Wulfe, good to hear your RFC intelligence concerning these "Albatroses". German high command haven't informed Lazlo's lot about them yet, but he certainly needs a new machine
Feldwebel Lazlo Halász,
Jasta 1, Bertincourt, France September 14th 1916
Lazlo had remained in his hut the previous evening, blubbering like a giant, oversized baby. He was distraught from having received the news of his room mate's death. Feldwebel Breuer's Halberstadt had caught some shrapnel from the heavy ground fire during their escort mission. Lazlo hadn't noticed his disappearance, probably because he was too occupied with his pounding headache and unsettled stomach. Apparently Breuer had managed to wrestle his machine almost to the ground, but he was over enemy lines and was caught in a hail of gunfire and hit in the head and body several times. The only merciful thing about the whole episode is that he probably died quickly, but no one could be sure. Lazlo hadn't fully appreciated the horror of the war in France up to this point. Now he was shocked and appalled by it all. It was actually Von Althaus who was the first to offer his condolences, as they stood on the field the next morning waiting to take off. Lazlo may have been an oaf the day before, but Von Althaus was certain that he'd been very close friends with Breuer, and it was always very painful to lose one of their own.
They had only been in the air ten minutes or so. Lazlo had been lost in his thoughts, not really concentrating. He formed the tail end of a four machine formation heading off on a reconnaissance protection assignment. Suddenly there was a massive explosion and oil immediately coated his windscreen. Lazlo momentarily froze and he heard a crackling sound behind him. He smelled smoke. It was different than the caustic smell of artillery fire. He quickly turned to see flames spreading down the length of the fuselage! There was only one thing to do if Lazlo wanted to avoid being burned alive - dive! He slammed the stick forward and willed his machine to earth as quickly as it could go. Who cared if the wings tore off! Somehow he was able to fight the urge to simply jump out of the burning coffin and was eventually able to bring it down roughly in a cornfield. Luckily, no trees around, thought Lazlo. Now he needed the machine to come to a standstill so that he could unbuckle and get the hell out of there. After what seemed an eternity the machine came to rest and Lazlo scrambled out. He became aware of extreme discomfort...his flying suit was smoldering. He threw himself to the ground and rolled around to put out the flames. Now he felt the pain, full force and he bellowed from the agony of the searing, burning sensations in his legs and back.
Lazlo's cries had attracted the attention of a nearby farmer and his son who were out doing their early morning chores. They ran up to Lazlo.
"Sacre bleu!" the old farmer muttered, looking horrified at the giant pilot's charred suit. He ordered his son to fetch the horse and cart. Then, they gingerly helped Lazlo to his feet. The boy dropped the rear gate of the cart and together with his father they carefully laid Lazlo in the back of the cart.
It took then nearly an hour to trek through the tiny lanes toward the front lines at Monchy-le-Preux. There was mayhem everywhere! The German army were being pressed back by the French in that region and the sound of heavy gunfire could be plainly heard. The farmer was able to locate a field hospital and eventually they found a stretcher for Lazlo. The doctors were worried it wouldn't take the weight of the large pilot, but they eventually managed to move him into a large receiving tent. The moans and groans of wounded soldiers were all around them. The framer and his son waited a while to be sure Lazlo got medical attention. Eventually two nurses appeared at his side and began to cut away the charred fabric of his suit to expose an ugly mess of black, charred, peeling skin and the red raw layers underneath, blistering with fluid. The boy wretched and turned away. The nurses hurried to clean the wounds and gently applied bandages as best they could.
"Don't worry, little fellow", one of the nurses cooed, "this big man here is going to be fine. His wounds aren't too bad at all. He will recover. You helped to save him with your quick actions". She gave him a warm smile as his father patted him lovingly on the head. Back at their farm, all that was left of the Halberstadt was a charred mess of wires and burning embers.