Hasse - A great encounter, but hard luck about the stoppage! The Quirk that got away...the exchanging of rude gestures made me laugh. Knights of the sky, indeed!! You'll get 'em next time. Scout - Interesting development - the men of MacKinlay's squadron are growing restless of his sympathetic side, perhaps? I wonder what kind of dynamic he'll have with the scout squadron he ends up in...and indeed, how he'll fare in aerial combat! Looking forwards to finding out more.
Carrick - Jasta 11?! Be careful around those artists - let's hope you aren't reunited this time next year!! Good job hanging in there with them.
MFair - Glad Jericho managed to get a quite couple of days in, without those damnable Fokkers arriving to ruin the afternoon. Looks like some pretty accurate bomb-dropping, too - especially considering the weather! Good stuff.
Fullofit - Excellent news! Glad Gaston is back on the right side of the mud. What a great conclusion to one of my favourite story lines so far - I don't envy poor Gaston seeing the mud up close. But, rather selfishly, I could have happily read a few more episodes of Gaston's 'great escape'. I wonder how the whole ordeal will effect his cold, methodical approach in the air...
2nd. Lieut. Graham A. Campbell, Awaiting New Posting, London, England.
March 30th, 1916.
Once freed from my harrowing dreams, I stumbled down in a sleepless daze to the sitting room. Feeling down in the dumps about not returning to No. 20, I decided I ought to send Switch-Off & Jimmy Reynard some parting gifts, as well as a letter explaining that I would not be coming back. Turning off of Jermyn Street onto Piccadilly, I headed to Fortnum & Mason, the Department Store.
After much deliberation, I decided to spend the last of Aunt Ina’s money on two provision boxes for my friends, to be shipped to them at Clairmarais. No doubt a Batman would deliver the parcel to our billett. The box I chose for them was luxurious - filled with plenty meats, cheeses, jams & marmalade, and other condiments, as well as a carton of 100 cigarettes, a plentiful supply of rolling tobacco and some soap.
Before heading out from the Cavendish, I had prepared my note wishing them, and the rest of the chaps, the best of luck, and included a friendly wager that whichever one of us had the most Huns to their credit by war’s end would buy the rest of the chaps the first ‘victory round’ of beers. I concluded by mentioning I would write from my new squadron at first opportunity. I requested the letter to be sent within the same large wooden lockbox as the supplies. It was a melancholic feeling as the parcel was prepared and whisked away into storage - for it felt just like I had written some kind of obituary for our friendship.
Heading to Picadilly Circus to watch the towering double-decker buses roll past, I told myself that I was being rather too dramatic. After all - we would still be in the Somme region together, and I could visit by air anytime I had a 24-hour pass! I managed to cheer myself up slightly, picturing myself arriving on my new machine, in my new uniform at Clairmarais. “My!” Switch-Off would say, “You look so different!”. I would laugh, and ‘order’ Jimmy Reynard, still only a Sergeant, to do 20 pushups for my amusement. Of course, he would then respond by introducing me to the intricacies of Glaswegian insulting. Of course, in these daydreams I was flying a De Haviland or Nieuport Scout.
My time in London was nearly up - tomorrow I would head to Mason’s Yard for my posting, and I would presumably be heading back to France with the start of April. I would sorely miss the luxurious decadence of the late-night parties at the Cavendish, and the long, inconsequential idle chats over alcohol, but none of London’s allure held a candle to the camaraderie I had come to know in France. I sorely hoped that the new squadron would turn out to be as fine a group of fellows as No. 20 was.
As evening came, I decided to indulge myself in my last night of revelry, and at the inevitable soiree in Rosa’s sitting room I let the brandy flow into my ever-depleted glass, knocking back the liquid and screwing my face up with each bite at the back of my throat. I loudly and drunkenly bragged of my encounters with Fokkers, to the enjoyment of the officers and the muted amazement of those among us who had not been to the war. Working like an artist off of the liquid courage, I swapped war stories with airmen, approached the many young ladies, and generally made an obnoxious nuisance of myself. However - this was London - to be obnoxious was to be interesting, to return from France was to be gallant and dangerous. Through these fortunate circumstances, the last moments of the evening were shared with a young lady whose honour I will not tarnish by elaborating further.
I found myself awakening, still slightly inebriated but now feeling the consequences of my decadence, in the first hours of morning, and strode out to the balcony, looking out over the rooftops of London. Against the deep, dark blue sky were one or two thin, wispy lines of chimney smoke. It was a magnificent city, and in that solitary moment I was proud to be fighting for it in the cold, relentless skies of France. I looked into Piccadilly, envisioning us all celebrating on our day of victory. I wondered how long the war would last - and what we would do after.