RNAS 9 Furnes airfield Flanders Region Squadron Commander Bower reporting:
14 June 1917 Six of us took off in our Sopwith Triplanes shortly after 1430 to patrol over the Bray Dunes airfield. As usual, I headed straight for our patrol area immediately after getting the flight organized. We were at about 7,000 feet when we got there and I continued to climb as I began to circle the field. Before we could complete one circuit I saw anti-aircraft bursts to our Southeast, so I turned my flight towards it. As we got closer I could make out at least ten Albatrosses just slightly higher than we were. They had clearly seen us and, as Doyle's Sherlock Holmes would say, the game was afoot.
Both formations split up quickly as each pilot sought out an opponent. It didn't take me too long to settle on an Albatros whose fuselage had been painted all red that looked like it was trying to line up on one of my fine fellows. I slipped behind him unnoticed and, because I didn't want him to fire on my flight mate I opened fire from a range of 100-150 yards. I either hit him or got close enough to get his wind up, because he immediately broke off from what he was doing and tried to elude me. My being farther away than I normally am when I fire worked to my advantage, as it was very easy to keep him in sight and I was on his tail again very quickly. I fired one or two more bursts and could see some pieces of his machine break off. I pulled slightly tighter in my turn to close distance on him when I suddenly saw tracers streaking past me and felt a few thud into my aircraft.
I shot a quick glance behind me and saw two more Huns trying to get on my tail. I could tell that they were having trouble staying with my turn, so I decided to stay on Red. After all, if I turned toward them I'd likely end up with all three casting lots for my skin.
I pulled just a little tighter and closed to within fifty yards or so. One burst. Two bursts. Three. More. And then I saw him slump forward in his cockpit and his machine lurch forward. It could have been a ruse, and if it was it worked, because I had to turn my attention to my two other "admirers".
A roll to the right put me in position to see both of them, in a left hand turn, one slightly behind the other. I fell into third position in the line and started turning behind them. Number two quickly saw what was happening and broke to the right. I ignored him and pressed on to the leader, closing fairly quickly. As I reached a firing angle I looked around and could see that #2 was in no position to cause me any trouble any time soon, so I opened fire. I must have been shooting golden bullets because after only a few short bursts his upper wing broke and the port side separated completely from the rest of the aircraft.
I looked back and found the final Albatros. I couldn't believe I was about to get three in one flight. I latched onto him like a hungry dog on a steak. Whichever way he turned I was right behind him. I fired a burst (I think I hit him) and he dove. It didn't look like he was out of control, and having no one else behind me I dove with him. Unfortunately my triplane had apparently taken some significant damage and I could hear it creaking in a VERY unpleasant manner. I reduced my dive angle and set about shedding altitude with a series of alternating side slips, always keeping an eye on the Hun diving away. However in one of my transitions I lost sight of him. Try as I might, I couldn't find him. I believe he got away, because only my first two aircraft could not be accounted for by other members of my flight.
After the excitement was over and I started trying to reform my flight I became aware of an odd sensation in my right lower leg...a sensation that quickly turned to pain. Apparently the bloody Hun who shot at me had not only hit my aircraft, but he hit me, too. Nothing serious. A graze on the outside of the right calf. The local surgeon said I should take it easy for week or two, but I don't plan on it. I can't shirk over a wound this small while I send others into the crucible. Wouldn't be proper. Definitely going to have to replace that boot, though. By the time I could land it was half full of my stout English blood. Which is generally half full of English Stout.
I've been informed that I'm being awarded the Victoria Cross for this escapade. Not only did we completely turn the enemy raid, those were my 22nd and 23rd confirmed victories, AND it turns out that the bloke in the red plane was Karl Allmenroder, a Hun of some renown. I hope to have General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett present it to me. I've still not forgotten how he told my uncle Edmond that I'd never amount to much.