Fullofit, one again -- I really feel the loss of Voscadeux. What a great character. I wasn't sure he was really gone until I watched your video. I lost one of my best DiD careers in an accident that was nearly identical.
Welcome back, Harry. Your RL trip to France must have been wonderful. It's good to have Konrad back to his evil ways.
Carrick, glad to see you're being cautious.
Wulfe, everyone is getting in trouble this week. Glad it was only a short break from flying. We need more Fullard!
Here's the latest from Collins. A light wound helped me catch up to today.
An Airman’s Odyssey – by Lt James Arthur Collins, MC
Part Fifty: In which it is all never-ending
It had all gone wonky. Casualties on the first day of the great push were appalling by all reports, and success was little enough to be a poor bargain. The exception was on the southern end of the assault, where the guns had been sufficiently concentrated and the support of the French on the flank was solid enough to allow the advance to claim its objectives. The position around Boisselle that I’d seen blown skyward, or so I thought, still hung on.
Our lads spent the second week of the attack trying to take ground around Contalmaison. Now at last we were getting some response to our klaxon horns during contact patrols. We flew three times a day, falling into bed exhausted and being shaken awake two hours before sunrise. The Hun flying corps seemed to be licking their wounds, for we saw little of them on most patrols.
At sunrise on 9 July I led three machines – mine and Wilson’s, the Major’s, and Whistler’s – north to take photographs around Ovillers. On our return we approach two Hun two-seaters returning from some mischief. They were only a little above us and I waggled my wings and turned to get ahead of the nearest machine, attempting to stay where the Hun’s own wings would interfere with his gunner’s view of us. Wilson loosed off a half drum and I was a moment too late realising that the Hun had drifted to his right. The Hun gunner got off a long burst and rounds snapped past us. I turned under the noses of the two machines – Aviatiks, I think – and we fired again. But this time the farthest machine got a good shot at us and I felt a blow to my head as if I’d been hit with a bat. Two holes appeared in my windscreen and blood poured off my chin onto my lap. I’d like to say I was a hero and pressed on with the attack, but to tell the truth I had a good case of the zephyr vertical. Instantly I gave up all thoughts of Hun-getting and pointed our nose down and to the west. The field at Bellevue was not far off and we were on the ground safely in minutes.
"...I was a moment too late realising that the Hun had drifted to his right."
A medical orderly checked my wound and pronounced it superficial. “Just enough to trim the hair, sir!” he announced with a cheeky grin. Wilson, at least, was perturbed. The bullet, or a fragment of it, had split the scalp of my right temple and a tiny bit of metal was extracted from the bone. I was told I should see our MO before flying.
A tender came out and brought Whistler, who flew Wilson back to Lahoussoye while I was driven back. The Wing MO came to the village around tea time. I was told he’d meet me in the flight mess, which he did. After inquiring how long I’d been out, he mentioned that he’d heard I’d been somewhat reserved of late. I told him I’d had some family trouble, but nothing serious. I’d lost a good friend, too, but that was to be expected. “C’est la guerre, you see.”
He ordered me off flying for a week and said I was due for a proper break from the war. I tried to explain that the war was where I belonged, but he seemed to think that was a problem. It didn’t matter anyway. We needed every veteran man as long as this push went on. It would go on for a long time, it seemed. For the next week I was orderly officer for four days. Time dragged. All the other fellows were in the air nearly every waking moment. I thought of Captain Mealing. He’d recently been sent back to England, but the poor fellow was confined to administrative duties for nearly a month before that. I’d have to shoot myself if that happened to me.
Sergeant Wilson met me for “tea” every few days and relieved me of a considerable portion of my Yukon Gold whisky supply. He seemed genuinely worried that he wasn’t flying with me. There was, however, a new pilot, Captain Portal. Portal had arrived to take over Jericho’s flight and seemed a solid type, he said. I would go out of my way to get to know him, I promised.
At last on 16 July I was cleared to fly. My first patrol was a reconnaissance just after sunrise to the north near Contalmaison and Pozières. Two French Nieuports came along for the show. As we approached the objective, three Fokkers made a diving attack. They were of the newer two-gun type, and the Frenchies had their hands full. I continued and we got our photographs. I had barely turned back for home and Wilson was sorting out his camera kit when I noticed a lone Fokker about two thousand feet below, approaching a mile off. I banked and began a dive, pointing out the Hun to Wilson. It must have been one of the three we’d left with the Nieuports, although no other machine was in sight. We had enough speed from the dive to pull alongside the Hun, but I misjudged our position and we were nearly two hundred yards away. Wilson fired a long burst. The Hun, apparently unharmed, put down its nose and disappeared over his lines. I glanced back. Wilson was laughing and changing his drum. He pulled off his mitt and gave me a rude sign. I responded in kind. I was back.