The snowfall came to an end late yesterday. Gaston and the rest of the Escadrille were waiting impatiently for this day and the chance to take their new aeroplanes up in the air and test them out. Caporal Papinet of the “A” flight was tasked with arty spotting south of St. Mihiel and Gaston with his wingman, Caporal Dreux and Adjutant Barnay in the “B” flight were providing cover. Gaston was the first one up in take off cue. He was up in the air in two shakes of a lamb's tail, completely being astonished how quick and agile his machine was. He was itching to pit it against one of the Boche monoplanes. For a moment it looked like Papinet was going to scrub the mission. His N12 continued to circle the aerodrome, but eventually everything sorted itself out and they were on their way. Voscadeaux marveled how fast his new plane was. It was a race car of the skies, completely outclassing all the previous models. Caporal Papinet with his escort in tow arrived over the target and busied himself with the ranging duties. The “B” flight circled nearby looking out for any hostile machines that would dare approach. It didn’t take long before one of them appeared on the horizon. It was an Aviatik and by the time its crew realized what was about to happen and got their crate turned around, Gaston and his two wingmen were all over them. Voscadeaux took the first turn and nearly collided with the two-seater, such was the speed of the new scout to which Gaston wasn’t accustomed. Next, it was Cpl. Dreux who followed close by. He replicated Gaston’s approach and attack angle, but this time the Boche was ready. Gaston watched as the German rear gunner sent a lethal volley into Dreux’s engine compartment. The machine immediately caught on fire and its pilot lost all control, perhaps killed instantly. The Nieuport ploughed into the top starboard plane of the Aviatik before plunging down trailing a thick tail of black smoke in enemy territory. It all happened so quickly that Gaston didn’t even have time to cry out “No!” He realized the control column was digging into his clenched fist. He was furious and vowed to avenge his fallen friend. Adj. Barnay and Gaston took turns at pecking at the damaged enemy crate and finally Gaston's last volley brought the two-seater down. He watched it plummet towards the ground in a nearly vertical dive. It was a small consolation to watch the Hun go down. They rejoined the “A” flight and turned back home. Gaston didn’t feel like celebrating. His friend was gone. His funeral would be performed, if at all, for a pilot with no name. His grave lost and forgotten.
"Take the cylinder out of my kidneys, The connecting rod out of my brain, my brain, From out of my arse take the camshaft, And assemble the engine again."