Fullofit - Sacré bleu, Gaston is a killing machine - and a dead eye! How you can be so accurate I'm sure I don't know. I'm thankful he's on Fullard's side! By now every Bosche in the Verdun region (and a few in the Somme) must be having nightmares about seeing Violette coming their way...maybe except for the Aviatik pilots, who seem to have figured out something that the Eindecker boys haven't. I got a good laugh out of your likening of Lemoine to Depardeiu's Obelix - you hit the nail on the head
MFair - glad to see our favourite hotheaded cowboy back, and up to his usual tricks again! I suspect that the miserable little infantry captain can't quite appreciate quite how close of a call he's had...lucky that faithful Christian was on hand!
Scout - Great stuff! MacKinley gets his first confirmed and keeps his conscience clean in the process! I wonder if there might be a future in balloon-busting for our Glaswegian airman....
...as for James - MORE RAIN! I'm itching to get out on patrol again and put some hours in..
Sgt. James B. Fullard, Esc. N31, Ochey Aerodrome, France.
April 14th, 1916.
We were met with another morning of heavy rain, much to my slight disappointment and everybody else’s sheer jubilation. As I settled down for breakfast, I expressed to Ortoli my concerns that I had done little of anything regarding the war since my arrival in France. With a hearty, bellowing laugh he called out “Do you hear that, boys? Fullard is worried he’ll miss the war! Well, don’t you worry, mon ami passionné, there will be plenty fighting to be done in the springtime. But, I must tell you! After a month or two in the thick of it you, too, will pray for days such as these!” I found it hard to believe him - it felt cruel, to be left idle at an aerodrome with no chances to fly, and I found myself slightly bitter over my expectations, when compared to this damp reality. During our idle chatter I became lost in thought, replaying the events of my single dogfight, and the exhilaration I had felt. I longed again for the chance to experience the thrill I had felt in that battle.
The day passed as had the last - idly the pilots chattered among themselves, played cards, and wrote letters home. We were cured temporarily of our boredom when Georges brought the fresh mail into our mess, distributing it among its recipients, but no word came from Michael. As little Devienne paraded a letter from his Parisian sweetheart, holding it up closely to an uninterested Lemoine’s face, Ortoli flicked through the latest newspaper, tutting and shaking his head as he read of the carnage that continued to drain the life of Verdun, and the French armies defending it.
Later in the evening, Tartaux, the pilot of the missing Breguet, arrived back at the aerodrome, drenched and stained with blood. After Lemoine and I had broken away from the front, he had lost sight of us and turned East. It turns out that the two Fokkers that had broken away from our fight were not running for home as I’d thought, but instead they had been observing Tartaux’s undefended Biplace, stalking it from a distance before, sure that Lemoine and I had exited the area, they came down in screaming dives, attacking Tartaux and his observer. The man in the back seat was quickly shot and fell unconscious, as Tartaux fought tooth-and-nail to rid himself of his attackers. Despite his best efforts, his engine was shot through and ground to a halt, at which point Tartaux was forced to attempt a landing in no-mans-land. His plane came down heavily and was destroyed, with both men being thrown clear. Fortunately, Tartaux had little more than a sprained elbow, and, waiting until darkness, he was able to escape back towards the French lines. Regrettably, his observer, Bertillon, was dead.
“Good old Tartaux!” Lemoine cried, “The Bosche will never get that old wolf!”. “Yes, but such a shame about poor Bertillon” “Which one was he, again?” “ ᴛʜᴇ sᴍᴀʟʟ ᴏɴᴇ, ʙʟᴀᴄᴋ ʜᴀɪʀ ᴀɴᴅ ɢʀᴇᴇɴ ᴇʏᴇs, ᴄᴀɴ'ᴛ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ʙᴇᴇɴ ᴀ ᴅᴀʏ ᴏʟᴅᴇʀ ᴛʜᴀɴ sᴇᴠᴇɴᴛᴇᴇɴ ”. “Ah, oui. Bertillon”. “You wait and see, I bet Tartaux will be up and flying tomorrow again!”.
As I climbed into my cot that night I tried to picture the face of the young observer, standing beside the Biplace Nieuport on the morning of my first mission, but I couldn’t remember it. I wondered how many of the pilots could still picture Victor’s face.