Henri Patois Verdun May 10th, 1917 Escadrille3 No. 23
Well, I am almost cleared to fly. Another wound, this one to the calf, has grounded me for well over a week now. It all happened on an aerodrome attack over the lines. We crossed at about 2500 meters and I kept a sharp lookout for the observation balloon that would signal we were near our objective. Spotting it, I angled in for a dive on the airfield. The rest of the flight followed close behind. As I descended, the ground fire picked up quite heavily. I desperately struggled to remember the signal to indicate my wingmen should attack. As I wracked my brain, I was hit in the calf from a ground fire. Despite the pain, I was determined to see the attack through. I finally remembered how to signal my flight and swung back around, letting loose with rockets and guns. That was when the ambush came.
Enemy scouts swooped down on us from above. One of them killed my wingman, St. Pierre, early in the fight. As you can well imagine, I was in no mood for this. I turned on the attacking scouts with extreme prejudice. One of them crashed in a low turn. I quickly dispatched two more and started to head for home, as my wound was aching at this point. I looked back to catch one more Albatros trying to finish me off. I turned to engage him and would you guess what? I had to put the entire fight on hold to answer a phone call! It was Ferdinand Foch, congratulating me on my Croix de Guerre and asking how the war was treating me. I thanked him very much but said now was not the best time to talk and could I call him back? He said of course and hung up and then the dance of death continued. I fired on my foe until he dove down and I took that opportunity to break away. As I looked back, I saw him struggling to keep his craft up until he crashed some moments later.
Making it back to the aerodrome, I collapsed in exhaustion and have been recuperating for the last ten days. Caporal Villars had left the fight with his own wound and could only confirm two of my victories, which puts me now at ten, with the dubious distinction of having to train yet another wingman. I must make sure that St. Pierre is posthumously cited for bravery...