The Fokker claim from yesterday’s afternoon mission has been denied. No one has seen the splash of mud. It must have looked like any other shell explosion and simply hasn’t been noticed.
Capitaine Marcel Feierstein looked over the rowdy bunch of pilots assembled in front of him. They were chatting amongst themselves and paid little attention to their C.O. A large map of the sector was hanging behind him. He grabbed the long wooden pointer and raised his voice: “- Attention Gentlemen ... and Capitaine Voscadeaux.” He was met with some chuckles and one loud jeer from Gaston. “- You saw the N12’s leave yesterday. Now it’s our turn. Our Escadrille is being transferred to a new location. We are leaving the Verdun sector and moving to Arras sector to reinforce the Somme offensive.” More booing came from his audience. Feierstein raised his hands up in a sign of surrender. “- I don’t like it anymore than you boys, but orders are in and we do what the Army tells us, so start packing. Voscadeaux, you will take your wingman and Lieutenant Dagonet and you will fly ahead. I want to make sure the path is clear for the rest of the squadron.” “- Capitaine, where is our new home?” Gaston was curious. Feierstein raised his pointer to the map behind him with the tip resting some 310 km WNW at the City of Amiens. “- Oh! Oui, Mon Capitaine!” Gaston’s voice betrayed a hint of disappointment. It took them 2 hours to get to the new ‘drome. Thankfully there were no mechanical failures and the enemy did not bother them either. It would be unfortunate to get into a fight in enemy territory and have to land somewhere else than the home base. They’ve finally arrived and the Amiens Cathedral could be seen from afar towering over the rest of the city. It will be a great navigation landmark for any lost pilots, including himself, thought Gaston as he was preparing to enter the landing pattern behind Dagonet. He was relieved to finally have arrived as the constant scanning of the cloudy skies for an enemy ambush drained him completely. It was near his final approach that Gaston scanned the sky above for the final time. Two Fokkers were screaming down towards him from high altitude. No one had noticed them and the shock and surprise of them appearing above was complete. Voscadeaux avoided the attack just as the Huns swooped down. He gave chase after the first one and let his two flight mates occupy the other one. He finally positioned himself behind his enemy but the Eindecker pilot was in a class of his own, skillfully dodging Voscadeaux's attacks. His diving technique nearly cost Gaston his life. As he followed his target in a dive, the French Ace noticed his plane vibrating and after looking around he realized why; the fabric on the wings was ripped and flapped in the air stream. Gaston quickly backed off and lost sight of the Fokker. He continued to fly in the general direction where he saw the Boche last, hoping to catch up with him. Finally he saw puffs of exploding shells ahead. That's where the enemy was. Voscadeaux followed and closed the distance quickly. A train full of soldiers was steaming ahead along his flight path. He could see many heads sticking out of the compartment windows, following the hunt. The German pilot did not expect a renewed attack and was flying steadily east, trying to avoid Archie. The sun was the last thing he saw, unless he survived Gaston's barrage. In that case spinning ground was the last thing he saw before crashing into it. On his way back Voscadeaux saw the other Fokker forced to land near the airfield. The soldiers have already surrounded the enemy machine. Gaston quickly landed at his new base and let a sigh of relief. “- That was some welcoming committee!” He thought to himself as he switched the magnetos off. After the prop came to a stop, two members of the ground crew came running to help him unbuckle his harness. The one that arrived first gave Gaston a smile, “- Welcome to Cachy, Capitaine Voscadeaux!”