Maeran, Stanley's tale is coming in small but delicious sips. Don't stay away too long.
Fullofit, the tension is killing me. Very well crafted escape (I hope) story!
Lou, I absolutely loved the story of Swany in the tree and its connection to his current conditions. Now, where does the Georgette arc take us???
MFair, I'm glad you survived the encounter with the CO. Harvey-Kelly was a bit of a wild man, so I'd guess it's not his first dented fender. And I love the photo of Cappy. As you said, it tells it all. And I'm glad you had more success than Jimm at Haubourdin. Maybe we won't have to go back.
Wulfe, the new uniform nearly did its job. How did they let a WO into the Cavendish? You know, once they've seen a sergeant's uniform in there, all the boundaries are gone!
Carrick, I hope you get your front gun soon!
Scout, let's hope things stay quiet until you're out of Quirks.
An Airman’s Odyssey – by James Arthur Collins Part Thirty: In which we acquire a work of art
We got to sleep late on Monday, a Good Thing as I was nursing a bit of a headache. A little too much sauce on my goose, I told everyone at lunch. Wet snow was falling, and the orders delivered last night had changed twice already by noon. The fellows all agreed that we should not go up today. The gusts were too strong and the Moranes threatened to fly away if pushed out of the hangars. I found an armchair near the fire and spread an old newspaper out and fell asleep while pretending to read it.
I awoke with a start with the Major standing over me. “Come on, Sleeping Beauty. It’s time for you and Mother Goose to get some exercise.” Mother Goose was Sergeant Wilson’s new nickname since our hunting prowess had become fodder for the senior NCOs’ mess banter. I likely had a name too, but so far I had not found it out.
There was a new sergeant pilot, a man named Adams, and this would be his first patrol. Major Harvey-Kelly wanted him to join us as far as the lines, and had assigned him an experienced observer, McNaughton. Our task was to drop some bombs on the Hun aerodrome at Haubourdin, near Loos. A De Havilland was to meet with us on the way. We went out to the hangar and found our Parasol staked down outside and rocking in the wind. Four bombs were fixed to the undercarriage. The Ack Emmas were in a giddy mood, looking at each other and then at Wilson and me. Something was afoot but I was feeling too miserable to care what it was. Wilson was already in his seat, stowing drums for the Lewis gun. Just before climbing aboard, I walked around the machine and there it was. On the right side of the fuselage, just below the observer’s position, was a beautifully-rendered painting of Mother Goose. How it had been done was a mystery, for I recognized it at once. When I was six or seven, my mother and I had sailed to England to visit family at Christmas and we’d gone to Drury Lane to see Dan Leno in his new pantomime of Mother Goose – and the painting on our Morane was the very same as the one that was on the outside of the Drury Lane Theatre!
The flight was difficult because the winds buffeted our machines, which threatened to stall every few seconds. When we arrived at the lines, we circled to await the De Havilland. After twenty minutes, I pulled abreast of the Major, who was anxiously looking back at Sergeant Adams’ machine every few seconds. Adams was struggling to hold station. The Major pointed at the cowling of his Morane and signalled for me to separate. He was having some form of problem and did not want to leave Adams. It was growing dark already under the heavy cloud as I headed off into Hunland alone. Sporadic Archie escorted me to Loos, where I found the skies above Haubourdin’s empty. Three Fokkers were on the field, and mechanics were trying to guide them to the safety of their hangars. One tent hangar was blown down flat. I lined up the hangars and began a shallow dive, pulling the release lever at 2000 feet. Unfortunately I’d misjudged and my bombs carried past their intended destination and exploded harmlessly in the fields beyond. The air about me was thick with machine gun fire and several rounds smacked into our machine. We wasted no time in heading west. Three Fokkers approached from the south, about 2000 feet higher than us, but we made it away without their seeing us. We flew west into the setting sun and settled into Bruay as the last light died.
"We flew west into the setting sun..."
On Tuesday, 28 March 1916, I once again was given a chance to lead a patrol. Just two machines, mine and Sergeant Bayetto’s this time. We fought wind and rain down to Monchy and dropped bombs on the Hun trench lines. It was a ridiculous show. The Germans were in their deep dugouts while we were bounced around by a surfeit of Archie. But ours is not to reason why.