Henri Patois
Verdun
May 1st, 1917
Escadrille3 No. 23

Patrol over the lines yesterday... Up to around 4500m. There were three of us: my wingman, St. Pierre, Caporal Villars in his SPAD and myself. We first encountered a couple of two-seaters. It was so cold at this height, they should have each worn two sweaters! Anyway, I dove on one and after a long burst he rolled over, spun down and was not seen again. St. Pierre finished off the second. When we came back together again, Villars was not with us. We later found out that he had returned to base with a minor wound inflicted by the second recce craft. Unscathed and with plenty of ammunition left, St. Pierre and I continued on our patrol. Further behind the lines, we saw a flight of three scouts below us. After watching them for a while, I noticed that they were the older D II model Albatros. Even thought they had the advantage of numbers, it seemed worthwhile to go down and put them through the paces. I looked over to St. Pierre and he enthusiastically waved me on. We dove on the three and one of them immediately fled the area. The other two started turning with me. It turned out that they were actually piloted quite well. I looked over to see my wingman circling in the distance while I bore the brunt of the fight. It turns out that he was waving to me that his gun was jammed, not that I should press the attack! After several minutes, all parties broke off, I none the worse for wear after having put at least a few rounds into my enemies. Once my wingman saw me get clear, he dove down and snuck back across the lines safely. I followed but at altitude. Moments later, I caught the other Albatros trying to sneak up on me! We twisted into a knife fight and I was able to get behind him and fire over and over again. He fluttered down as if mortally wounded but I kept after him and caught him as he pulled up at ground level. The only question at this point was if he would ever go down for good! I fired and fired and fired and finally he crashed into some trees, his plane igniting as he did.

Making my way back, I was good and fairly jumped by a pair of the V-Strut Albatros scouts. Outnumbered and lacking any height advantage, I decided to flee the field as soon as I could manage. After a few minutes, the opportunity presented itself as both my opponents had dove down. We parted company, no one having convincingly harmed the other.

This morning I woke to learn that my kills were confirmed and that I was being awarded the Croix de Guerre for my actions. Lucky dice indeed!