Sounds like von K is in his element inside that Walfisch!
Adj. James B. Fullard, Esc. N.124 'Americaine', Bar-le-Duc, France.
August 1st, 1916:
Quietly we walked towards our awaiting machines, each lost in our thoughts, each dealing with our nerves. We had been ordered back to the rail junction at Verdun, in order to destroy it once and for all. I suspect the same thought crossed my comrades’ minds, as the one that crossed my own. The Bosche will only repair the junction by the end of the day. What good are our machine-guns against infrastructure anyway?. I climbed into my cockpit and paused to watch the flight leaders’ streamers flickering in the breeze. Rather than returning to the Depot at Plessis, I had taken ownership of one of the squadron’s unassigned Nieuports. To my disgust, it was another N.16.
To my surprise, as we had pulled on our flying equipment, Blanchon muttered to me that he didn’t want to go up. Had a bad feeling, he said. I was sympathetic, but firm. “Blanchon, old pal. None of us fancy this job, but we’re all going and that’s the end of it”. With a defeated sigh, he relented and followed me to the flight line. In his cockpit, before we embarked, I saw his staring straight forwards, devoid of his usual cheer. It was like that, sometimes. Sometimes the nerves got the better of you.
Lawrence Rumsey, who was not to know any better, was excited for the attack. “Sticking it to the Bosche in his own backyard”, he referred to it as. He’d soon discover who was sticking it to who when the artillery started up at us. I’d asked McConnell to keep an eye on him. Last in our formation was Bert Hall. I expected nothing of him. We’d be lucky if he didn’t turn back halfway and tell us all he’d had engine trouble.
The sky was shining blue as we approached the lines, with huge lumbering clouds quietly rolling towards German lines. I watched their edges for hidden Germans, and before long I had seen three Eindeckers circling over Verdun like vultures. The wind was rough, bad for shooting, and I didn’t trust my machine, but all the same I signalled an attack to my flight. We spread out and closed in on the unaware German Monoplanes. However, three more aircraft dropped out of the clouds, and suddenly tracer flashed. It was a gang of Nieuports, falling upon the surprised Germans. One monoplane quickly fell into a spin and disappeared, as my flight arrived to the battle. The Germans were now outnumbered Four-to-One.
A second German fell, caught between the tracer of three separate machines. The last remaining Bosche was lost in a storm of Nieuports, as each man tried to make the victory his own. In the end, I watched as a burst from my Lewis walked up his machine’s back and struck him between the shoulder blades. The machine quivered and fell fowards - right into the path of a Nieuport. I watched in horror as the two machines became entangled, and with a sudden flash of light a huge ball of flame erupted, fusing the two machines together as they fell to their fate. I felt nauseous. I had killed a comrade.
My head buzzing with guilt, uncertainty and disgust, I signalled that I was breaking away from the formation. Fog rolled into my mind as I came in for a shaky landing at the Verdun aerodrome, and after landing I had to be coaxed from my machine by a confused Mechanician.
When I eventually returned to Behonne, I was glad to find everybody safe and sound. I made my report and passed it off to Thenault, but he had already heard the details from the others. The first fokker I attacked remained a mystery. Too many streams of gunfire had hit it at once to say who had downed it. The second, however, was credited to me. I felt like a murderer as the image of the entangled machines flashed before my eyes anew.