Fullofit: Glad to have Le Violet back. I wouldn't worry about not seeing the Hun - they'll make a reappearance soon enough. In the meantime, perhaps the rest of us can start catching up
Maeran: Fantastic description of Stanley's arrival at 32. Very much looking forwards to hearing about his exploits in a DeHav! Nice touch, mentioning Jutland as well. As for the Monosoupape, I suppose the pilot could use the mixture as an impromptu throttle, although I think pilots typically relied on the blip switch.
Adj. James B. Fullard, Esc. N.124 'Americaine', Bar-le-Duc, France.
June 25th, 1916
The morning of Victor’s funeral, the sky opened up, pouring forth pathetic fallacy and drenching wartorn France in its misery. We stood in a semicircle around the closed casket, over which a local priest from Bar-le-Duc presided. Our heads were bowed and our faces serious. From underneath the black umbrella he held aloft shimmered rounded spectacles, two otherworldly eyes scrutinising us from within a sunken, gaunt face, accented by silver stubble. On the priest’s lips was a faint upward curve, almost a sneer, from behind which tobacco-stained teeth flashed.
Between the sentences, the priest’s tongue would slap around the inside of his mouth, flick over the corners of his cracked, dry lips, as if tasting the air. His mannerisms were slow, his head seemed to lull left and right to dramatize his ritualistic dialogue. He reminded me of my father in temper, cold and quietly scornful. Disappointed. Was this an agent of god? It seemed to me he was some ancient entity, sent to claim Victor’s soul from his body.
We watched quietly as Victor’s coffin was lowered down into the earth beside my brother’s grave, the second to be interned in the Squadron Cemetery, before we traversed the duck-boards back towards the edge of the aerodrome, where several Fords awaited us. There, we passed the day unenthusiastically reading through the newest American papers, and playing cards. Nobody had the energy to challenge Bert Hall’s cheating. In the French papers, I noticed the name of my old friend, Jean Chaput, who had already scored four victories with Escadrille 57, bringing his tally to seven. I should write Chaput, and the others at N.31 as well, I told myself.
On the 25th, two new pilots arrived at the aerodrome, one of whom was none other than the famous aviation pioneer Dider Masson. I distinctly remembered when I was seventeen, my younger brother Andrew and I pleading with our father to allow us to make the long journey to California, where Masson had been exhibiting his flying. Even in our current state of affairs, the men were excited to meet such an experienced aviator. Unfortunately, we would not be able to see a display of Masson’s skills quite yet, as the rain continued to saturate the land, and flying was impossible.