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#4332702 - 01/29/17 05:53 PM Re: DiD Centenary Challenge [Re: CatKnight]  
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Banjoman Offline
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Antigua, Guatemala
Here is the latest status report.



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#4332723 - 01/29/17 06:59 PM Re: DiD Centenary Challenge [Re: CatKnight]  
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Ajax, ON
Thanks Banjoman, but I'm not dead yet. My lad just started. Did I press the wrong button in the survey?



"Take the cylinder out of my kidneys,
The connecting rod out of my brain, my brain,
From out of my arse take the camshaft,
And assemble the engine again."
#4332735 - 01/29/17 07:34 PM Re: DiD Centenary Challenge [Re: CatKnight]  
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Sorry, I'm sure that was my fault. I'll get it corrected in the next one.


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#4332750 - 01/29/17 08:13 PM Re: DiD Centenary Challenge [Re: CatKnight]  
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No problem Banjoman, and thanks again for your continued work on the report.


"Take the cylinder out of my kidneys,
The connecting rod out of my brain, my brain,
From out of my arse take the camshaft,
And assemble the engine again."
#4333580 - 02/01/17 01:27 AM Re: DiD Centenary Challenge [Re: CatKnight]  
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New Brunswick, Canada
I finally have a bit of time to write and introduce my new pilot.

A journal of the Great War -- By an Anonymous Aviator (unless this notebook should be found by a pretty girl, in which case my name is Colin Urquhart)

Part 1

I was in my final year as a boarding student at Upper Canada College in Toronto when the event occurred that was to change my life. Matty Novak and I went "over the wall" one January afternoon bound for the Pavlova dance hall near High Park. It had opened only recently and Matty had been there over Christmas break. We stopped at an address on Bloor Street, a place Matty knew, where an ugly old man filled Matty's silver flask with whiskey for 75 cents. We had it half done by the time we arrived at the Pavlova.

Sheila was nearly 23, the daughter of a city alderman, and a frequenter of the dance hall. I couldn't keep my eyes off her and she, having noticed our flask, couldn't keep her eyes off me. Temperance ruled in Ontario that year and you couldn't buy liquor anywhere legally. Sheila talked me into refilling the flask, so I took Matty's flask and my leave, and escorted this swell beauty back to Bloor and the ugly old man's apartment. It was cold as we walked along towards Christie Pits, where there was a hockey game going on under the lights. Sheila and I sat on a bench and passed the flask back and forward, talking and giggling all the while. I was getting a little dizzy, and was working my courage up for a kiss. Unfortunately Sheila chose that moment to get violently ill all over herself and me.

The rest of the evening was lost, but I awoke in a police station cell the next morning, horrifyingly aware of a Latin examination that I ought to have been writing at that very minute. A certain alderman had phoned the officer of the watch demanding my execution. The police were inclined to oblige him, but the physical training instructor from the school arrived and bailed me out. I was brought before Mr. Auden, the principal. I trembled as the Great Man spoke of his decision to rusticate me while he considered whether there might be any condition under which I could ever return to the College. He would, of course, be informing my father.

I returned to my room and began to pack. My father would murder me. I knew it. Dr. Alexander Urquhart MD, FRCS headed the orthopaedic unit at Montreal's Royal Victoria Hospital. If ever there was a man interested in family pride, correct behaviour, and social climbing, it was my father. There had been hell to pay if ever I placed a mere second in my class. He was very proud when I'd been accepted at UCC, and now I was being sent home in shame.

I was sitting in Union Station that same afternoon, awaiting the train home to Montreal, when a group of fellows came in laughing and bantering. One of them asked me for a match. I didn't have one, as I didn't smoke. Instead I asked him for a cigarette. It was important to try everything before I died, and it was certain that my father was going to kill me tomorrow. The fellows were off to England, they explained. They had joined the Royal Naval Air Service and enrolled in the Curtiss Flying School in Long Branch, but the school was suspended for the winter and they were going broke waiting to get their certificates. So the powers in Ottawa had allowed them to enlist in the RNCVR and were sending them to Halifax to train as ordinary seaman. After that they'd get their probationary commissions and head for England to learn to fly.

So I was off to the Navy. I enlisted that afternoon and told the petty officer that if he could get me sworn in I would make my own way to Halifax to join the group I'd met. To my surprise that is exactly what he did. I had a good sum of money with me, as my father had set up a joint account for my pocket money, books, and tuition. I had emptied the account that morning before Mr. Auden could telegraph my parents.

The train went by way of Kingston, Montreal, Quebec City, Moncton, and Truro. After Kingston, I wrote a long and mournful letter to my sainted mother explaining my academic downfall and decision to volunteer. I mailed it from the train station. In the letter I did not identify which branch of the service I was in or where I was bound. My father might have tried to interfere.

The next months were hectic. I spent two months on a training vessel in Halifax, learning not much. Finally, in April 1916 we were sent off to England on the liner Scandanavian, bound for Glasgow. From there we were sent to Redcar, in the northeast of England, for flying training. They made us probationary flight sub-lieutenants and put us up in the village. It felt like home since there were so many Canadians there. The weather delayed our flying a great deal and it was July before I was allowed to solo in a G3 Caudron. I circuited well enough, but broke the landing gear coming down. We learned a myriad of other subjects, such as meteorology, rigging, engine construction and maintenance, navigation, etc., etc. etc.

Due to wind, weather and a surfeit of students, I was in Redcar until August. In that time I flew the Avro and a Curtiss JN-4. From Redcar I went to Eastchurch, on an island on the south side of the Thames Estuary. There I advanced to Shorthorns, or "Rumpeties" as we called them. We began the study of aerial gunnery and observation. In early September, I was posted to 3 Naval Wing at Manston. The Wing was to fly the new Sopwith two-seaters, called Strutters, but their arrival was slowed by losses in France. The Navy had issued a number of its Strutters to the RFC, it seemed.

The RNAS (which many in the know claimed stood for "Rather Naughty After Sunset") had ordered 3 Naval Wing to establish a base at Luxeuil-les-Bains, in the Vosges Mountains of eastern France, not too far from Nancy and within range of the German border. From there our aircraft were to cooperate with the French in long-range bombing of industrial targets in Germany. I learned in mid-September 1916 that I would meet the war there. I arrived in Luxeuil late on 26 September, flying with two other crews in our new Strutters. I was the only one to complete the journey on schedule.

The base at Luxeuil was broad and spacious. 3 Naval Wing shared the field with the French 4e Group de Bombardement, led by a piratical-looking, bearded fellow named Capitaine Happe. Alongside Happe's gang were a most unusual gathering of Americans, Squadron N.124, also called the Escadrille Americaine. This group of volunteer Yankee "Frenchmen" were a hard-partying crowd who welcomed us with cases of champagne.

On 27 September 1916, I piloted Obsvr S/Lieut Nathanial Buck, another Canadian (from Elmira, Ontario) and two other Strutters on an orientation flight over the lines. It was far harder to hold station in our formation over the mountains that it had been in England. It must have been due to updraughts from the hills. We saw the outlines of the trenches and dugouts below and the marks of shells in the earth. The terrain is heavily wooded, but the area of the lines is a bit of a wasteland. Nothing fired at us and we saw no other aircraft.

That afternoon we went on a second flight, only this time I was ordered to take the lead position and find our way to the assigned sector of the lines. Fortunately the weather had cleared a little and I could trace a path from wood to wood and lake to lake. The occasional rail line helped to confirm location. It will be a long time before I can do this without constant fear of getting lost and landing in Germany.

That night I heard from my father for the first time since I left school in January. A telegram sent to the Admiralty four days ago had found me, arriving at dinner time. I opened it nervously and read the terse message:

IF ALIVE WRITE IF DEAD DONT BOTHER STOP
FATHER

[Linked Image]
Upper Canada College

[Linked Image]
First flight from Luxeuil



#4333605 - 02/01/17 04:15 AM Re: DiD Centenary Challenge [Re: CatKnight]  
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Raine, it's so good to have you back.


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#4333612 - 02/01/17 05:07 AM Re: DiD Centenary Challenge [Re: CatKnight]  
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Nice one Raine! As a Toronto raised lad much of the local content is very familiar to me. I enjoyed that touch.

Cheers mate


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#4333946 - 02/02/17 04:53 AM Re: DiD Centenary Challenge [Re: CatKnight]  
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Dudley Nightshade
Flt. Lt.
6 RNAS





1 Feb 1917.

Mission: Recon Escort for 2 1 1/2 ers
B FLT: 6 a/c mix N17 Bis and N-11 BeBe's
E/A: 3 Albatross Scouts
Results: 1 N-11 in Flames. Enemy ?

Remarks: I Stayed with Bombers as the Rest engaged ( my 1st time flying the N-11 a twitchy machine). I confirm old Nick Charles got shot down in flames an Albatross skidded

behind him and He Brewed right up.

Sqn Losses : 1 N-11 + 2 N-17's Damaged.

#4334187 - 02/03/17 01:34 AM Re: DiD Centenary Challenge [Re: CatKnight]  
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Dudley Nightshade
Flt. Lt.
6 RNAS

Feb 2, 1917.


Morning Parade: Assigned a Hand me down a/c from 9 RNAS. Re built Motor and new Flying Wire, it also came with two 97 Rd Drums instead of the standard 47 rd drum.

B flights 6 machines were assigned to a late morning Aerodrome Security flight. No contact.


#4334212 - 02/03/17 03:11 AM Re: DiD Centenary Challenge [Re: CatKnight]  
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A journal of the Great War By an Anonymous Aviator (Colin Urquhart)

Part 2

Luxeuil-les-Bains has to been the most beautiful field in all of France. It is situated in an open plain of grass surrounded by the Vosges Mountains. We are not far from the Swiss border to the south, and within range of the Rhine and Germany. The advance party came out here in June to put the place together and we have fine, albeit rustic, huts with wood stoves so we shall we comfortable enough come winter.

Our crowd is very largely Canadian. The Wing Captain, Daddy Elder, is British as is the operational commander, Wing Commander Bell-Davies. There are a few other Brits, like Flt Commanders Chris Draper and Norman MacGregor. But a lot of the rest are Canucks. I share a hut with John Sharman from Manitoba; Jimmy Glen from Enderby, British Columbia; John Page from Brockville, Ontario; Ray Collishaw from Nanaimo, BC; and Arthur Dissette from Toronto. Even a good number of our gunlayers are Canadian.

As tolerably comfortable as we are, we are no match for the Americans across the way who have installed themselves in a fine villa in the town. The town of Luxeuuil is pretty little place with a thermal spa that dates back to Roman times, they say. There are a number of good shops and little cafs and restaurants. The Yanks are a crowd to be reckoned with, mostly rich and a few truly unusual, including one fellow who has already been at war with the Foreign Legion. Their mascot is a lion, which I was assured is quite friendly, although I did not try to test the proposition.

The Americans invited us to dinner on the 27th. They have set up their mess in the restaurant of the Hotel Lion dOr, the poshest place in town. The night began with many toasts. Wing Commander Elder toasted President Poincar. Captain Thnault, the Frenchman who leads the American escadrille, toasted the King. Raoul Lufbery, one of the earlier Americans to join the French, toasted one of their fellows killed last Saturday. It descended rapidly from there, with toasts to Marie Dressler of Canada and Theda Bara of the USA (we conceded they won that match) and to the losers of the war of 1812. It was the debate over that last point that started the chinaware flying. The aubergiste of the place couldnt stop the madness and we shall all be out much money this month. We have resolved to settle the 1812 question over a baseball game.

We are flying training missions while we await more Sopwith 1 Strutters to arrive from England. Then we shall begin operations with Capitaine Happes 4e Groupe de Bombardement and the Escadrille Americaine. On 28 September we flew two long patrols up to the lines near Thann, practising formation flying. It is far more difficult that I thought it would be because the mountains here force us to climb and there is not too much difference between stall speed and maximum speed, and one must be careful when adjusting the throttle or mixture.

On 29 September, Wing Commander Bell-Davies assigned me the task of leading three machines north to Luneville to practise joining up with some French Farmans. Just south of Luneville, however, we saw three monoplanes a few miles off to the west. I suspected they were Moranes, but decided to take a closer look. We soon found ourselves in a topping mix-up with three Fokkers of the latest two-gun type. And to boot, I got above one and dived on it, firing all the way. As I zoomed up and around to come back at the HA, I whooped with delight to see his machine streaming white smoke and its propeller windmilling. I fired at it again and saw the Fokker tumble out of control and crash into a wood five thousand feet below. Sharmans machine was below, circling another Hun. I flew to assist him, but he bagged his Fokker before I got there. The third enemy machine escaped.

There was much yelling and singing on our return. We are still waiting for someone to confirm my Hun, as Sharman saw him tumbling but not crash.

That afternoon we were given an operational show! Four machines, led by F/S/L Dissette, were bound for a rail junction near Colmar, well behind the enemy lines. We are not really supposed to engage in more than training for the moment, so orders were to bomb from 11,000 feet. We dropped our bombs, some of which actually hit the field, and began to regroup. My gunlayer, Buck, suddenly opened fire and I saw a lone Fokker approaching from behind and below. I headed west as I didnt fancy a long fight this far over and the other Strutters were a long way off. Near the lines the Hun caught up with us and I turned the aircraft around to engage him. We circled a long time, diving and zooming and trying to turn under one another. It was dodgy, because there were very high mountains all around and the trees sometimes came up on us in a hurry. Then I got a long distance burst at the Hun. A few moments later I saw him lose control, whether because of my fire or simply because of a stall I cannot tell. In any event, the HA crashed into a wooded hillside and burned. It will take some luck to get my claim confirmed as it was still some distance from our lines. We had a balloon up, so who knows. The RO will try to get in touch with the balloonatics to see if they saw anything.


"The town of Luxeuuil is pretty little place..."


"As I zoomed up and around to come back at the HA, I whooped with delight to see his machine streaming white smoke and its propeller windmilling."

#4334355 - 02/03/17 02:41 PM Re: DiD Centenary Challenge [Re: CatKnight]  
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Marvellous stories, Raine! Absolutely marvellous.

I thought I had a brilliant idea: I was going to enlist a French pilot flying in one of the escadrilles comprising GB 4 and stationed at Luxeuil. Unfortunately it's not currently possible with the planes available in WOFF in late 1916. pitchafit

So now I'll have to think of something else for my next pilot. Too bad - it could have been interesting to have our pilots in the same location, albeit fighting for different countries.


"Upon my word I've had as much excitement on a car as in the air, especially since the R.F.C. have had women drivers."

James McCudden, Five Years in the Royal Flying Corps
#4334372 - 02/03/17 03:13 PM Re: DiD Centenary Challenge [Re: CatKnight]  
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And now Hasse is rejoining, the reading is going to be really good.


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#4334391 - 02/03/17 04:41 PM Re: DiD Centenary Challenge [Re: CatKnight]  
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yep

The more the Merry er ? Hasse: thats on my wish list all the a/c flyable in WWI

Last edited by carrick58; 02/03/17 04:52 PM.
#4334394 - 02/03/17 04:51 PM Re: DiD Centenary Challenge [Re: CatKnight]  
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Dudley Nightshade
6 RNAS
Flt LT
B Flight.



Our 6 machines did an Escort for Be 2's. No contact for them. The Flight was spread all over the sky like Jam on Bread. As we headed home, One N-17 dropped out ( Ground Fire ? Motor ? ) He is Listed as missing. I spotted and dove on 2 Dfw Types and we shot it out till I took to many hits then Dove for home only to land on our side of the lines by a Balloon Detachment. Counted 18 hits Plus a fuel Leak.




#4334486 - 02/03/17 09:09 PM Re: DiD Centenary Challenge [Re: CatKnight]  
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Journal Entry: 2 February, 1917
St. Pol-sur-Mer

It has been a while since I've written anything in my journal and to be quite honest, I had all but decided to quit. Between flying and the responsibilities inherent in running a fighting squadron, I just couldn't find the time. It was a letter from my dear old father that rekindled my interest in saving my thoughts and experiences in something more secure than just my memory. My father is what you would call a capitalist through and through, why if he could sell sand to the Bedouins he certainly would. Anyway, the gist of his letter involved me making a fortune selling my memoirs after the war. He reminded me just how well Winston Churchill had done on his various war memoirs. Of course, I have no intention of selling my memoirs, it would seem almost blasphemous to do so. What I will do is begin anew with the hope that someone in the future could learn something from what we have experienced and accomplished in the war.

I received the news of our impending transfer to St. Pol with mixed emotions, while I have generally enjoyed our stay here in Vert Galand it would not be honest of me to deny that the thought of returning where it all began for me doesn't hold a certain attraction. I can hardly believe it has been over a year and a half since I began combat flying and to return to where I took my first tentative steps makes me certainly nostalgic. The boys have no memories of St. Pol and so the move is meaningless to them, just another spot on the map. Their only concern is will their physical needs be met and who can blame them, I too was once like that. The other bit of news is to be a surprise when we arrive at St. Pol and so I haven't shared this with the men. We are trading in our beloved Pups for the Tripehound. If everything that I've read and heard about this kite is true then I don't think the men will miss their Pups for long.

3 February - The move went smoothly without any significant problems. The men were a bit surprised to see the lorries waiting for us when we landed and their surprise grew when the riggers began to disassemble the Pups. Imagine my joy when I could then inform them of our new kites that were waiting on the lorries. The men jumped to it and helped with the disassembly, reminded me of children at Christmas. As soon as the first Tripehound was assembled I had Higgins set to it to apply my personal markings so that I could fly tomorrow's sorties.



Life is certainly strange, I return as a battle proven combat pilot to the place where I once was a frightened fledgling scared of my own shadow. It will be interesting to see what new memories I make in my time in St. Pol.


Edit: Removed the summer picture and replaced the correct winter picture, oops.

Last edited by Banjoman; 02/03/17 10:57 PM.

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#4334670 - 02/04/17 05:25 PM Re: DiD Centenary Challenge [Re: CatKnight]  
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Dudley Nightshade
6 RNAS
Flt LT
B Flight.



Feb 4, 1917.


Posted to cover Aerodromes, flew along with 9 machines, one returned early ( heard later that it was a rough Engine, but may have been LMF ). No contact.

#4334674 - 02/04/17 05:47 PM Re: DiD Centenary Challenge [Re: CatKnight]  
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Just realized I haven't posted the news yet!

Intrepid Fliers - September 1916:

September 1
Bulgaria declared war on Romania.
The British and Russian Governments concluded the "Sykes-Picot" agreement for the eventual partition of Asia Minor.
Fourteen Zeppelins raided England dropping bombs from Gravesend, east of London, to Peterborough. One Zeppelin, Schutte-Lanz S.L. 11, was shot down over London by a British airplane.
September 3
The British advanced at Guillemont and the French captured Foret; at the same time the Battle of Delville Wood ended with a tactical victory for the Allies.
September 4
Dar-es-Salaam in German East Africa was surrendered to British forces.
September 5
British troops captured Leuze Wood during the Battle of Guillemont.
September 6
The Battle of Guillemont ended.
September 7
The Battle of Kisaki took place between German and South African forces near the town of Kisaki during the East African campaign.
September 8
The Battle of Kisaki ended in a German victory.
September 9
In the intermediate phase of the Battle of the Somme, British troops captured the German held village of Ginchy, a strategically important post at the Battle of Ginchy.
September 10
French and Serbian forces broke out of Thessaloniki, advancing north on the Macedonian Front.
September 11
Greek Prime Minister Alexandros Zaimis tendered his resignation.
September 12
The Battle of Kajmakcalan began in the foothills of Mount Kajmakcalan on the Macedonian Front between Serbian and Bulgarian soldiers.
September 14
Italian and Austro-Hungarian forces again fought each other along the Isonzo River as the Seventh Battle of the Isonzo began.
September 15
The Battle of Flers-Courcelette saw the first deployment of British armoured tanks when the British Fourth Army launched a large scale offensive on the Somme. The battle signified the start of the third stage of the Somme Offensive.
September 16
Nikolaos Kalogeropoulos replaced Alexandros Zaimis as Prime Minister of Greece.
September 18
The Seventh Battle of the Isonzo ended. Italian troops under the command of Field Marshall Luigi Cadorna succeeded in wearing away at Austro-Hungarian resources, both in terms of manpower and in crucial artillery availability.
September 19
Belgian forces captured Tabora, the capital city of German East Africa.
Allied forces began a naval blockade of the Greek Macedonian Coast between the Rivers Struma and River Mesta.
September 20
The Brusilov Offensive ended with a decisive Russian victory.
September 22
The Battle of Flers-Courcelette ended; the strategic objective of a breakthrough had not been achieved although tactical gains had been made with the capture of the villages of Martinpuich, Courcelette and Flers.
September 23
Twelve Zeppelins bombed London and the English East Coast. Two of the invading aircraft were brought down.
September 24
French aircraft bombed the Krupp munitions works at Essen in Germany.
September 25
The Battle of Morval began with an attack by the British Fourth Army on the German held villages of Morval, Gueudecourt and Lesboeufs.
September 26
The Battle of Thiepval Ridge began with the aim of building on the Fourth Army attack at Morval 24 hours earlier.
September 28
The Battles of Morval and Thiepval Ridge both ended with victories for Allied forces.
September 29
Eleftherios Venizelos and Admiral Condouriotis announced the formation of a new Greek Provisional Government in Crete, in opposition to government in Athens.
September 30
Serbian forces captured the eastern and western peaks of Mount Kajmakcalan as the Battle of Kajmakcalan came to an end.

(From The Great War - Unseen Archives by Robert Hamilton)


"Take the cylinder out of my kidneys,
The connecting rod out of my brain, my brain,
From out of my arse take the camshaft,
And assemble the engine again."
#4334675 - 02/04/17 05:48 PM Re: DiD Centenary Challenge [Re: CatKnight]  
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Warbirds Rising News of the World for January 1917:

January 1
The Cunard troopship Ivernia was torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-47 off the Greek coast in the Mediterranean Sea.
General Sir Douglas Haig was promoted to Field Marshal.
January 3
German forces captured Focsani in Romania.
January 4
The Russian battleship Peresvet sank off Port Said, Egypt, after hitting a mine laid by German U-boats.
January 5
A conference was held in Rome between representatives from the British, French and Italian Governments.
January 6
The last Russian and Romanian forces evacuated Dobrudja in Romania.
January 7
The Allied Conference in Rome closed.
January 9
The day long Battle or Rafa completed the recapture of the Sinai Peninsula when Ottoman forces were driven back by British troops during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign.
The Royal Navy battleship HMS Cornwall was sunk by German submarine U-32 in the Mediterranean.
Prince Nikolai Dmitriyevitch Golitsyn replaced Alexander Trepov as Prime Minister of Russia.
January 10
The Allied powers replied to US President Wilson's Peace Note of December 1916 outlining their peace objectives.
January 11
Germany and Turkey signed a Settlement Treaty in Berlin.
German and Austro-Hungarian Governments issued a Note repudiating responsibility for continuance of the War.
January 14
A provisional Council of State was set up in Warsaw, Poland.
The Japanese battle cruiser Tsukuba was sunk while in port at Yokosuka after an internal explosion.
January 16
The German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmermann sent a telegram to his ambassador in Mexico, instructing him to propose an alliance against the United States with the Mexican government. Zimmermann believed that a war between Mexico and the United States would prevent American involvement in the European war.
January 17
An Inter-Allied conference convened at Petrograd to discuss war policy, finance and cooperation.
January 19
The Zimmermann telegram was intercepted and deciphered by the British.
A massive explosion in East London occurred when a large quantity of TNT exploded at a munitions factory in Salvertown.
January 20
General Reginald Hoskins succeeded General Jan Smuts in command of British forces during the East African Campaign.
January 22
US President Wilson addressed the US Senate and appealed for a settlement of the conflict in Europe on the basis of "peace without victory".
January 23
Royal Navy destroyer HMS Simoom was blown up by gunfire from German destroyers during action off the Schouwen Bank near Zeebrugge.
January 24
The Greek Government formally apologized to Allied Governments for refusing the Entente demands in December 1916.
January 25
German destroyers shelled Southwold and Wangford on the Suffolk coast in England.
A British attack on the Turkish salient at Hal met initial success but was beaten back by a Turkish counterattack.
January 26
British and Indian troops recaptured the trenches lost on 25 January at Hal.
January 27
The British steamer SS Artist was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-55 west of The Smalls near Newport in Wales.
January 31
The German Government announced that it would resume unrestricted naval warfare from the 1st February.

(From The Great War - Unseen Archives by Robert Hamilton)


"Take the cylinder out of my kidneys,
The connecting rod out of my brain, my brain,
From out of my arse take the camshaft,
And assemble the engine again."
#4334808 - 02/05/17 03:03 PM Re: DiD Centenary Challenge [Re: CatKnight]  
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Banjoman, great episode. I read it over Sunday brekkies. It's great to have so many writing here. We have to recruit T3G to join the campaign. Has anyone heard from Maeran of late?

Fullofit, thanks for the news update.

#4334810 - 02/05/17 03:12 PM Re: DiD Centenary Challenge [Re: CatKnight]  
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That was a great report, Banjoman! Looking forward to more. Fullofit - thanks for the news report! smile

Gentlemen, let me now introduce my new pilot, sous-lieutenant Bruno Berthier of Escadrille C 66!

***

8 October 1916. Plateau de Malzville, Escadrille C 66.

Sous-lieutenant Bruno Berthier quickly dusted off his dark blue chasseur uniform, made sure all his pockets were properly closed and then knocked on the door of capitaine Henri de Krillis.

Come in, the door is not locked! Berthier pushed the wooden door and entered the office of his new commanding officer. The room was small. It was dominated by a large oaken desk surrounded by a few simple chairs. The walls were covered with maps of the Western Front. Underneath them Berthier could see a faded reddish wallpaper with typical flower patterns from the previous century. The room was illuminated with light streaming in through a window on the wall next to the desk. Sitting behind it was a tall man with dark hair and a neatly trimmed moustache. He was wearing a simple bleu horizon uniform with a pair of golden pilot wings above his right breast pocket. Berthier saluted the captain.

Mon capitaine, I am sous-lieutenant Bruno Berthier. I was ordered to report to you for my assignment to your escadrille.

Ah, our latest aviator! Fresh from Avord, yes? Krillis flashed a warm smile at Berthier.

Yes, mon capitaine. I graduated only last week. The depot ordered me here a couple of days ago. I brought my records with me. Berthier approached the desk and handed a folder to Krillis.

Thank you. Please, sit down; I want to take a look at what youve been up to at Avord - and before!

With Berthier somewhat nervously sitting on a rather uncomfortable chair at the other side of the desk, Krillis started going through the documents. So youre from Normandy? Ah, and you served in the chasseurs! Of course - you have the dark blue uniform! You were planning a military career before the war?

Yes, I was in the 8e bataillon de chasseurs pied as the war broke out. Like all chasseurs, the battalion was acting as a covering force for the army during mobilization. We were among the first to encounter the hordes of the invading boche. Berthier was proud of his service and Kerllis could hear it in his voice.

We delayed the enemy advance throughout August 1914, and then participated in the counterattack on the Marne.

That is when you were wounded, yes? Krillis was quickly going through the service record of Berthier.

Yes, on the 12th of September. I was leading my platoon when we ran into a boche rear guard in a small copse of trees. Berthier raised his left leg in the air and pointed at it. I was hit by a rifle bullet - right here. He smiled somewhat wryly. Angered by this, my men chased the boche out of the woods. I dont think they bothered to take any prisoners.

I see you were mentioned in dispatches by the division. It must have been quite an engagement!" Krillis continued his reading.

It was. I tried to keep up with my men but couldnt. They had to bandage me and then carry me to the nearest aid station. Berthier grimaced. In the chaos of battle, it took a few hours. Not a pleasant memory, but I survived.

It was fortunate that you did! Theres a pretty long list of military hospitals in your record, Krillis looked up from the document, somewhat surprised.

Yes, mon capitaine. The leg was badly hurt and had to be operated multiple times. I spent over six months convalescing. I was fortunate that they didnt have to cut it off completely.

Indeed! And then you were transferred to a depot in Paris?

Yes. A chasseur must be able to run quickly. I no longer could, so they had no use for me on the front. Instead, I was given an office job in Paris. Krillis could see a fierce flash in Berthiers blue eyes.

I felt miserable there. Right from the very first day in the office. After spending a few weeks there pushing papers around, I thought I was going to lose my mind.

Many officers would gladly take a bullet in the leg for a transfer to a depot in Paris, Krillis looked Berthier in the eyes, studying his reaction.

Yes, mon capitaine. I guess Im not one of them. Berthier wasnt joking.

I can see you are not! Was it difficult to get accepted into the air force? Krillis was starting to like the young chasseur officer.

It took some effort. But I figured that having a bad leg wouldnt be such an obstacle for flying than it is for light infantry work. Apparently, I was able to convince them of that. Berthier was grinning happily now.

Krillis read through the rest of Berthiers record. Bruno had been accepted into pilot training in early 1916 and was assigned to the military flight school at Avord, which was among the largest of its kind in the whole world. He had been a good student, though not excellent, completing his training without any serious trouble.

I see you have experience from flying Caudrons? Berthier nodded. Trs bon! Now Escadrille 66 is currently equipped with the Caudron G.4, so you should fit in quite well here. Capitaine Krillis stood up and pushed his chair back. Then he turned to face one of the maps covering the walls and motioned for Berthier, who was already standing, to come look at it.

Pressing his finger on the map, Krillis proceeded to explain the situation to Berthier. Were here at Malzville - part of Groupe de bombardement 2, under Army Detachment Lorraine. Our sector extends from left here in the western area of Nancy to the line Epinal - Rambervillers - Badon on the right. The rest of the escadrilles are stationed at these fields

For several minutes, Krillis moved his finger around the map, tapping it on various locations and explaining which units and formations they contained, and how everything related to the military situation on the whole front. Berthier listened carefully, trying to memorize as many details as he could. Finally the captain finished his lecture and turned to face Berthier. He looked very serious now.

Berthier, my escadrille is considered to be one of the finest of its kind in the whole aronautique militaire. We take our business quite seriously, and expect the best from our officers and men. Do you think youre up to the challenge?

Without hesitation, Berthier replied: Mon capitaine, I will do my best!

Trs bon! Thats all I ask of my men! The captain smiled and then motioned with his hand toward the door. Now let us go and introduce you to the rest of the escadrille. Then we can get you properly started with a little practice flight, since the day is still young.

Krillis proceeded to leave the office with Berthier following him closely behind. As the two men stepped outside, they could see the sun shining brightly through a gap in the dark cloud cover of the early autumn.

Somewhere in the distance, a few guns boomed like thunder.



TO BE CONTINUED...


"Upon my word I've had as much excitement on a car as in the air, especially since the R.F.C. have had women drivers."

James McCudden, Five Years in the Royal Flying Corps
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