CONGRATULATIONS, Fullofit, on hitting the big 50! And by mid-1916, no less! Astounding.
Adj. James B. Fullard, Esc. N.124 'Americaine', Bar-le-Duc, France.
July 10th, 1916.
As promised, Nungesser treated us to dinner at a quaint little Cafe in Bar-le-Duc, regaling us for the evening with incredible stories of his battles in the air. The man sounded like a legendary swashbuckler, raiding formations of three, four, five Germans by himself. However, we were not the undivided object of his attention - and in the morning the poor Orderly had to interrogate two young Mademoiselles as to how to return them home from our Villa. Or, at least, so I heard from Rockwell. Prince, Luf, Blanchon, McConnell and I had already since departed on the dawn patrol over enemy lines by that point.
The sky had only just started to lighten as we lifted, bound for St. Mihiel, and the morning was bitterly cold. For the third day now, rain battered at our faces and stung our cheeks. How I envied Nungesser as we flew, cozied up in bed with his two young acquaintances! But, I reasoned, somebody had to be up fighting the air war. As we crossed into the pocket in the lines at St. Mihiel, the clouds closed up and swallowed us. I watched anxiously as Prince, Luf and McConnell disappeared behind a film of white ahead of me. When we broke through the other side, we were above the German rear trenches. Near the Lac de Madine some unpleasantly accurate AA fire added to our woes, but it quickly relented. I imagined the Germans below were no more pleased about having to work today than we were.
After ten or so minutes of flying Westward, we turned back East to the beginning of our patrol route. What good is this? I bitterly thought, No Bosches are going to be up at 5 O’Clock in this weather!. We made this gruelling back-and-forth trip a further two times. Suddenly, on our third rotation, our formation abruptly scattered every which-way. Bosches. I circled too, frantically searching the murky grey clouds for our agitators. Luf lifted his nose up, standing on his tail and firing upwards. I followed the line of his tracers and discovered three Fokkers, swooping down upon us. We quickly climbed up to them, and I got behind one German who seemed to be a rookie. His movements in the air were unsure, and I had a good shot at him, but the wind was treacherous and knocked my aim off. The startled German dove sharply away, and I followed, chasing him low and firing as he swept down desperately for Thiaucourt aerodrome. Eventually I decided I had gotten too far down, and let the young rookie go. Circling back to the location of the fight, I only saw two other machines - a Nieuport and a Fokker, locked in a tense dogfight. It was McConnell - and the German had the upper hand. I fired a burst across the Eindecker’s front - it was another twin-gunned variant - at which point he simply zoomed up in a spiral climb away from us. I watched in awe as the German machine soared upwards. What was this new Eindecker?!
I couldn’t catch him, but McConnell’s Nieuport 16 strained upwards, and soon the Bosche was, too, diving for Thiaucourt. As he descended low he looped under McConnell and straightened out to land, apparently assuming we’d given up. I saw my chance. Diving down I fired the last of my ammunition into the German, his horrified face spinning around to face me before his machine buckled and fell into a spin. Quickly I curved away, not waiting to see if McConnell had witnessed the victory, and opened the throttle full towards home.
Blanchon had brought down one of the Germans, as seen by Lufbery. Unfortunately for me, McConnell hadn’t seen my Fokker go down, and so I added another tally to my string of unconfirmed victories.