Rick Rawlings
No 24 Squadron
Sept. 17, 1916
Bertangles West

I have sent down my fifth (confirmed) enemy aircraft. We were supposed to attack the Athies airfield, a type of mission which I hate as I always wonder what my little Lewis gun is supposed to do against an entire airfield. Although, come to think of it, I don't believe we have ever completed one of these missions as we always run into the enemy before we get there. Which happened today as well. We encountered a pair of Halberstadts good and fairly met at the front at about 5000 feet elevation. One went down quickly as the other fled with half of our flight in pursuit. We caught him about two miles behind the lines and the others sent him down in good measure. We were reforming our flight in a gentile climb when I spotted an Eindecker trying to sneak up on us. As we were at the level, he could not use height to his advantage and I was quickly on his tail. I closed and fired very close when I saw the pilot slump over and the craft went down in a slow spiral to crash below. At this time, I looked up to see three more aircraft entering the area a thousand feet above me. As they closed, I squinted at a craft that I was unfamiliar with and realized it must be the dreaded Albatros! Fortunately, they did not dive on me immediately but went for the rest of my flight! Despite having a clear path to the front, I couldn't leave my comrades behind to face this new foe alone, so I dove back into the fray. I was able to get behind one of the sleek new craft as he pounced on one of our pilots, who was swiftly shot down. (He suffered only minor injuries and amazingly made it back from enemy territory that same day!) I pursued the hun and got some hits in, but he was a fierce fighter and it was hard to keep him in my sights! After a few passes, I had lost sight of the rest of my flight and when my enemy and I we were clear of each other, I sprinted for the front. On the way back, I was puzzling over my choice to be a pilot in the face of this new and fearsome opponent when I happened to look down to see huge plumes of earth being pulverized with each massive artillery shell in a bombardment below and realized that all things considered, I was probably best where I was. I landed at a nearby aerodrome to check over my crate (which was, amazingly, unscathed) and I saw that a pair of Nieuport scouts had also alighted there, and I began to develop an idea...