MFair - Close call again! Hats off for taking on those Nieuports in a crummy old Eindecker. Hope the extra pair of wings brings you some better luck!
Raine - Uh-oh, seems your reporter is getting her claws in! I'm still amazed how you can write an arc that has absolutely no air combat in it and still make it as riveting as the rest of the tales. That being said, Collins must be concocting a plan to return to the front...I wonder if he'll run into a certain Danish friend of his when he does return?
Carrick - Rainy in the Alsace as well. How does the late DH2 fare when compared to the early one? Try to steer clear of those Albatroses!
Sous. Lt. James B. Fullard, Esc. N.124 'Américaine', Luxeuil, France.
September 19th, 1916
Frustration has set in within the Escadrille as the rain continued into the morning of the second day, bringing a steady halt to flying operations in the Alsace region, save for one or two brave, or possibly mad, Caudron pilots from Capitane Happe’s group. With nought else to do, Luf, Thaw and I headed to the hangars. I found Toby, or ‘Chesty’ as I had heard him called by his mob, milling around the hangars, and out of a fleeting curiosity I asked him about his own machine. He was rather fascinated by our Nieuports and had already been over twice to see them up close, and so was happy to return the favour. Chesty flew a Strutter - one of the newest English machines, and a fine one at that. It reminded me of the Bosche Roland - a two-seater that doubled up as a fighting machine.
Chesty’s own ship was something of a curiosity to me - whereas the other pilots of the English naval squadron flew with observers, Mulberry had, at his own request, sealed off the rear seat and removed its guns, flying it instead as a single-seater. By any means, his fifteen victories proved that the type was more than a match for the Eindeckers that swarmed in the region. “You’re Scottish?” I asked him, gesturing to the personal marking behind the cockade - a white ‘X’ against a blue background. He smirked. “Scottish? No! It’s a Naval signal flag, you see? This one means ‘M’, for Mulberry”. I nodded, noticing now that the other Sopwiths bore similar markings. It was then that a thought occurred to me. “Say, Toby, what’s the signal for ‘F’?”
Turning the collar of a borrowed greatcoat up against the rain, I headed over to our Escadrille’s hangars. With Whiskey lounging at his feet, Thaw was busy painting his own insignia - a stylised ‘T’, when I found him. “Say, Bill, got any spare paint?” I asked him, and he gestured with his foot to two buckets beside his machine. Taking up a bucket and a paintbrush, I set about marking my own ship, producing a small scrap of paper on which Mulberry had illustrated the naval signal. As we worked, the armourer commanded a pair of Caporals to start loading crates of ammunition into our hangar. After placing a pot of coffee atop a paraffin boiler loaned to us by the Canadians, Thaw decided to take a break, deciding that one of the new crates would make for a fine bench. However, as he moved to sit, he suddenly stopped in his tracks, staring down at the crate.
“Hey, James, come and look at this!” he called over to me as I poured two mugs of coffee. Handing one to Thaw, I looked down at the crate. “Savage Arms Co” I read aloud. “So what?”. Thaw grinned and pointed to the illustration beside the company’s name. “Say, don’t you think that would make for a swell Escadrille insignia?”. Looking over the emblem, a grin slowly crossed my face. “You know, Bill, that’s a fine idea…”
Through the miserable rain we interrogated the Caporals we found on their artistic ability, before finally being directed to one Caproal Suchet. “Oui, I was a painter before the war. Why, what do you need painted?”. Thaw and I shot each other a glance. “Come on and we’ll show you”.
For the next several hours we watched as Suchet knelt beside Thaw’s machine with paintbrush in hand, occasionally turning his eye to the ammunition crate we’d propped up beside him. Finally, after an impatient wait, we stepped back to admire the Caporal’s work - proud and fierce on the side of Thaw’s ship was the terrifying face of a Seminole Indian warrior locked in a silent battle-cry.
“Let’s show the Capitane” Thaw said to me excitedly and, after slipping Suchet a few Francs and a packet of cigarettes for his trouble, we rushed out towards Thenault’s office. “So, whaddaya think?” I asked Thenault as he studied Suchet’s handiwork. For a long while he stood with his arms folded behind his back, studying each detail and brush stroke, before slowly he nodded. “Yes, I like it. I like it a lot. I’ll have Suchet paint the rest of the Escadrille’s machines with this insignia”. Thaw and I laughed in triumph as Whiskey joined in with an approving roar.