17 January, 1916 Toul, Verdun Sector Sergent Gaston A. Voscadeaux
“- ...ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Amen.” The priest made a sign of cross with his hand to bless the two coffins lying side by side, ready to be lowered into the graves that were dug last evening. The two altar boys standing behind the priest looked completely bored having attended countless ceremonies like this one. There were no family members present at this funeral. The closest to family were members of Escadrille C17 present to pay their last respects. The pallbearers lowered the coffins into the ground and the CO was the first to pick up some dirt and throw it on each coffin. The rest of the squad members followed by forming a line. There was a simple wreath hanging from each cross at the head of the grave obscuring the plaque with the names. Sergent Niels Reille 1897-1916 and Caporal Bartlett de Neufville 1880-1916. And that was it, that was the end of another two lives. Gaston attended many of such funerals ... and worse. He hated this. He hated how savage people have become in spite of the evolution. Killing for what? On whose orders? Le President? Der Kaiser? The King? Madness! It was late in the afternoon. The ceremony was over and the pilots were dispersing. The only one left standing over the two fresh graves was Gaston’s gunner, Adjutant Ernest Becquerel, as always silent with his pipe between the teeth, shaggy beard and a look of desolation. Gaston paused and wondered what the big bear was thinking. Did he know any of the two men well? Maybe one day he will find out. Gaston was walking back to the aerodrome replaying in his mind this morning’s mission. There were a few raids lately on their aerodrome, so it was high time to return the favour. Gaston and Caporal Sourdiac were tasked with bombing the Mars-la-Tour aerodrome. Their two machines were complemented by another one in A flight piloted by Sergent Levy. The weather was picture-perfect and the visibility excellent. They were able to find their target with ease and drop their bombs with a good degree of accuracy. A few hangars were set on fire and the large brick house was damaged as well. They were lucky to avoid any enemy scouts and returned safely back with time to spare to prepare for the funeral. Gaston prayed that he would not have to attend another one any time soon.
"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."
#4457790 - 01/18/1909:22 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Joined: Oct 2011 Posts: 704Ace_Pilto
The queue at the bank was far too long for any nation holding the pretense of running its' affairs with anything even remotely approaching efficiency.
Drummond had 'acquired' a rather large sum of money after introducing the regulars of a London pub to the sport of Two Up. His total wealth now stood at an impressive 200 pounds which was more money than he could have ever imagined possessing and, having recently been fortunate enough to secure a passport and visa from his introduction to the father of Lt Drummond, Percival was preparing for his enlistment.
Drummond Sr had been a funny old buffer, Percy cooked up a story about having been knocked back by the local Army recruiters in Australia due to his dalliance with the local Captain's daughter and then had claimed that he'd stowed away on the Omrah in order to join the war and, being the firebrand patriot that he was Lord Drummond had slapped him on the back and promised him any assistance he required.
"Of course you'll never be able to buy a commission in a decent regiment you know, they don;t like colonials and especially those lacking in verifiable bonafides, you might try the artillery or summink. There's also the *hrmph* Flying Corps"
Drummond thought back to the gull, its' disdainful stream of excrement and the way that it had sailed lazily, easily off into the distance while he remained seabound.
"Yes" He uttered.
"What's that m'boy" The peer of the realm inquired.
"The Flying Corps sir. It's the Flying Corps for me."
Let's pretend I got the BWOC badge to embed here.
Wenn ihr sieg im deine Kampf selbst gegen, wirst stark wie Stahl sein.
#4457791 - 01/18/1909:34 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Great story Hasse. I’m surprised young Julius was disciplined enough and didn’t attempt to get a “closer look”.
Julius is not very rebellious and tends to follow orders to the letter. He's now particularly careful, trying to prove that he can be a good soldier too, like his father and brother. We will see what happens when he becomes a bit more experienced and comfortable in his new job as an Aviatik chauffeur.
I enjoy reading about Gaston's adventures - it's good to have some French pilots too in the DID! He's stationed in the Verdun sector. As we know, things will become interesting there in late February... Good luck!
"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
#4457792 - 01/18/1910:03 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Joined: Oct 2011 Posts: 704Ace_Pilto
A brilliant bunch of stories and reports again folks! I just got caught up with all of them during several cups of coffee. Most enjoyable!
2nd Lt. Swanson has had a busy time the last few days. The arrival of his old chum Jim Collins was a most welcomed surprise. Add to that, he was informed yesterday morning, just before patrols went out, that his very first claim was actually confirmed! And during his arty spotting mission shortly after that, he and his gunner/obs, Lt. Christopher Dent, wound up in another scrape, this time with a pair of E.IIIs that engaged them just east of Loos. Swany quickly put the Parasol into a turning dive as he attempted to give the Lieutenant a clear shot at their attackers. The man is a wizard with the Lewis and scared off one of the Eindeckers immediately while the other continued to press his attack. Swany was jinxing and twisting to stay out of the enemy's line of fire, but despite his best efforts the Hun pilot still managed to lace the side of the Morane between both cockpits. It was only pure dumb luck that resulted in neither of the British airmen being hit. After some further turns, dives, and gyrations Christopher at last got a good burst of fire directly into the engine of the Hun plane, causing it to go into a tight spin. They lost sight of the Eindecker as it dropped into the haze beneath them. Brief moments later Swany suddenly realized how low they gotten as bullets from the enemy trenches below went zipping past. The young pilot turned his nose west as fast as he could, and he tossed his bus about in the process to throw off the aim of the gunners. He ended up with a handful of vents in his right wing anyway. Swany and Christopher then attempted to locate the other two members of their flight but to no avail and finally had to give up looking and return to camp without them. They learned later that both had been damaged in fights with other EA and had been forced to land, one on the western edge of Loos, and the other in a field about two miles short of Auchel. Once back home, the team of Swanson and Dent turned in their reports and claim forms and went for breakfast where they were told a short while later that the main wing spar in their mount had been shot through and it would take until tomorrow evening to repair it. There would be no flying for them until the 19th, at the earliest, as the squadron was now short of available aeroplanes. This was just fine with Swany as it would likely take that long for the young man's nerves to settle back down to a reasonable level of calm.
Not what one wants to see coming at them.
Also, not what one wants to see coming up behind them. Thank God for a gunner/obs who knows how to shoot.
Finding one's self far too low over No Man's Land and incurring the wrath of the enemy gunners.
Back at Auchel, relatively safe and sound, despite the holes in the fuselage and wing.
#4457816 - 01/18/1903:41 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Thanks Fullofit. I will be very, very surprised if this one gets confirmed as there were no witnesses at all. Swany and Christopher ended up on their own fighting off that last Hun. So, no flight members to confirm, and too far from the British trenches to hope for ground confirmation, but we'll see. Miracles do happen.
#4457829 - 01/18/1904:13 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Thanks Carrick. I have to say, it is some seriously scary stuff going up against multiple Huns with the Morane. I have a newfound respect for the RL pilots who had to do it, (not that I didn't have great respect for them already, mind you).
#4457888 - 01/19/1912:44 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Gaston is getting the hang of locating the factories and managing to place his bombs on target. It helps that he’s already been to this particular one at Vigneulles les Hattonchatel. He led Cpl. Sourdiac in B flight who, along with Adj. Mezergues in A flight, were in turn escorted by no less than 3 N-10’s from Esc 31. It is nice to have a protection flying with you. There is a perceived morale boost when going over the line in force. The job becomes that much easier. Instead of dividing your attention between navigating and scanning for enemy planes, all one has to do now is simply check for your escorting flight. If they remain in their normal position, then you know you’re safe. The escort will spot the enemy long before you do and will give chase, so that you can continue with your mission. Gaston took advantage of that fact and concentrated solely on navigating to the target area. The factories were easily located and attacked by all flight members with the escorts being treated to a fireworks display. There were good hits and they left the factory engulfed in smoke. The return trip was uneventful and everyone landed safely, including all members of the escort flight. Later that day Adjutant Dumas was giving a tour to the new arrival. It was the replacement for Sergent Reille killed on the 15th. They caught up with Gaston in the mess where he was just finishing his serving of la gnôle. Dumas introduced him as Sgt. Ernest Durand. In Gaston’s eyes the boy wasn’t older than poor Reille. Hopefully he will last longer than him as well.
"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."
#4457889 - 01/19/1901:20 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Posted for a 2 a/c Arty Spot, but had problems. The 2nd machine had problems after take off so went home. My lone a/c was conducting the spot for a battery of 75mm quick-fires seemed spot on. However , in 7/10ths cloud cover and at 3000 meters , we didnt see much except 2 mono planes heading for us. As we twisted and turn , My Ob got off 17 Rds of MG fire ( 3 Bursts ) No hits just a lot of noise. What save us was Archie and a few MG nests on our side chased the Huns off.
Last edited by carrick58; 01/19/1901:29 AM.
#4457986 - 01/19/1906:59 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
It was a miserable day with heavy clouds and ground mist hanging in the air, yet the command insisted the conditions were satisfactory to take the B flight over the lines to bomb troop camp near Mars-la-Tour. This task was assigned to Gaston and Cprl. Sourdiac was to follow him. It was difficult to navigate to the target with most of the ground obscured by thick clouds. Once near the target Gaston noticed two enemy machines flying nearby.
Apparently German command was just as reckless with their pilots as the French one. Voscadeaux promised himself to go after them following the attack on the camp. For now he remained committed to attacking the troops as ordered. It was difficult to make out any of the ground features and Gaston almost missed his target completely. He noticed it as he was flying over it.
It was too late to drop his bombs and had to turn around for another go. Flying through the clouds made aiming difficult, but Gaston was positive his bombs found the intended target.
He immediately switched to tracking the two Aviatiks but they were long gone and out of view when Gaston took extra time to make a second run after he failed to drop his bombs on the initial approach. The Flak was starting to get closer and Voscadeaux decided to abandon his search. His gunner, Becquerel gave up his search as well and announced it by angrily slamming his fist on the edge of the nacelle coaming. “Don’t you worry. We’ll get them one of those days.” Gaston made a silent promise to his gunner. He quickly glanced at the compass and steered the Caudron south with Cprl. Sourdiac in tow. Finding the way home was much easier despite the gray cloud cover.
"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."
#4458065 - 01/20/1902:15 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Enjoying everybody's stories! I've been playing catch-up a little bit, but catch up I did! Sgt. Graham A. Campbell, St. Omer Aerodrome, France. No. 20 Squadron RFC.
January 15 - January 19.
I have been in France for four days now.
On the afternoon of the 15th Archer and I were joined by 2nd Lt. Justin Edwards - we were the last of the 20 Squadron Aeroplanes to leave Netheravon, and we were all on B.E’s. As my machine lifted into the sky, Edith peering over the edge of the front cockpit and waving goodbye to the hangars, I felt a sense of exhilaration at the thought that, in only three hours, I would be at St. Omer, our new home in France! It was only as we banked towards the Southern coast that I realised we had to get across the English Channel first.
During the water crossing, Edith’s face no longer wore his trademark grin. Instead, he sat painfully still, one hand gripping the side of the cockpit. The man had turned white as a sheet - when I asked him about his reaction later, he told me of the countless horror stories he had heard at Netheravon, of pilots engines’ failing in the middle of the Channel, where no machine can glide to land from. Not a soul in that predicament had survived.
By any means, our three B.E’s made it across safe and sound, and we landed at the Aeroplane Depot at St. Omer to collect our new F.E.2s. Edith and I picked out A6338 for ourselves - the rigger at the Depot scoffed at our choice, and let slip “Good luck to you!”, but any of the machines waiting for us were a marked improvement on the B.E’s we arrived in - so we were perfectly content with our choice as we lifted again for the second leg of our journey!
The sky was fading to dusk as we approached our new aerodrome, the Cirrus clouds above bronzed by the sun’s rays against a salmon-pink sky. Ahead of us Edith pointed out a lone Fee wheeling around the sky gaily - it was Jacky-Boy, up getting the lay of the land as per the Major’s instruction. We landed smoothly, as did Archer and Edwards, and de-planed, pulling off our cold-stiff flying gear. A Batman, Cpl. Weston, appeared before us in order to get us all billetted and settled in - after a cup of tea, naturally!
Of course, the Officers were given first refusal on what billetts were available. For the most part, they shacked up in two lovely red-tile roofed halls, which sat just to the rear of the fabric hangars (or at least, the spot in which the hangars would be!). The Commissioned pilots took control of one such hall, and the Observers took the other. Jacky-Boy decided to take Switch-off under his wing, and the pair are sharing a cozy little ‘room’ - thin drywall has been put up to create rooms in the building.
I was to share a large brick building with my compatriots from Netheravon - Archer and Jimmy Reynard. Fortunately, the airfield was excellently equipped for our outfit, and we had the entire Sergeant’s quarters to ourselves! This led to an episode of arranging the beds into two ‘forts’, in a drunken bout of nonsense, which we then proceeded to use as two ‘bases’ for our (rather distasteful, for poor old Jimmy,) re-enactment of the various battles fought in Scottish wars of independence, of old. This eventually led to the iron boiler earning the weird nickname of ‘Stirling Bridge’ after, in an impressive feat of rough-housing, in which Jimmy threw Archer and I, one by one, halfway across the floor and crashing into our ‘Castle’! If Edith had seen it, he may have put the red-headed brawler in for a M.C. But, where were the other NCOs?!
As Weston later explained, once we’d sought him out, the road transport column had become stuck in Rouen, due to the constant sluggish flow of vehicles down the veins of roads, all pumping towards the heart that was the frontlines. On top of that, the convoy had apparently run short on fuel, and would have to stop for more. So - we had arrived, but all of our supplies had not! Nor had the 95-or-so NCOs, including our Ack-Emmas, that left with the convoy - us Sergeant Pilots and Cpl. Weston were the only enlisted men on the aerodrome for now - a daunting thought!
As for our machines, the best three were crowded into the three rickety old wooden workshops for the time being. Our six-or-so fabric hangars were still in Rouen with the convoy! The rest of the machines were simply tied down and left outside.
The next morning, after Archer, Jimmy and I had hastily disassembled our castles and re-arranged the quarters into a presentable condition, Edith and I boarded A6338 and, after Weston had spun our prop (a spectacle in a Fee - he had to duck under the rear struts and stand in-among the ‘birdcage’ tail!) we took off into a foreboding cloudy sky in order to familiarize ourselves with the landscape. East-by-Northeast of us was the city of St. Omer, and just to the Southeast is Lumbres. Both serve as such good landmarks that I scarcely bothered checking the roads and railway lines! We ventured slightly further East, getting as far as the sleepy town of Hazebrooke before turning back. I am very glad of the two large towns near our aerodrome, as there don’t appear to be many landmarks in the immediate area otherwise! Later in the evening, the Major organised our squadron into three flights. I was assigned to ‘B’ flight.
Then, the big day came - the one that we had been equal parts dreading and anticipating - our first excursion to the frontlines.
The day had already gotten off to a good start, as we awoke to the sound of the mass of trucks arriving. Our convoy was here! Immediately after pulling up, NCOs piled out and begun feverishly working to flesh-out the skeleton of our aerodrome. Tents appeared from thin air, hangars were erected in record time, all before our eyes an aerodrome seemed to materialise from out of the silver morning dew!
In among the organised chaos, three Fees were wheeled onto the field by a ragtag group of Ack-Emmas. Edith and I were to make our maiden voyage to the lines alongside two new arrivals to the Squadron, Capt. Graves, an ex. Royal Field Artillery man who was to be our leader in ‘B’ Flight, and 2nd. Lt. Reid. We had been ordered by the Major himself to fly out to Givenchy, in sector FF4105, in order to “get used to flying over the mud”.
As we boarded our machine I was terribly braced, and shared in Edith’s grin as the recently-arrived Ack-Emmas spun my prop (more efficiently than poor old Cpl. Weston), and soon we had lifted, headed East! I was practically buzzing with excitement as Cpt. Graves pointed our flight of three towards Lillers, and found myself already scanning the skies for marauding huns! Edith, I noticed, was doing just the same.
We initially headed East down low, as the sky was nice and blue but heavily clouded, with plenty of low Cumulus. As we passed by the Etang de Romelaere (a small lake, the name of which I learned from our Louvert Mapping Co. Maps, which are excellently detailed), Edith swung around to face me, with the widest cheshire-grin I’ve seen him wear yet, and leaned back to pat me roughly on the shoulder, as if to say “This is it, here we go!”. I laughed and waved him away, as he had effectively completely limited my forward view! Laughing, he slumped back into his seat and begun to restlessly check the Lewis gun in the front Nacelle.
Finally we turned Eastwards over St. Omer, and opened our throttles full. For the third time so far, I was surprised at the extra power the 160hp Beardmore had over the B.E’s 90hp engine. Cpt. Graves led us into a long spiralling climb around St. Omer, during which Edith got out his Eastman Kodak Brownie, a lovely little personal camera which he tended to carry around with him wherever he went, and took a photograph of Reid’s Fee, out in front of us. Thoughtfully, he took a second photograph for me - if this becomes a trend, I will have quite the scrap-book to show around by the time we’ve won the war!
At 7,000 Ft. we headed towards the Front. The trip out was uneventful, save for a chance encounter with a pair of F.E’s from ‘A’ Flight, returning from their own ‘inspection of the Lines’. We waved to each other in passing.
Finally, the front came into view - a shocking dark scar, splitting France’s face in two - and I peered down at the awful hell and carnage below. God, the pictures in the papers barely did it justice, it was a horrendous sight. Edith’s camera stayed put as we crossed over the first darkened patches of mud. Below, I could make out the silent black lines of trenches, stretching out across the front, and felt a surge of pity for the men that had to occupy them. I wonder if my old outfit, the Sherwood Foresters, were down among those trenches I was regarding from the safety of the clouds. For an instant my pity turned to guilt. Just across the lines, the ominous shape of a German ‘Drachen’, or Sausage, balloon hung in the sky, silently watching over the fields of battle. I was at once thrilled to be looking at the enemy for the first time, and would have gone over to attack the balloon, had I not been bound to my flight leader!
We drifted close, but not over, the German lines, and I peered down at them. I saw nothing, but knew that thousands of enemy troops must be down there. Grinning like a child as he did so, Edith pointed the gun towards the lines, before turning back to me and winking. We didn’t linger long - Capt. Graves circled around, with Reid and I in tow, back onto our side. We had scarcely been over the front longer than 10 minutes, however, when the engine behind me suddenly backfired and begun to rumble and groan in an awfully worrying way, before lurching to a halt. It had stopped completely! Concernedly, Edith looked back at me, as I listed away from the formation, firing a distress flare as I did so, and begun to gradually descend. I tried to shout for Edith to find a nearby aerodrome on his map for us to land at, but the wind tore away my voice. Cautiously, I continued my descent and switched the Magnetos off, to prevent a fire should we crash upon landing.
To our right was Bethune - looking at my map, I spotted Hesdigneul Aerodrome nearby, to the South-West. I swung the now-silent Fee around and begun scanning the ground for the aerodrome. Ah, there it is. Gradually I let the Fee fall, calculating where I would need to be, and at what height, in order to make the landing. After a few hair-raising moments, we were down safe and sound, and the Ack-Emmas of No.15 squadron lazily strolled towards us. “Enjun Trooble, Seh?” A Liverpudlian Corporal called out to me, as I hoisted myself from the Nacelle, followed by Edith. I went to respond, but Edith, of course being my senior as a Captain, responded on my behalf. “Aye, she cut oot aroon’ 7,000 feet an’ we had tae glide her in. Hope we’re no causing any bother!”. The Corporal seemed taken aback by the Captain’s lack of condescending tone. “We’ll ‘ave ‘er fixed up right away, seh. I’ll let the Adjutant know yer’ here”. He responded, before gesturing to the other Ack-Emmas to wheel the machine in. As he scampered off, Edith called after him “Call St. Omer - Tell ‘em that Captain Edith and Sergeant Campbell are safely down!”. The corporal waved a hand in acknowledgement.
We lunched with a Captain Ellicott in the Officers’ mess - a rare luxury for me - as Edith nattered away about matters and grievances that occur above my station, before a sheepish knock on the door announced the reappearance of our Scouse Ack-Emma. Poking his head through the door, he spoke: “Seh, your machine is ready t’ go”. Edith beamed. “Why, thank ye, Corporal! Well, we’ll no take up any mair o’ yir time. Thank ye for the lunch!”. And with that, we were promptly off and back into A6338, and within minutes we were back up in the air and heading back to St. Omer. Upon our return, our chief mechanic, a rather cynical fellow, insisted that our bus remain grounded until the next day while he doubly-inspected the work of the 15 Squadron mechanics.
On the morning of the 18th I was pleased to see that ‘B’ flight wasn’t scheduled to go up until quarter-to-three. With the whole day free, Jacky-Boy and I went on an excursion to St. Omer by car (with an unfortunate Ack-Emma conscripted as a chauffeur). I found it to be a beautiful city, yet untouched by the creeping hell of war only a few miles East. Tall, white houses lined the streets, and a Churchyard by a bridge crossing a small stream was a particularly pleasant sight. The people seemed quiet, reserved. Probably hoping the war wouldn’t decimate their homes.
We made our way to a quaint little Cafe - the Vincent - and stepped inside, where we were met with an ocean of green RFC Uniforms. Aha! So we had found the correct locale! We took a seat and a petite, attractive waitress approached us. “Good Morning, Monsieurs!” She happily chirped. “Coffee?”. I nodded. “Please.” She poured the coffee, which tasted exquisite, and beamed at us before running off to fetch us both a menu. We looked through, and were surprised by the variety, given that a war was on! We eventually settled on the breakfast hastily pencilled in at the bottom, which simply read - “Anglais petit déjeuner ”, and were thrilled when a Full English, complete with fried sausages and tomatoes, appeared before us, brought over by the same waitress. “Ah, mon héroïne!” Jacky-Boy explained, and attempted to put an arm around her waist, which was batted away at a speed to rival our Fees. She laughed, backing away from my eager colleague, and spread her arms out. “Monsieur, do you not see all these Aviateurs? You’ll have to do better than them all!” she chuckled, before winking and striding away. The pilots around us chuckled, before going back to their individual conversations.
“Oh, she is delightful,” Jacky-Boy said, grinning at me, and I laughed and shrugged. “True, but it is as the young Mademoiselle says - she has her share of suitors already, clearly!”. Jacky-Boy’s eyes glinted. “No match for me, dear boy. You’ll see”. I laughed again. “Just don’t go into a spin, Jacky-Boy!”. “Whyever not? She has plenty of rudder to kick, I’ll get out of it juuuust fine”. I choked on my coffee.
We made it back with an hour to spare before ‘B’ Flight’s sortie, and I decided to write a quick letter home, detailing my arrival at France and my first experience of the lines and an unintended engine failure. At half-past two, Edith found me and we donned our flying gear. Edith handed me a tub of foul-smelling paste. “Here, boyo, get this oan yer face. It’s whale grease- it keeps the cold awa’ “. Grimacing at the odour, I heeded the Captain’s order.
Laughing merrily at my screwed-up face, Edith slapped me on the back with a force that sent me a step forward. “Ach, ye’ll get used tae the smell in no time at all!”. Miserably I reflected on my own chances with the young waitress if I were to continue wearing the whale grease, as we boarded old A6338.
Our briefing was nice and simple - local, too. We were to make a quick sweep over Boisdinghem, only about 10 miles West of us, before returning to land. To me, it seemed rather like a waste of fuel. Why would we be at any risk so far behind the lines? But, the Major had deemed it necessary, and so up we went in our three F.E.2s. Anyway, the sky was beautifully clear and the wind was low - a perfect flying day!
We happily cruised along for a while near St. Omer, when suddenly I noticed that Edith was staring intently upwards and to the right. I followed his gaze, but saw nothing. Focusing my eyes, I stared into the blue, and picked up three specks. One was far larger than the others, which appeared to be mono-wing designs. A B.E.2 being escorted by two Morane-Saulnier monoplanes. Curious - I was under the impression that only the French used those monoplanes! My interest quickly faded, and I turned back to watch Cpt. Graves’ machine. Ahead of me, Edith seemed agitated and, to my surprise, he begun to ready his Lewis gun. What the devil had gotten into him?
We completed our patrol, and after we landed Edith jumped down from the Nacelle grinning ear-to-ear. “Ha! Guess they Huns didnae fancy it, eh?” he boomed, and I looked at him, puzzled. “Huns? What huns?”. “Och, the Fokkers that went over us!” he retorted, and I gasped. Of course! No, the RFC didn’t have Morane scouts - but they looked just like Eindeckers! And the B.E - why, it must have been an Aviatik!
The 19th begun similarly to the previous day - no sortie until 3PM, plenty of time to visit the the Vincent Cafe, and its alluring waitress. It was less crowded this time, but still peppered by RFC types. As expected, the waitress appeared. “Hello again, Monsieur. Coffee?” I nodded, smiling. “Your eager friend is not with you today,” she stated, as she poured the coffee. “No, he’s out flying this morning”. I replied, and she sighed. “Yes, the mornings can be lonely in here” she replied, and I looked up. Absentmindedly I let slip the response of “Ah, but pretty girls like you don’t ever really get lonely”. “Quoi?” she exclaimed, and leaned back. I went red. “Oh, I, erm, my apologies”. With one hand on her hip, she cocked her head to the side and smirked at me. “You Aviateurs are all so forward!”. I laughed nervously. “A slip of the tongue. Not my intent. Why, I don’t even know your name yet!”. The corners of her mouth flicked upwards. “Jeanne”. I downed my coffee in one go. “Graham”. She extended a hand, which I shook. “Well, Graham, it is a pleasure. Your Coffee is finished - would you like more?”. I paused. “Well, actually, do you happen to have any teas here?” her eyebrow raised in amusement. “Huh. Well, I shall have a look”.
After Jeanne had fished out an old tin of green tea, and I had enjoyed a cup with my breakfast, I made my way back to St. Omer aerodrome in plenty of time for our sortie. Edith appeared, and nodded to me. “Ah, afternoon, Graham. Oot on the Toon again? Fin’ yersel’ a girl there?” he teased, and for the second time I went red. “No,” I lied. “Aye well, forget her because we’ve to look after an observation balloon today. The Hun have been sending Fokkers over te have a crack at it all morning”.
And so, Three O’Clock came around and we boarded our machines, lifting into the sky. Graves led us over St. Omer, where we began to climb. Our balloon was over Bethune, in sector FB6155 - not too far to go. Along the way I listened carefully to my engines, and kept my eyes peeled for huns behind our lines.
Over the mud, the RPM of A6338 begun to drop, and I feared that the temperamental old girl would cut out on us again. Fortunately, she stayed in the air this time. I now see what the Ack-Emma at the Depot meant! As we circled South-West the sun hit our eyes. Squinting, I stared into the light and made out the silhouettes of two machines, coming our way from the English lines. As I stared, I took in the details of their silhouette. Ahead of me, Edith stared also. Squinting, I begun to think that….yes! Aviatiks! I tried to signal Graves, then Reid, but their engines were obscuring their view of me, so I tapped Edith on the shoulder, and pointed. All the laughter gone from his face, and looking scarily serious, he nodded to me. So, it was settled. I begun to climb up to meet the Hun. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Graves and Reid doing the same. We approached the Huns from their front, and without any hesitation Edith fired a quick burst at them. Alarmed, the Huns wavered in the air, before deciding to continue straight over their heads. I followed from below, but Edith’s gun couldn’t get high enough to reach them. Not the front gun, at least…
I levelled out, and begun to overtake the two Aviatiks. Seeing my plan, Edith immediately jumped up and charged the rear-facing Lewis, pointing it upwards in anticipation. I grinned as he started firing up at the Huns, but the top wing obscured my view of the action. I drifted off-course and Edith waved me left, so I turned in to the Aviatiks once more and this time we approached from behind. Edith really let the trailing Hun have it this time, and I let out a cheer as it’s lower Starboard wing broke away! But, the tough German machine merely wobbled, and kept flying. At that point I strayed too close and a hail of gunfire suddenly tore through our machine. In shock, I peeled away, but Edith waved us back on. Steeling my nerves, I continued to chase the wounded Aviatik - we were now getting dangerously close to the Hun lines.
This time, I approached below the tail of the Hun, putting his tail between his observer and us. Edith took aim and fired upwards again, into the fuselage. As we watched, a thin snake-tongue appeared at the side of the aeroplane. I blinked, and looked again...yes, still there! As I watched, the tongue grew, and before my very eyes the Aviatik was suddenly engulfed in flames. Listing away to the side, it fell straight down. It was a terrible sight, and I felt perfectly sick at the thought of the Huns in the machine, burning as they fell. Edith was the man with the gun - he must have felt even worse. We didn’t think of the poor old Hun for long - we had drifted over the lines, and overstayed our welcome, and now Archie was hammering away around us. It was my first time being archied, and it was terrifying. As we flew I could hear the whistle and see the white-hot streams of shrapnel coursing past, and the aeroplane shook with every near-miss. One particularly close burst sent us several feet upwards. Edith gripped the sides of the Nacelle with both hands as we made a desperate run back towards our own lines.
Eventually, the hellish Flak subsided, and we gratefully drifted across the lines. I looked out to the wings, and saw several holes through them from the Aviatik’s return fire, as well as a snapped spar in the upper Port wing. Fearing that the aeroplane may break apart under stress, I made the decision to land at the first English aerodrome I saw. Embarrassingly, we ended up putting in at Hesdigneul again, and we were greeted by our Scouse friend, who whistled as he looked at the bullet holes in our machine. “Busy day, Seh?” he remarked, and the pair of us started laughing like idiots.
Needless to say, the Major was not impressed with us, and coldly ordered us to make our reports, ignoring our claim of an Aviatik sent down in flames.
That night, we had an almighty binge in the mess.
1) A6638 was one of the original FE2sin service with No. 20 Squadron.
2) As written, when No.20 arrived at St. Omer, their supplies, which were travelling by road, along with 99(!) NCOs, was stuck behind them due to fuel issues and overcrowded roads!
3) In the town of St. Omer there was a real Vincent cafe, with a real 'Jeanne', who was adored by RFC personnel for her fantastic coffee! Although, our Jeanne has received a little bit of the Hollywulfe treatment
Additional Note: Regrettably, it seems that WOFF hasn't saved any of the screenshots I took during my sorties. Sorry
Hasse, Julius seems like someone I would like. Too bad we will have to try and kill each other if we meet over the lines.
Carrik, Nigel seems to be doing well.
Fullofit, Your stories are breathing life into Gaston.
Lou, Congratulations on the confirmed victory! Also, its good you survived that last encounter to enjoy it a while longer.
Lt. Mark Jericho Auchell Aerodrome Jan. 20, 1916
Jericho got his wish to meet the enemy. He and Whorton had done a few Arty spotting missions and a bombing mission of the front lines West of Lille over the last few days. They had been given a hardy "Excellent work!" for the bombing mission. All had been a walk in the park with fair weather.
On the 18th they were to bomb the front sector south of Dicksmuide. They had two Nieuports as escorts. The wind was throwing the machines all over the sky but other than that the flight was like the others. After dropping their eggs and turning for home Jericho felt a rap on his head, the signal for "enemy near". his blood was up instantly! He stayed in close formation waiting for another signal from Whorton and trying to see anything behind, which was almost impossible. He did catch a glimpse of a Nieuport chasing one the Hun Fokkers but that was it. After five minutes of suspense which seemed like hours Whorton gave the signal for all clear. He told Jericho later that the fight had been inconclusive.
On the 19th they were on a Recon mission NW of Monchy. It was rain and snow on takeoff but had cleared a little over the front. Nearing the patrol area Jericho could see 3, then four specks ahead at their altitude. Even though he had never really seen machines in combat, it was obvious that's what was happening ahead. He reached back and signaled to Whorton. As they neared the fight Jericho could see it was to BE's and two Fokkers. As they drew close one of the BE's broke for home with the Fokker close behind. They passed under Jericho about a 100' below. Jericho saw the German pilot look up at them as they went under! At that moment he heard Whorton fire a long burst as the Fokker cleared their tail. Jericho saw the Fokker peel off and turn NE. He was sure the BE pilot was grateful. He saw the other BE headed home with no enemy in sight. He scanned the sky a second time but it was clear so the 3 machines continued with their Recon work. Jericho was tense now, with his eyes continuously scanning the sky.
Jericho had almost relaxed when Whorton slapped him on his right shoulder which was the signal for a slow climbing right turn. Jericho nearly jumped out of his seat at the signal. He instantly obeyed the Captain's instruction and stealing a glance back saw a Fokker below climbing to meet them. At that moment Whorton gave him a whole drum from his Lewis! The Fokker turned tail with the onslaught, and Whorton gave him the "all clear."
Alford, the flight leader, decided they had had enough excitement for the day and signaled return to base so they all turned northwest. Jericho looked around and could not find No. 3, Dickens. Looking all around he spotted him below and behind. "All safe" he thought to himself. When he looked back again to check on Dickens he was startled to see a Fokker on his tail closing fast. His mind was racing as he calculated what to do and on instinct dove on the Fokker. His action caught Whorton by surprise and he had to grab the sides of the cockpit for support. As Jericho maneuvered to give Whorton a shot, the Fokker peeled away and headed east. As they pulled up beside the other Morane, Dickens and his observer gave a hardy wave. Jericho could see the bullet holes in the fuselage. He waved back and thought to himself, "hope you can return the favor one day Hoss!"
When they landed back at Auchell, Whorton jumped from the machine and turned to Jericho. "Wonderful bit of flying Lt.! You gave me a perfect angle on that Hun! I saw my bullets hit him by God! Wonderful flying, just wonderful!"
Jericho was stunned. That was the first time the Captain had given him a compliment! "Thank you Sir!' Jericho replied.
Dickens and his observer walked up with grins bigger than sunlight. "We owe you one Yank! You sure saved our beacon today old man! How about a drink on us?"
Jericho shook their hands. "I'm sure you would have done the same for me Hoss. No disrespect but I'll pass on the drink, but, If they have any belly wash on, I'll sure have that."
Dickens looked puzzled. "Belly what?" he asked.
"Belly wash! You know, Coffee!"
"It will be my pleasure" Dickens replied.
Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear or a fool from either end. BOC Member since....I can't remember!
#4458094 - 01/20/1906:40 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
MFair, that was an exciting read! With flying like that, Jericho is going to be an ace in no time. It also looks like most had drawn first blood already. Meanwhile Gaston still hasn’t even seen a single Fokker. Hopefully it’ll stay like that for a while.
"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."
#4458109 - 01/20/1909:37 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
I've been immersed in two different rounds of labour negotiations, so today has been catch-up day, thanks to a blizzard that kept me inside all day. The writing we're seeing in this campaign is really inspiring. I hope you all find this bit of madness binds you to your pilot so tightly that your reaction to virtual combat has the hint of reality -- hence the "deep immersion" title of the campaign.
Maeran, some great shots of LaGorgue. Your description of the place and its initial atmosphere at this part of the war is really good. Wulfe, you continue to impress. I'm glad to see 20 Sqn safely in St-Omer. And great job picking up on the Cafe Vincent and the lovely Jeanne, heroine of many a memoir. I remember reading about her somewhere. Keep your hands off her, though. I saw her first! We're expected some great stuff from those DH2s.
Fullofit, I feel like Gaston is becoming an old friend. The tale of Reille's demise was a shock. 77_Scout: once again, we're thankful Aleck made it back safely. Ace, Drongo is getting closer to his RFC career -- can't wait to see him get his wings. Hasse, you have given us a real sense of who Julius is. I expect some great things from the boy!
Lou, hats off to you for the campaign's first confirmed victory. Your Morane is becoming a bit of a Hun magnet, so please be careful. Same to you, Carrick. Being attacked by several Fokkers is not fun when you're in a BE2.
Anyway, here's the latest from Jim Collins...
An Airman’s Odyssey – by James Arthur Collins Part Eleven: In which I encounter a skittish Fokker, an intransigent Gnome, and a connoisseur of Canadian whiskey
The first week at Auchel passed quickly. No 3 Squadron is devoted to spotting for the guns and, on occasion, photographing the Hun lines, and every day I become a little more at ease with our duties. Major Harvey-Kelly, as our Officer Commanding, is not really supposed to fly over the lines, but he explained to me in the mess that “If I see Huns to the east of my position, I can’t be properly over the lines yet.” His logic would extend the lines to Berlin. Still, it is first-rate to have a commander who leads from the front like the Major. I am told that Major Harvey-Kelly never flies without a potato in his coat pocket. It’s there in case he is shot down, he has said. He plans to use it to bribe the Huns into treating him well.
My first experience with ranging for the guns was on the 15th, when I flew with Russel (whom we call “One-ell”) down to La Basée, just north of Lens. I flew with the Major on one side and Sergeant Bayetto on the other and felt quite safe the whole while.
Spotting is great sport, and as the operation of the wireless set falls to the pilot in a Morane, it is very satisfying. The Parasol allows a wonderful field of vision, and my first task was to find the target. East of La Bassée stood a partially-destroyed enclosed farm in which the Hun had established a battery of field guns. I paid out the antenna wire and made contact. Then I confirmed the location and transmitted the location using the coding on my squared map of the area. We were supporting a siege battery – heavy guns. The first round landed short and off-line right. The drill was to correct the line first. I tapped away. It took two rounds to get the shells on line, and two more to bracket the target. I halved the correction and sent one more transmission. The next round sent up a cloud of red dust from the farm’s roof tiles. I sent “OK” and enjoyed the spectacle as our guns removed the Hun battery from God’s creation. And so we returned for tea and toast.
Russel, my observer, and I were flying alongside Lieutenant Lillywhite and Sergeant McCudden on 17 January 1916. Lillywhite had been a flying instructor at Hendon and had flown in Egypt. He was commissioned from the ranks and had been with the squadron for several months. Sgt McCudden was an interesting man. He’d joined the RFC well before the war as a mechanic and was considered the best we had. He had served with 3 Squadron throughout the early days on the war and the 1914 retreat. But of late he was in the air as an observer more than in the shops, and was highly valued by the officers. He’d been recommended for flying training and expected his travel papers any day.
We spotted two Hun two-seaters. They flew rather close to us before we saw each other. I gave chase for five minutes, following them east over the lines. “One-ell” fired a few bursts at long range, but the hostile machines dived away.
The next day was my first real taste of war fighting in the air. Sergeant Bayetto’s machine and mine were to escort Lillywhite and McCudden on a spotting show near Ypres. We were approaching the lines south of that city when I felt a shove on my shoulder. I looked back at Russel and immediately saw the thin outline of a Fokker monoplane diving on us and only a couple of hundred yards away. Russel fired at the machine as I turned to our right and dived slightly to throw Fritz off his aim. The yellow Hunnish machine passed over us and dived away to the northeast. He quickly headed towards his own side of the lines. I could see Bayetto and Lillywhite being assailed by another Fokker about a mile to the east and I headed in their direction. Their Hun disappeared.
Back at Auchel we found a single bullet hole in the right side of our plane, near the wingtip.
Swanson bagged a Hun on the 17th! It took a day for the confirmation to come in, but it did at last. We had quite a binge that night. The Major is taken aback somewhat at our two Americans’ reluctance to drink. Swanson is not quite the Puritan that our cowboy, Jericho, is but he made a single whiskey and soda last the better part of two hours. I’ll have to take the boys on as a project, I’m thinking. You can never fully trust a man with no public vices.
On 19 January I had another new experience. We were one of three machines escorting Major Harvey-Kelly to the lines west of Lens, where he was photographing the enemy defences. We had scarcely approached the front when the Gnome began making a hellish noise and splattering oil on my windscreen. I switched off and headed west, picking my way between heavy clouds that were dropping a cold drizzle on the sodden trenches below. I had bags of altitude and picked out a nice straight stretch of road south of Bethune to put the machine down.
"I switched off and headed west..."
Bethune, by the way, is a wonderful spot to visit. Swany and Jericho and I have gone into town several times. There are at least a dozen shops where one can find the most excellent pastries, but by far the most popular is a bakery and café called “Café du Globe.” Jericho may not be an accomplished drinker, but in the Globe I have seen the man devour a dozen fancy pastries and drink an entire pot of tea at a sitting. I regret that we are not hut-mates, but my American chums live in a fine wooden hut at the field while I am billeting in the town a few hundred yards away. Still, we get together nearly every night in the mess.
The Grand Place in Béthune, 1914. The Café du Globe can be seen in the background.
On 20 January we flew an uneventful reconnaissance. The highlight of the day came at lunch, when letters from Mum and Dorothy arrived, along with my long-awaited cases of Collins’ Yukon Gold and Berry Brothers’ Ginger Cognac! The Major has condemned the former as “vile rotgut fit only for coolies and Canadians.” The others seem to appreciate its fine nose and warming effect, albeit in alarming quantities. The Ginger, however, has been well received and is hoarded away for special occasions.
 According to Maurice Baring, Maj. Harvey-Kelly also carried a reel of cotton (spool of thread to those in N. America) for the same purpose.
 Robert John Lillywhite came from a proud cricketing family. His great-uncle William invented round-arm bowling, a cousin James represented Sussex and captained England in the inaugural Test of 1876-77. He joined the Royal Navy but was released on medical grounds. He then took his RAeC ticket and instructed at Hendon, both with the Grahame-White school. Enlisting in the RFC in August 1914, he served in Egypt and then in France with 3 Squadron. Injured in a motorcycle accident, he returned to England and was an inspector of RFC aerodromes. In September 1915 he was commissioned and later returned to duty in France.
 The Globe was apparently quite an elegant little place with a piano player. Reserved for officers, it was a favourite of the Prince of Wales and of the poet and historical novelist Robert Graves. The Prince, the future and short-lived Edward VIII, visited the front in late 1915. Graves was an officer in the 3rd Bn, Royal Welch Fusiliers.