Wulfe, that was a close one indeed. A few inches farther forward and Sgt. Fullard would have been receiving les Croix de Bois. As to the Médaille Militaire, it is an unusual award in that it can only be given to NCOs as a valor award or long service medal, or to generals or admirals who have served as commanders-in-chief as a supreme award for leadership. Officers do not qualify for it.
Fullofit, Gaston just continues to drive up his score. The man really is a wonder.
28 May, 1916 Fienvillers, France 70 Squadron, R.F.C. Lt. Randolph Arvid Swanson, MC & Bar, CdG 12 confirmed victories
"Denied due to lack of visual confirmation" was the official word handed down on two of the three claims put in yesterday by A Flight. The only claim awarded was that submitted by Lt. Phillip Knight and his G/O, Lt. Collin Hull. While Swany wasn't sure how the others felt about it, he didn't care one whit about having his claim rejected, he was simply glad to now be flying a bus that could run rings round the Hun. He had his second opportunity to take the Strutter up over the lines during this morning's patrol, which turned out to be nothing more than a tour of the front. Not a single enemy plane was seen, and Archie was very light, so the entire crew was allowed to enjoy the outing without interruption or concern.
After landing and turning in his report, and after a brief conversation with the CO, Lt. Swanson took a stroll into town to inquire about rooms that might be available. He'd decided he would like to try living somewhere other than in camp as he'd been doing that since coming over in January. Not that the officers' billets weren't fine, (they were), he just wanted to have a go at the local housing for a change. After some checking about he was directed to head along the Rue de la Gare to the east and look for a large old two-story house with cream-colored stucco and a russet tile roof. The woman there had been renting out nice, tidy rooms since the war began, and at a fair price.
A short walk later and Swany located the described estate. It sat on the north side of the road just passed the rail line near the edge of Candas, and it was a lovely old building despite showing its age. After knocking at the door several times a small, elderly woman answered. Her face was stern and she seemed annoyed that whatever she'd been doing had been interrupted. She smoothed her dark grey hair with a wrinkled hand as she looked Lt. Swanson up and down, her sharp brown eyes taking him in. She noted the wings sewn neatly on his tunic and seemed thoroughly unimpressed; equally so by the Military Cross with silver rosette above them. However, upon spying the ribbon of the Croix de Guerre her face beamed.
"Aaah, you have been presented one of our high honors, you must be a very brave young man", the woman proclaimed. "I am Madame Corcelles. And you are?"
"Lieutenant Randolph Swanson, from the RFC camp up the road", Swany responded in his best French.
"Well of course you're from the RFC camp up the road, where else would you be from? And I imagine you are here about a room, yes?"
"Yes madame, I am. I was told you have some of the nicest rooms available in the area and offer them at a price that is most affordable."
"Some of the nicest!?" The woman was taken aback. "I have THE nicest rooms anywhere and you would be lucky to have one at any price."
"Apologies madame, I did not mean to offend, I was only repeating what I was told in town", Swany replied with a sheepish grin on his face. He had come to the immediate conclusion that this woman tolerated very little.
"Yes, well, that's fine - no need to apologize - how would you know. But once you see the rooms, THEN you'll know. Come with me." The woman grabbed the Lieutenant's hand and practically dragged him through the doorway. Swany was surprised at just how strong she was, given her apparent age and diminutive stature.
A short while later, after a tour of the estate and a showing of the rooms, Mme Corcelles announced that an accommodation was available and that Swany could take it, provided he would be a clean, quiet tenant, and pay his bill on time. With that an agreement was reached and the Lieutenant was given a wonderful little second floor apartment on the corner facing the rail line and the street. The negotiated price included breakfast, and if he also wanted supper that could be had for an additional five francs a week.
After Swany had paid the first two weeks in advance, the Madame presented her newest renter his room key, then, in no uncertain terms, outlined the rules of the house. "There is to be no food preparation of any kind in the rooms. If you choose to smoke you may do so in the parlor or outside in the garden, and NOWHERE ELSE. You may not have women up in your room, EVER. You will entertain guests only in the parlor or the garden, and only until 9:30 pm. You will be very quiet when rising, and as I know you will likely be up early on occasion to go off and do your flying I will have a cold breakfast set out if you wish to take it. Otherwise, hot breakfast is served between 7:30 and 9:00 every morning. If you choose to join us for supper, it is served promptly at 7:00 pm. You will be sure your boots are clean before entering my house, there is a scraper and a brush outside each door. Please be out of your room between 10:00 and 11:00 in the morning as that is when cleaning and tidying is done. Do you understand these rules?"
Swany assured Mme Corcelles that he most certainly did.
"Good. I am sure you will find it very pleasant here Lieutenant, and you will soon discover that I am a very fine hostess. I take great pride in my establishment." The women grabbed Swany's hand for the second time since their meeting and shook it firmly as she added, "It will be a pleasure to have a hero such as yourself staying with us. And remember, rent is due on Monday every week, no exceptions."
Swany chuckled to himself a fair portion of the way back to camp as he thought about his new landlady. The woman was a real pistol, of that he had no doubt.