Raine, that was a beautiful tribute to a fallen comrade. Simply wonderful writing.
lederhosen, Welcome to the Somme! There should be plenty of opportunities for Willi to score here.
Julius is now flying a Fokker E.IV. At this rate, he will probably get access to the Halberstadts when the rest of the unit receive their first Albs! But I can always change things with the mission editor mod, of course...
For some reason, Julius is now having better luck with his claims. On my old PC, almost all of them were getting rejected.
14. NUMBER THREE
”Before the world grew mad, the Somme was a placid stream of Picardy, flowing gently through a broad and winding valley northwards to the English Channel. It watered a country of simple beauty. . . Then came the pestilence.”
- A. D. Gristwood, The Somme (1927)
Near Thiepval, Late Afternoon of July 1st, 1916
Early in the morning of July 1st, the long-expected push on the Somme sector had finally began. All German flying units in the sector had already been on high alert since the 24th of June. The week-long artillery preparation had finally come to an end and the British and French infantrymen on both banks of the Somme river had left the cover of their trenches to break through the German lines of defense. The situation on the ground was chaotic, and Julius and his comrades had very little information on the course of the battle. They only knew that the enemy was making an extreme effort, and the British and French air services were operating on their sector at an unprecedented intensity. For each German airplane, it seemed like the Entente powers had three of their own.
It was imperative to try to suppress the enemy reconnaissance flights, so the Fokkers and Halberstadts of Bertincourt were sent to patrol above the positions of 52. Division and XIV. Reserve-Korps.
Julius was flying with Gustav Leffers northwest along the Thiepval Ridge. The pair of machines was staying close to an altitude of 2500 meters in order to have the best chance of making a surprise attack against any British two-seater they spotted above the lines. Julius was glad that the wait for the start of the enemy offensive was finally over. He knew perfectly well that the end of the war was still nowhere in sight, but he also believed that the enemy would have to exhaust himself further before there could be any hope of peace. Verdun must have nearly broken the French; maybe this offensive will do the same for the British, Julius reasoned. His thoughts were interrupted by a signal from Leffers, who was wiggling the wings of Halberstadt – enemy machines below! After a quick search Julius was able to spot three British Blériot two-seaters flying in a Vee formation several hundred meters below them. If they had seen the two German aviators above them, they made no move to show it. Leffers signaled for attack, and the fighters began their descend towards the British. Leffers went in first with Julius following close behind him.
One of the British observers opened fire at the German fighters. He was then joined by the two others. But their fire was hopelessly inaccurate, and their slow and cumbersome machines were easy targets for the experienced Germans. Julius waited until the two-seater on the left completely filled up his gunsight before pressing the firing switch on his control column. The Spandaus of his Fokker E.IV barked fiercely above the roar of the engine. There was time only for a couple of seconds of accurate fire until the speed of his Fokker took Julius beneath the enemy formation. There Julius manoeuvered into a position that allowed him to shoot at the two-seaters from below, safely out of reach of the guns of the observers. Again the Blériot filled up his view, and again the Spandaus performed their deadly ballet. Suddenly the enemy two-seater burst into flames and turned wildly to the left, now clearly out of control. Julius stopped his attack and watched in horror as the Blériot disintegrated, its pieces raining down in a cloud of black smoke and reddish flames. He had never seen anything like it.
Meanwhile, Leffers had suffered a serious gun jam which effectively prevented him from shooting down either of the remaining British machines. He nevertheless chased them for a while towards British-held territory, but then gave up the pursuit. He and Julius had in any case completed their mission of disrupting enemy reconnaissance flights, so they returned to Bertincourt for debriefing.
The chaos in German communications caused by the enemy offensive delayed the confirmation of Julius’s third victory until the next day. When the news finally came, Julius didn’t feel as excited as usual. The sight of the burning Blériot kept bothering him.
The war was rapidly destroying what remained of Julius’s idealism.
"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