Wow, so many amazing posts! I haven't had time to read in detail. I saw Raine's man bagged a third Zeppelin (insane) and some fab screenies from Lou. I'll try to catch up on the details this weekend. For now I was keen to get Lazlo caught up, and he's had some excitemet! Things seem to be hotting up all round
Feldwebel Lazlo Halász,
Jasta 1, Bertincourt, France September 24th 1916
Lazlo's back ached, especially around the areas where his charred flesh had been treated and bandaged. His dressings had to be changed by the field doctor each evening and sleeping had been a painful affair since the engine fire had forced him to crash land his machine ten days ago. Since being declared fit to return to flying, Lazlo had felt differently about the whole business. With Breuer dead, and a new wingman assigned to him, Lazlo was feeling bitter. His fellow pilots were restless also. There had been reports of losses from other nearby units at the hands of a new enemy 2-seater. It was more nimble than the old lumbering BE2s and FE2s and it had a forward mounted machine gun which some of its pilots were using to extremely good effect by some accounts. Lazlo pondered the possibility of meeting one of these things in battle. Meantime the Jasta's Halberstadts were suffering engine failures at an alarming rate. Lazlo had overheard Von Mulzer complaining to Offizierstellvertreter Martin Zander only a few days ago.
"Sir, we have to have new machines as soon as possible! We cannot be expected to assist with the defensive effort here effectively. The enemy are winning on the ground and we are defeating ourselves in the skies above them. Look at Lazlo! Six engine failures in three weeks and the last one nearly killed him, #%&*$#!"
"I understand your frustrations Max. Be patient", the officer had replied calmly. "You won't have to wait too much longer, if my information is correct."
Lazlo wondered what that had meant, but didn't dwell on it for too long. They had a balloon to knock down this morning and so he headed off to the field. His Kette, led by Vizefeldwebel Bethge, had just crossed the lines into enemy territory north of Albert when suddenly Bethge broke right, clearly after something. Lazlo's new wingman, Horst Kremer, followed, as did Lazlo. Soon he saw their quarry. His heart leapt inside his massive frame. It was one of the new Strutters, and with three predators on it's tail it was beating a hasty retreat to the field at Bellevue. Normally the Jasta wouldn't venture too close to enemy fields, but Belleveue was close to the lines and Bethge seemed intent on taking the fight to his foes on this day. The Strutter had some ground on them but as it prepared to try to land, all three pursuers leaped upon it. It was Lazlo who finally was able to line up and deliver the telling blows, as Bethge flashed past, giving him the thumbs up sign. Lazlo turned to climb, checking his six. After a short while he noticed that Bethge and Kremer were still circling the enemy field, so Lazlo turned back to see what was going on. Meantime, the other Kette, led by Wintgens, had gone off to attack the balloon target they had been assigned. No matter, Lazlo spotted a second Strutter below and dove upon him, his blood rising. Once more Lazlo was able to deliver the fatal blow, after dancing around above the Bellevue field for almost five minutes with his prey trying everything to escape. Lazlo had taken some fire from the rear gunner but he had thrown caution to the wind and finally caught the Strutter at close quarters. Remembering the Halberstadt's propensity for failure, he then turned his machine eastwards. He notice that Kremer and Bethge were nowhere to be seen.
Finally Lazlo made it back to Bertincourt and dismounted. He had destroyed two enemy machines but he felt no elation, just pain from his wounded back and anger at the loss of his former room mate, Breuer. Later the others trooped in, looking tired and irritable.