Carrick - Welcome to Jeffrey! Excellent pics as always. I like the one of Jeffrey lurking below the Hannover. Stay fast but keep an eye on that temperature gauge. The SE Hispano is more temperamental than Eliza with low blood sugar... Cruising at 1800 RPM seems to work well through 12K. Gods below! I just realized I've been misspelling "termperamental" for over 40 years. If there's a 'Comeback player of the DID Campaign' award, you've got it locked up. I wish Jeffrey a long career. BTW, he wouldn't happen to have a cousin named Yukon, by chance?
Lou - No worries at all. So many references, so little time. Rather like historical aerodromes... In the words of one of Oliver's ghosts, "there will be a test later." Shame about poor Dyer. I fear he won't be the last. I have no doubt that Freddy and the boys will give him a proper send off.
Raine - Posts passing in the night. MacAlister using the Stewpot method for 2-seaters with success. Well done. Every time Oliver tries it he gets well-ventilated. Close one there for the young George! Sluggish controls are never fun and I can't imagine what they must be like in the torque-monster Camel. I was worried there that he might be forced down in Hunland. Stark and terrifying screen cap. Brilliant.
Fullofit - How is Ziggy getting on with the nurses in the Marne sector?
À la Recherche du Temps Perdu - Part 47 of many
4 November 1917 56 Squadron RFC Estrée-Blanche, France
Johnson left for HE this morning and A-Flight are much the less for it. Another old hand gone.
9.00 Escort of 2 R.E.8s on bombing run east of Oppy. Hoidge, Turnbull, Harmon, Dodds, Cawson and Roy. Lost Dodds to a dud engine on way to the lines. After seeing the Harry Tate’s to the target and safely back through Allied lines we returned to Hunland looking for trouble.
3 Pfalz over Houplin aerodrome all wanted to kill me. I dragged them in a line while A Flight shot them down in turn. Reformed and climbed to 10000 ft heading SE toward La Petrie and Bersée aerodromes.
A single DFW over Bersée. My guns jammed after 20 rounds. Hoidge finished the job
Over Lens more Pfalz! This one shot past me and went after Cawson.
I broke into their circle. The Hun fell, thunderously, and his armor clattered upon him.
Another Pfalz stormed down into the fight. He was too keen and joined his fallen comrade.
No word yet on today's claims.
Hubert Charles, our indefatigable genius of an Equipment officer and my tentmate these past three months, will go to 9th Wing tomorrow. We threw a raucous party for him tonight.
Beery, slightly the worse for wear, pulled me aside. “Ripper, what was it Lewis said about the SE when in first arrived? Oh blast, you weren’t here then. Georgie, what did Lewis call it?”
“An abortion,” Hoidge replied. “The SE5 as turned out by Farnborough was an abortion.”
The entire squadron and for that matter all who fly the SE5 stand in Hubert’s debt. It was his modifications of defective designs which turned the SE into a killing machine. Grandpa Marson made one of many fine speeches to that effect.
5 November 1917 56 Squadron RFC Estrée-Blanche, France
Guy Fawkes Day, so my English comrades informed me. No bonfires possible but Wing had thoughtfully provided orders to strafe one of Kaiser Bill’s balloons NW of Marcoing, near that devilishly accurate Flak Batterie. There would be fireworks. Was this the same inflammable gasbag from August?
No Archie on the way to Marcoing. I went in first and put a full Lewis drum and 200 Vickers rounds into the balloon. Nothing. Made a second pass with Hoidge and Cawson. Same result. Two more firing runs to no effect whatsoever. Just like in August! All ammunition expended we slunk back to Estrée-Blanche. There is something very fishy with this balloon battery. I swear I saw the observer smoking a large pipe!
Major B-B sent a report of our findings up to Wing.
Only one of yesterday's Pfalz was confirmed. Eighty-seven.
6 November 1917 56 Squadron RFC Estrée-Blanche, France
We would have the balloon! Back to Marcoing, viciously archied the moment we crossed the lines. The observer parachuted to safety when we were still a half mile off. The balloon looked to be of a different fabric this morning.
It burned beautifully
Over Brayelles, 3 blue Albatri attacked from the East.
This one fell near the aerodrome, clawing the dust in his fingers.
Wing rejected both the balloon and the blue Albatros.
7 November 1917 56 Squadron RFC Estrée-Blanche, France
Morning patrol of enemy lines. On our way to Bapaume, another cooling line burst. Landed safely at Lozinghem aerodrome.
8 November 1917 56 Squadron RFC Estrée-Blanche, France
Morning line patrol Mossy Face to Cambrai. No e/a sighted.
4.00 Very late afternoon escort of 3 RNAS DH4s to bomb Hun positions near Monchy-le-Preux.
We took off to a gorgeous sunset only to land in total darkness.
A dull patrol. A terrifying landing. By guess and by God. I could scarcely make out the flare path. Amazingly, all made it down safely. Roy ran through into the field beyond but neither man nor machine suffered any damage. Not doing that again.
C Flight lost two men on the afternoon patrol, Cobbold and Cowan. Bowman reported Cowan attacked by an Albatros and as he went to Cowan’s aid saw him spinning into a cloud and the Hun exiting to the East. Cobbold got separated when C Flight attacked a flight of Magpies. Nobody saw him after that.
9 November 1917 56 Squadron RFC Estrée-Blanche, France
8.45 Early morning escort of 2 Harry Tates to bomb the Roulers Rail Junction. Weather rainy with occasional squalls. Barely flyable. Visibility extremely poor. With C-Flight trailing high we slogged through the rain.
Periwinkle Abs attacked at the lines. In the ensuing scrum, more akin to blind man's bluff, I nearly collided with Hoidge, after which I pulled up high and flew top cover dropping in to clear the occasional SE. The Huns were badly outnumbered and when we returned to Estrée-Blanche Grandpa was writing up claims for six of the seven. A flight bagged two, and C flight the other four.
10 November 1917 56 Squadron RFC Estrée-Blanche, France
Morning patrol was another balloon strafe, this time opposite Vimy Ridge.
Tremendous hail of ground fire on the attack run. I could hear the canvas ripping as the bullets passed through B.35. I’d nearly emptied the Lewis drum when both guns stopped.
Wing once again claimed we'd hit the wrong balloon and questioned why was a claim being forwarded when the dirigible had failed to explode. Grandpa was on the phone for nearly an hour attempting without success to explain the difference between flammable and inflammable. Claim denied.
11 November 1917 56 Squadron RFC Estrée-Blanche, France
10.00 Escort 3 R.E.8s from RFC-13 on recce of enemy lines between Lens and Athies. Hoidge, Turnbull, Cawson and Roy. The Harry Tates would go in very low, barely 2000 feet. I kept A flight above at 3000. Even so we had a hot reception from the Boche gunners.
On the first turn south, Albatri attacked. Magpies of Jasta 26!
One chased Roy, but when I attacked the Hun made a run east.
He didn’t get far. East of Lens his life and strength left him.
A second flight of three joined the fight. I went round with one and after landing a few hits he tried to spiral climb away. When I landed another burst he dove and we scissored downwards, rolling.
When he crossed back in front of me, I put a solid burst into his engine.
The Hun fell off to the left and crash landed in a field 2 miles SW of Haubourdin aerodrome.
On my return Harris had my entire kit packed. It’s official. 56 Squadron transfer to 13th Wing tomorrow.
No news on the claims but the evening dispatch contained something even better. Jeffs is alive! He is unharmed, and officially reported as a prisoner of war.