Mission No. 7 for Cap'n. Dobson
(Note: "4RingDim" patch was used for missions no. 7 and 8; also installed now are the BuckEye Bob clouds (ver. 2.9.2), but without JJJ's Mission Editor; see post above this one for the latest ver. 1.3 addon to the GPU Tuner Patch.)
Very early on the morning of the 22nd of May, having bade our fellow pilots and the C.O. farewell at the 'drome north of the Lys, and having thanked them for their hospitality, we flew our Parasols back to our own hangars. My Parasol had had its wings re-patched the night before, while we were having a splendid occasion in the mess, and we were now ready to ascend into the skies once again. Breakfast having been concluded quickly, I and Henderson my observer, Felix Salmond piloting the other Parasol, and a new fellow, Ltn. Strugnell, piloting the third one - made our way slowly but surely towards Ypres, in decent and calm weather.
On the southern outskirts of Ypres, around 1000 m alt., I received a squirt of hot oil from the LeRhone rotary, first across my wind screen and then onto my goggles and face. The sting of the boiling oil was not the worst of my troubles, for now I had to decide what to do, with the engine beginning to emit a grating, oscillating sound. Also, my rpms began to drop to 950, which was much too low to attempt continuing with the boys towards the front lines around Ypres. I therefore wagged my wings briefly, then signalled with a Verey pistol, and Salmond and Strugnell went ahead to complete the mission without us - to spot for enemy arty positions around Ledegem and then further south, running a course parallel to Lille.
I on the other hand began a wide turn below Ypres, dropped all four of my bombs onto an empty meadow, to jettison some ballast that way and coax my struggling engine to continue running - and the rest we left to fate - or at least that seemed to be the case judging from Henderson's morose expression. I pointed the Parasol's nose directly at our 'drome north of Armentieres and we clambered along, barely to make it onto our field, with the rotary now coughing and sputtering horribly. Granted, I touched down well enough; and Henderson, though nervous, was eventually relieved to find that we were in one piece.
Henderson's assumption, as to the problem at hand, was that our engine may have been damaged on our previous mission, by German rifle fire around the factory near Lens that we had photographed. This was likely, for our wings had also absorbed several rounds that day. My consolation was, however, that HQ found the photographs of the facility invaluable and suspected that this was most likely the hidden Pfalz factory they had been speculating upon recently, and not the one near Menen that we had earlier investigated.