Carrick, tough luck for Kieth on that obs balloon. Maybe he should put in some time at the gun range.

Harry, glad to see that Lazlo has a new mount with a bit more space. And he met the great Boelcke himself - lucky fellow. As to the dilemma of having to kill a fellow man in battle, that is something that each must deal with on his own terms.

Fullofit, excellent bit of flying on Chesty's part, well done. Another fine video and report. And congrats on his new bling.

Lederhosen, well done on the award of the Blue Max to Willi, he deserved it.

Wulfe, wonderful bit of writing, most evocative.

Raine, I'm loving Collins' latest epic. Can't wait to see how it all turns out.


28 August 1916
Fienvillers, France

"I hear it's going to be a VC for him."

"The VC? For bringing down a Zep? It was one bloody gas bag the size of King's Cross Station lumbering along the Thames. Who the hell couldn't hit a target like that."

"It was pitch dark and some 14,000 feet over London according to da article, not exactly a cake walk to find ya know."

"Ever heard of searchlights mate? Story also says the thing was shining like the full moon up there with all the lights that had picked it out."

It was another wet, rainy morning at Fienvillers and the current and rather lively topic of discussion at breakfast was the downing of a Zeppelin four nights earlier. As it happened the man responsible for this feat was none other than Captain Swanson's good friend and former squadron mate, Lieutenant James Collins, who had recently been sent back to England and placed on Home Defence duties. No sooner had the stout fellow gotten there when he brought down the giant airship in full flames in the dead of night, just east of London. Swany was understandably proud of his pal for pulling off such a stunt. However, Swany's G/O, Lt. Christopher Dent, was less than impressed with the whole affair and had no qualms about making his opinions known. The debate had progressed to the point where Captain Swanson was now defending the idea of Collins receiving the Victoria Cross for his efforts.

"Vell da tings do have gunners on dem ya know. It's not like dey just float around and let you shoot at dem as you please." Swany's accent was becoming more pronounced as his agitation grew.

"Bah! How many bloody gunners are banging away at us every time we cross the mud, not to mention the ones on the Hun buses themselves. I'm telling you mate, this is all about the Red Tabs and politicians finding a way to make themselves look good to the folks back in England. Offer up the bloke who gave 'em all a fireworks display over their heads, pin the VC on his chest, and show him off to the country. It's good press and a dam'd fine distraction from the bloody mess they've made over here with this latest offensive." Chris sat back and finished off his cup of tea, feeling quite pleased with himself and his line of argument.

Swany thought for a moment before responding, allowing his ire to subside. "Chris, let's just say dat you are entitled to your take on the whole ting and I am entitled to mine. We each know where we stand - I say VC, you say bah. OK den?"

The Lieutenant gave a laugh as he reached for a jar of apple jam and a knife and began slathering a piece of now-cold toast with the preserves. "Fair enough mate. He is your friend after all, I never really got to know him when we were all serving together in Number 3 way back when. But why shouldn't you wish the best for him. I'm just saying it's all political. Hell, you deserve the VC far more than your chum back in Blighty does. My god man, you're at what now, 26 kills?"

"27", Swany replied almost in a whisper, as he took a long sip of his ginger tea.

"27! And you think Collins should get the VC for one bloody Hun gas bag. You're a pip my friend, a real pip. If you're giving him a gong for anything it should be for that fine whiskey he used to supply us with, now that was worthy of the Victoria Cross."

The conversation was interrupted at this point when the CO popped into the mess and announced that the morning patrols were on. The rain had subsided to a drizzle and the winds had dropped below 15 and it was time for everyone to get their arses in the air, PDQ.

"C'mon Swansong", Chris chimed as he sprang from his chair, "Let's see if we can't make it 28 for you."

Swany smiled as he rose and walked with his G/O towards the door, "And how many would that make for you den?"

"17 I think, but who's counting."