Raine, that was a dramatic encounter and you told it so well. Also, those Scottish jokes are killing me.

Here's the latest from Julius:


“Nothing can exist at the conclusion of the bombardment in the area covered by it.”

- General Sir Henry Rawlinson on the artillery preparation preceding the Battle of the Somme

Bertincourt, June 28th, 1916.

Julius felt a gentle summer breeze coming in from the open window of his room. He was sitting next to the window, reading a letter he had received from Leni von Steinmetz, his girlfriend in Berlin.

“…and when I met Hermann at your father’s apartment (we were waiting for him to arrive), I had a chance to chat with him a bit. Julius, I think he is a changed man now. Something seems to weigh heavily on his heart. I could see he was very proud of the great honor of becoming a Knight of the Pour le Mérite Order, but I also got the impression that he has had to pay a heavy price for that achievement. He brushed off my questions and said the Battle of Verdun has been quite unlike anything he has experienced so far and that nobody is having an easy time there, but he believes that the French must break soon and then we can finally put an end to this bloody war. I can only pray he is right. I hope you get a chance to talk with him soon, but of course I understand it may be very difficult for both of you to get leave at the same time…”

Julius lowered the letter and sighed. Suddenly the distant rumble of artillery seemed to get louder again. Since the 24th, the British guns had been relentlessly bombarding the Somme sector. Julius had never heard anything similar. It was obvious that a big push was going to happen soon. Maybe we’ll get our own Verdun here, Julius wondered. At least I’m not among the poor bloody infantry like Hermann! How anybody in the trenches could endure such destructive firepower was a mystery to Julius. Yet men on both sides of the lines did exactly that, often on a daily basis.

Fortune had finally favored Julius in the patrol flight he had flown yesterday above the Bapaume-Albert road. The offensive preparations had greatly increased the number of British machines operating behind German lines, and so Julius, taking advantage of cloud cover, had managed to surprise a Blériot type two-seater. He had fired nearly 300 rounds from his Spandau at the British plane, until it had finally spun out of control and crashed down on a field along the road. The two-seater had been a total wreck, and the mangled bodies of the unlucky British aviators had been a sorry sight. Upon seeing the men, Julius had felt like he was still very far from that archetype of the ruthless Prussian military brute bayoneting mothers and eating babies the enemy propaganda was so fond of portraying in cartoons and posters.

But war was war. There was no helping its draconian laws. If somebody had to die, Julius preferred it was those two Englishmen and not him or any of his friends.

Offizierstellvertreter Diemer’s sudden appearance in the doorway put a stop to Julius’s dark thoughts. The young Bavarian pilot was eager as always. “Julius, new orders! We just got a call from the Stofl[1] – he said an absolutely ridiculous number of enemy machines are operating on the XIV. Reserve-Korps sector. Every available scout is being thrown in there right now!”

“Well, that sounds like fun! The more the merrier, eh?” Julius stood up and without another thought began preparations for his next flight.

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[1] Stofl, Stabsoffizier der Flieger. The staff officer responsible for coordinating air operations in the sector of each German army.

"Upon my word I've had as much excitement on a car as in the air, especially since the R.F.C. have had women drivers."

James McCudden, Five Years in the Royal Flying Corps