CHAPTER THIRTEEN - Konrad Gets A Promotion...And A Victory!
Konrad Berthold von Blumenthal July 24th, 1916. Sivry-sur-Meuse, Verdun. Fokkerstaffel Sivry
It actually came as quite a shock when Konrad saw Strunze for the first time, since his accident. The man looked suddenly fatigued, with a grey pallor to his skin. He no longer oozed confidence. That first night, in their hut, Konrad was startled from his sleep by a sudden, whimpering cry from his room mate. He even felt a little sorry for him, but he wasn't going to say as much!
Over in the canteen at breakfast, Oberleutnant Kirmaier came across and tapped Konrad on the shoulder.
"Come to my office please"
"Yes sir", Konrad rose from his seat and followed the officer.
"Take a seat, young man. This won't take a moment". He reached down under his desk and pulled out a small box. Handing it to Konrad, he smiled. "Congratulations on your first confirmed victory! I'm particularly delighted that I was able to provide the corroborating witness account. Good work Von Blumenthal. May it be the first of many". Konrad beamed in delight as he examined the silver goblet contained in the box. "Oh, and before I completely forget, congratulations on your promotion to Feldwebel!". Konrad sat, stunned, unable to even mutter a word of thanks.
Later that day, as they suited up for the afternoon mission, Strunze offered his congratulations, also.
"It seems you've managed to figure out how to bring those Caudron beasts down to earth, old fellow. Well done." The previous day they had surprised a G4 that was making its way lazily toward its home field. Konrad had joined his flight lead in the pursuit and had been the last to put some rounds into it, as it plunged toward the ground. Konrad wasn't really sure he deserved the victory, but when he saw that Kirmaier didn't intend to, he put in a claim for himself. It could have been his bullets that finished it, after all.
This afternoon they were escorting another Wahlfish, deep into enemy territory. The mission was to bomb the enemy troop encampment outside of Verdun. No fewer that six Halbs and two EIVs set off to meet the bomber. It was yet another case of empty skies. No Nieuports in sight. They hadn't seen any French scouts since the demise of their famous purple warrior. Only the lumbering Caudrons were naround, which suited Konrad down to the ground. Sure enough, as soon as the Wahlfish had deposited its bombs, Konrad noticed it turn sharply, heading off after another of the giant beast that had happened to arrive on the scene. Konrad was slightly amused to see the 2-seater behaving exactly like a scout, turning and chasing after the even larger foe. Then Konrad noticed that Kirmaier had joined the battle. Konrad decided to make it a party, descending rapidly on the G4. This time, there was no doubt. Konrad lined up a perfect shot and poured a burst of fire into the right engine as the Caudron turned his way, causing it to explode in flash of yellow and red flame. Smoke billowing, the Caudron immediately fell earthwards, losing its top left plane in the process, and finally crashing into the ground below.
Konrad once again put in a claim, this time knowing full well it was his bullets that dealt the death blow. Again he cited Kirmaier as the witness, as well as the pilot of the Roland. However, they had been very deep inside enemy territory and Konrad knew there was some chance that his claim would be denied. Nevertheless, his confidence was growing. Time to celebrate with some schnapps, he thought to himself.