais, and so I found a quiet little hotel filled up with infantry and airmen that overlooked the water, and turned in for the night.