I'm back Gents. It wil take me a while to catch up. Terrible news Fullofit. Loosing such a pilot is blow. Carrick, good see you have your puter problem sorted out. Wulfe, I hope you get yours sorted.
Sub Flight Lt. Ian B Gilland 1RNAS Furnes Aerodrome
Ian was just shy of his 20th birthday when he found himself in the Great War. He was always fascinated with the thought of flying with the birds and with the help of his Uncle got his ticket at the age of 16. His father was a manager at Wolsely Motors in Birmingham. They had expanded in 1914 to manufacturing for the war effort. With the help of the same Uncle who was in the Admiralty, he received his probationary comission in the RNAS. He was assigned to 1RNAS just in time for the big push.
His first few missions were in Friendly territory to learn the lay of the land. He was assigned to A flight with Flight Commander Dallas. Dallas was from Australia. At 6'-2" he was a commanding figure. How he fit into the little Nieuport was anyone's guess. Ian was instructed to stay out of any combats on the first few flights. Ian liked his new flight commander. Like himself, he did not drink nor smoke and did not use any profanity. He was a quiet man but when he spoke you listened.
On his third flight with Ian flying #3, Dallas spotted 2 bombers near St, Omar. He signaled for Ian to take the one to starboard. Ian was tense and approached from behind and a little below as Dallas had instructed him. When he felt he was in range he fired in short bursts. He was aware of the machine Dallas was shooting at burst into flame but concentrated on his adversary. When he seemed almost to collide he shoved forward on the stick and saw the oil streaked canvas and black crosses pass close overhead. Turning quickly to come around for another pass he saw another member of his flight send the 2 seater down in flame also. Back at base Dallas told him it would take him a while to "find his eye" as he called it. Ian was not happy with his first performance.
His next flight was a balloon busting mission.The flight of 3 fired their rockets and all missed. Ian banked sharply and made another pass raking the balloon from stern to stem. As he passed above it he felt the explosion which sent the nimble Nieuport up higher in the air. Turning around he saw the the thing falling in flames. He was elated! His victory was confirmed.
The next few flights were escort and Aerodrome attacks. They met the enemy on both occasions. Evern though Ian learned he could outfly the Fokker he could not "find his eye" as Dallas had said. He knew he had hit them several times, he even sent one home smoking but was not able to bring them down.
On July 23rd Ian learned some hard lessons. After attacking a ballon west of Roulers which Ian brought down the same as the first, they formed up and headed home. Ian was feeling full of himself knowing he had just notched his second victory. Approaching Furnes behind Reinard, Ian was smiling to himself basking in his own glory when Reinard suddenly pulled up steeply. Turning his head, Ian saw a Fokker coming down at him! Just as he pulled up he felt bullets smack into his aircraft. He and the Fokker circled with Ian firing when he could. The Fokker soon disengaged and turned east. Ian was on him in a second and with the Hun machine directly ahead at close range Ian pressed the trigger. Nothing! He pressed again and again. Still nothing! He had exausted his ammo. He turned away and headed to Furnes. He spotted Reinard's machine in a field east of the aerodrome and made a low pass to see him slumped over in the cockpit. Landing at Furnes he directed a party to the site. Reinard was alive but gravely wounded. The man had saved his life and paid a price. Dallas told him "that is the way of things, you can't let it bother you." Regardless of Dallas's words, the incident weighed heavy on Ian.
Today on the 24th, Dallas and Ian were to patrol enemy lines west of Lille. Approaching the patrol area, Dallas spotted a lone Fokker 1000' below and signaled Ian to attack. Ian rolled over and came out about a 100' above the Fokker and and fired. The Hun immediatly went into a nose down spin and and crashed. Ian could not believe his luck! On the afternoon patrol he and Dallas were attacked by another Fokker while on patrol of friendly territory near Droglandt. He and Dallas tag teamed the Fokker from 9000' to 3000' when Ian fired and it went down in a spin. He now had 3 more claims in.
Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear or a fool from either end. BOC Member since....I can't remember!