Raine - Glad to see Collins up an at 'em again! MFair - gave me a bloody scare there! Glad the R.F.C's resident cowboy is still kicking. Carrick - Best of luck with your new man! Good to see another French pilot over the front. Scout - Thank god for escorts, eh? Hope you get a scout of your own soon! Fullofit - I must admit - that crate of yours makes me jealous! Hopefully the Major doesnt have you using it for ground attack too much
Sgt. Graham A. Campbell No. 20 Squadron R.F.C, Clairmarais Aerodrome, France.
March 9th, 1916 (Continued).
After we had had our morning cup of coffee, Jimmy Reynard pulled out his lucky charm - the deck of cards we passed our nights with, playing blackjack. It was a quaint deck - red-backed, save for four of the cards, which had become lost. Jimmy had replaced them with cards from a blue-backed deck, and after many nights of card-playing, both Switch-Off and I knew that the man holding a blue card would have either the Queen of Spades, Nine of Clubs, Ten of Hearts, or the Two of Hearts.
“Fancy a game afore briefing, lads?” he asked us, and I grinned, sitting opposite him. Excitedly, Switch-Off came bounding over, pulling up a third chair. Jimmy went to deal, but then paused to glance over at McHarg, “No joining us, pal?” he asked, and the quiet Lieutenant peered at us. “Oh, well. I didn’t know you were offering”. Jimmy raised an eyebrow. “Did’ye no hear me? Yir one of us noo - of course ye can join us!”. McHarg smiled faintly. “Well, then,” he stated, and came over. As it turns out, we had not gotten another young and inexperienced card player, and even with our colour-coded advantage McHarg was soon collecting our excess war salaries. After the third win, Jimmy grunted in annoyance. “Dammit, yer’ no half bad at cards! How come yir so guid?” he demanded, and McHarg smirked. “Ah. Well, dear boy, I used to be a dealer at Leicester Square before the war. As for the how, well, I’m afraid that’s a trade secret”. He winked. Reynard chuckled softly. “Aye? Well, in that case, forget what a said about joining us!”. McHarg grinned.
Time was up, and so together we marched from our Billett to the aerodrome, arriving five minutes early to briefing. Sharing cigarettes, we waited for the arrival of our fellow pilots before stepping into the familiar gazebo and taking our usual place - to the left of the back row of chairs. In front of us, the Major silently counted the heads in the room, and begun giving the flights their assignments. I was put on the morning Reconnaissance patrol to Fricourt, alongside Graves, Reid, Normie, Edwards and Switch-Off. Jimmy was off to Diksmuide With ‘A’ flight.
We stepped out into the morning chill, and I tapped Jimmy on the back. “You just be careful out there, pal. Diksmuide is a hot shop”. I said, and he smiled as he wrapped his flying scarf around his neck. “Ach, away. A'm the very picture of' careful!”. I reluctantly nodded, said a quick “Good Luck” to ‘A’ flight, and made for the hangar to retrieve my charm from 6333, as work on my own bus had been completed. Restoring the pouch of tea to its hook on my instrument panel, I checked the tautness of the cables and the mounts of the Lewis.
Cpl. Weston appeared, a cup of tea in his hand, with an offended look on his face. “Wot - no faith, Ser?”. I shot him a glance. “Oh, it’s not that, Weston. It’s just, me and the old girl have seen a fair amount together. I like to look after her myself”. The Corporal nodded. “Good habit, that. Workin' on the buses, I can tell yer, I wouldn’t be caught dead in -” he stopped himself short, looking at me apologetically. I just smiled. “Well, you’re a smarter man than I, then” I joked, and the stout Ack-Emma relaxed.
The time for our patrol came about, and we made our way to our machines. Meeting Rickard on the field, I gave him a pat on the shoulder. “Righty-ho,” I said, climbing into the cockpit, “it should be an easy one today”. Rickard leaned on the side of the nacelle, lighting a cigarette. “I’m almost sad! It was quite the rush, yesterday!” he exclaimed, a sharp-toothed grin flashing across his face. My, I thought, he’s keen! Good thing I’m in control of the bus. Finishing his cigarette, he made to climb into the nacelle when two Lewis drums spilled out of his jacket. “Bugger!” he shouted, as he scrambled to retrieve the ammunition, tossing them into the Nacelle and clambering in after them, before restoring them to their position in the jacket. He looked over at me, and I simply raised my eyebrows at him. He shrugged. “Don’t want to run out in a scrap again!”. Testing the control surfaces, I let out a single staccato laugh. “Ha! Quite right”.
Our props were swung, and our engines roared into life. Following Graves and Reid, we lifted again into the sky as Rickard watched the ground below us drop further away. Behind me, Switch-Off’s blood red scarf contrasted stunningly against the snow. He gave me a thumbs up, and I nodded, turning back to face forwards again. Fighting against the cold, we climbed to 6,500 feet and turned South. After a gruelling flight we got out over the lines, but fortunately the show was as quiet as we’d hoped, and we were soon headed back home.
‘A’ ran into a pair of Fokkers at Diksmuide, one of which was the machine we had started to refer to as 'The Green Hun, or, more affectionately, ‘Greeny’, on account of his machine's unusual olive drab colour - it was the same machine that had shot me about before, and who had gotten Ellis through the arm. We had quickly recognised this Hun’s skill, and in-between our evening songs in the mess, we had begun to speculate about who Greeny was. We tensed as names such as Immelmann and Boelcke were uttered.
March 11th, 1916.
On the 10th, ‘B’ flight was sent on an O.P. over the lines between Bethune and Loos. Due to our recent losses, the Major has instructed us to double the number of machines sent out together. With Captain Tepes as our flight lead, Normie, Graves, Reid, Switch-Off and myself took off and headed East.
The weather soured as we reached the lines, the clouds obscuring the skies over the front. I grimaced as we broke through the haze, trying to catch a glimpse through breaks in the clouds of any lurking Fokkers. However, no Huns appeared, and after a bleak and uneventful patrol we turned back for home. Upon our return, we discovered that another new Fee had been brought in. According to Cpl. Weston, it was a dud - written off from some other Fee squadron after being brought down in a scrap (its occupants being badly wounded and sent home), but inexplicably repaired at the aircraft depot and kept in reserve. I decided to inspect the machine for myself. The upper set of wings had been replaced, and mismatched patches of un-doped linen and PC-10 gave it a most unusual look. In a strange way, I found the new bus charming. Perhaps I have developed a fondness for the duds, as 6338 has earned a certain reputation in the squadron - certainly, when I was wounded in the C.C.S, no pilot flew her.
Being free for the rest of the day, I headed to the Major’s office and requested to test-fly the new machine. With a raised eyebrow, he agreed, and so I went to the aircraft hangar, asking the Ack-Emmas to ready her for flight. Trying to contain their laughter, they wheeled the frankenstein-machine out onto the airfield, at which point I jumped in, alone, and went up. To my surprise, the machine was fairly sturdy in the air, and the engine went beautifully. Our frankenstein appeared to be a hidden gem! I decided I would keep this knowledge to myself, lest someone take her for themselves! I made a smooth three-point landing, and headed towards the mess for a cup of tea.
The next day, No. 20 was given some much-needed rest. The only orders we had for the day were test flights, with the rest of the day free for personal recreation. Normie, Graves, Reid and I made our flights, and headed to St. Omer for lunch. Reid suggested the Vincent, to which we agreed. As we walked in, I saw Jeanne at the far end of the Cafe. She turned to face us, then reddened, quickly dropping her eyes when she recognised me. At a solitary table in the corner I spotted Switch-Off, who to my surprise seemed to be attempting to hide behind a propped-up menu. I went over to join him. “Afternoon, Switchy!” I cheerily greeted him, to which he blurted out “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t be here!”. I looked at him, astonished. “What…?” I started, and Switch-Off dropped his tone to a hushed low tone. “I know what Jeanne did to Jacky, and it’s wrong, but she’s so nice to me, and…” I held up a hand to stop him. “Raymond, it’s okay. Nobody will think worse of you for coming to see Jeanne”. He reddened, dropping his head, in a startlingly similar manner to Jeanne. “I only wish I was as forgiving as you…” I muttered, as Jeanne sheepishly scuttled up to our table.
“C...Coffee?” she asked me, misery failing to disguise itself in her voice. “Please,” I responded. She nodded briefly and bolted towards the back of the Cafe again, apparently anxious to escape my presence. Switch-Off watched her go, before turning to me. “I visited her after you told her about Jacky. She can’t stand the guilt, Campbell”. I slowly nodded, becoming lost in thought. “I suppose…” for one instant, I became overcome with grief, and felt tears well in my eyes. However, in the same second I composed myself, straightening my face once more. “I suppose she never assumed he might die. And, perhaps, it was only Jacky who thought their situation was...different”.
Jeanne returned with my coffee, laying it down on the table. She turned to leave, but before she walked away, her back turned to me, she muttered the words “I’m sorry. I wish I could tell him”.
We finished our lunch and paid, and after saying a quiet goodbye and sharing an embrace with Jeanne Switch-Off joined us in returning to Clairmarais. As we rounded the treeline on the dirt path leading to the hangars, we picked up the sound of terrified screaming, and men shouting. We looked at each other and immediately tore into a sprint, coming round the edge of the hangar, before stopping dead in our tracks. Ahead of us was a saddening scene - we watched in quiet sympathy as five Ack-Emmas, accompanied by Jimmy Reynard, fought Ackart to the ground, wrestling the Webeley he had in his hand away from him. As they took the gun, he begun to shriek the word “No!” on repeat, in a blood curdling cry of pure horror. Reynard caught our gaze, and met it, a look of exasperation on his face. He was pale white, the Webeley resting in his hand. Slowly, he looked down at the pistol, before suddenly dropping it and recoiling as if it had seared his skin, staring at it lying in the mud for a few moments before storming away behind the aircraft hangars.
Graves and I chased after him, finding him squatting at the back of the hangar, a cigarette in his trembling hand. “Just what the hell was that?” Graves asked in a shaky voice, at which point Reynard slowly looked up. “The man’s lost the plot...he was trying to blow his ain heid aff...kept screaming about They're going to get me, They're going to get me…I got a hold of his arm just afore he could pull the trigger, but he fought me aff like a wild animal...that’s when the Ack-Emmas came in”. The Scotsman took a long drag of his cigarette, and slowly got to his feet. “‘I need a bloody drink”.
Ackart had disappeared in the back of a Bedford bound for Calais by nightfall. I cannot say if we will ever see him again.
I've just spent a most enjoyable hour catching up with everyone's adventures here.
Lederhosen, best of luck to Willi in his new AO. He is flying one of my favorite German two-seaters. Nice livery too.
Harry, a fine journal entry. And it is good your man is honing his map reading skills, he will need them.
Wulfe, heavy stuff Sir, and very well written. War takes its toll in so many ways. Congrats on Graham's double confirmation, well done.
Fullofit, good to see that Gaston is still enjoying some wonderful weather. As to sending out scout planes to strafe rail yards, well, who knows what the brass hats are thinking when they plan such folly.
Scout, Aleck and his crew continue to harass the enemy at Loos, eh? Excellent. Keep Fritz busy rebuilding and he can't spend as much time fighting.
MFair, you really had me worried. Very glad to learn that Jericho survived the whole affair with little more than a gash to his scalp. Hopefully his hair will fill back in, wouldn't want a bald spot to spoil the fellow's rugged good looks.
Carrick, condolences on the loss of Nigel. Here's hoping Emile has a longer run. Love that screenshot over the Channel.
Raine, great news that James in now back in the skies. Quite the scar he is going to be left with, sure to be a conversation starter. And good on Sgt. Wilson on becoming a full-fledged observer.
Hasse, another superb episode on Julius, and good to know that his injuries were fairly light. I hope he won't have to wait too long to get into the Eindecker. He should do very well with it.
2nd Lt. Swanson and Captain Craig have had five days of some very good flying weather, with sorties ranging from the totally uneventful to another near ender. In two of the previous days' outings they found themselves in go-rounds with a pair of Aviatiks in one, and with a lone Eindecker in another, resulting in two submitted OOC claims both of which were denied. Today however found the intrepid pair in a combat that each though, yet again, might be their last. It began while on a recce of the Hun lines down at Miraumont where Swany and Daniel were attacked by no less than three Eindeckers, all in olive green livery, (the first time either had seen this). The Brits had been flying in and out of large, expansive clouds at about 6,000' most of the way along, and after coming out from one particularly massive cloud the rest of the flight was gone from view. Swany continued on to the assigned patrol area, all the while looking for the other two planes of B Flight, but to no avail. Upon reaching the enemy lines at Miraumont Swanson and Craig began the recce.
The initial attack came out of the sun, from above and head-on, with two Hun bullets going directly through the windscreen of the British plane. Amazingly, this was the only damage done in the opening salvo. After this it all became a blur of twisting and turning and diving and climbing, with Swany pushing the Morane to the very limits of what it could do. All three enemy pilots seemed more than capable and the only saving grace given the King's airmen was that the Hun were actually jamming each other up as they tried for shots on their lone prey. The Captain was a true marvel with the Lewis gun as he kept switching up on the Hun attackers, taking shots at whatever the best target was at any given moment. As the fur-ball continued its swirl, lower and lower, towards No Man's Land, Swany kept edging the fight towards the west and over the British trenches. Suddenly, one of the Eindeckers flipped on its back and slammed into the dirt, kicking up a giant plume of debris. Craig had found the mark on that one. This caused one of the remaining Hun to turn tail and run back eastward towards more friendly skies. The third fellow however was having none of that and pressed his attack all the harder. He was sticking to the Morane like glue and Swany was running out of tricks, and altitude. With what little room he had left he dove to build up speed and when his pursuer was just about ready to deliver the coup de grâce Swany pulled the Morane up and over, dropping the right wing as he did so to open up a shot for the Captain. The maneuver worked and Daniel placed a deadly volley into the engine of the Eindecker. Flames began licking back along its cowl as a line of black smoke trailed behind the enemy plane. Brief moments later and it too slammed hard into the dirt. Lieutenant Swanson pointed his bus north-northwest and made the best time he could as he regained altitude along the way. He was never more glad to see Auchel and glide his faithful mount back to home and relative safety. Amazingly, neither man was injured, and their bus had but a handful of vents in the wing, along with the holed windscreen. Luck had been extremely kind to the lads from Number 3 Squadron.
Later that day, when the remaining patrols had returned, and the AARs and claims had been submitted, Swany invited his good friends Jim Collins and Mark Jericho to coffee and a nice lunch at La Ville d'Auchel Café, his treat. He figured they could all stand a break from the war, even if it was only for a bite to eat in town. Besides, he wanted to let them in on something he'd been up to. He'd been frequenting the small establishment two or three times a week for the last month or more, not only for the tasty fare but more so to practice his French, which the young pilot was becoming quite proficient at and which he now wanted to show off to his friends. The madame who ran the café, Georgette, had been personally helping Swany with the language, upwards of an hour or more at a time, for which the Lieutenant would leave an extra franc on the table. The woman, who was likely in her early-to-mid 30s, quite shapely, and rather attractive, had more than a tutorial interest in her student and she'd been attempting to make this known with her less-than-subtle signals. However Swany, who was very quick on the uptake when it came to a lot of things, was fairly oblivious when it came to the fairer sex, so Georgette's amorous intentions were going unnoticed. Unnoticed that is until he brought his friends to the café for lunch, both of whom quickly surmised what was going on and took no end of joy in informing their clueless chum of the situation. Swany turned beet red upon receiving Jim's and Mark's reconnoitering of the affair and quickly dismissed that such could possibly be the case. It was not the end of the discussion however, much as Swany may have wished it to be, and by the time lunch was finished he was regretting having ever brought Collins and Jericho along. Still, he was feeling rather good with the idea that Georgette fancied him, not that he'd act on it - well, probably wouldn't act on it. She was his senior by a good twelve to fifteen years after all. Still...
Trying to keep the advantage, what little there is.
One Hun down, one running away, one still pressing on.
The final defeat.
Glad to see home again.
#4465394 - 03/13/1905:54 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Thanks Harry, it was an intense one for sure. Really though, I think it can be to your advantage when several attackers come at you at once as they start tripping over each other trying to get at you. The bigger concern is having one of them run into you due to the close quarters fighting.
#4465432 - 03/13/1911:28 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Wulfe, your stories really are first rate! Excellent reading. Harry, I hope to see your pilot in action soon Carrick, you did good getting back in the saddle after your loss. Lou, your ability to attract the Huns is only matched by your ability to deal with them. Boy Howdy, that ‘‘twas close!
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!
#4465438 - 03/13/1911:48 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Wulfe, Hands off! This one's mine. Get your own! I'm surprised. I'd have thought Switch-Off would hate her the most, instead he's moving in. I'm glad Rickard realizes he's a poor shot. Hopefully the extra ammo won't weigh your crate too much. Harry, that's a cushy job you've got there. I bet you get the pick of the litter with the girls too. Lederhosen, thanks for the heads up. Now Gaston has to look out for Rolands! These are tough customers. Lou, what can I say? You better check if Swany isn't growing a rabbit's foot out of his behind. 3 of the Kaiser's finest against 1 Royal potato crate. Bloody March it is. Carrick, better to take it easy for now. (And pray they don't send you to Verdun) Hope I didn't miss anyone.
Light spring showers were washing away the memory of winter. Gaston pulled his coat collar higher trying to prevent the cold rain from dribbling down his back. By the time they were all airborne the shirt on his back felt already sodden. Their orders were to protect the ‘A’ flight on their bombing run to Martincourt aerodrome. The lone Nieuport 12 of Cpl. Mondeme was floating peacefully behind the ‘B’ flight. The same could not be said about Voscadeaux’s machine. Suddenly Gaston's engine started to spit oil on the windshield and he was forced to leave the formation.
Luckily this occurred as he was passing the aerodrome on the way to the first waypoint. While in a bank on the final leg of his approach the engine lost all power and Gaston had to glide the rest of the way down. The French pilot touched down just short of the airfield, rolling to a stop on the outskirts. When he stood up to disembark his sick mount, all the rain that up until now was pooling between his buttocks rushed down his legs and into his boots. Gaston later found out the mission was a failure, as none of the structures were significantly damaged. Hopefully they will have better luck next time.
"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."
#4465446 - 03/14/1912:16 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Fullofit, rain? Rain? We have a saying down here. Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining. No worries, I think I had the same phenomenon when I landed between the trenches. The pucker factor was way up.
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!
#4465449 - 03/14/1912:28 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Joined: May 2012 Posts: 3,498RAF_Louvert
BOC President; Pilot Extraordinaire; Humble Man
MFair, I believe you are correct about the rain Fullofit described in Gaston's latest episode. Swany also had a bit of that rain running down his leg after the encounter with those three Eindeckers. As to why the Hun keep going after my man repeatedly, I haven't a clue. I only know it doesn't seem fair.
#4465450 - 03/14/1912:52 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
HarryH, very much enjoying your man's journal - very interesting to have a Home Front perspective!
Lederhosen - now that's a nice crate...dangerous things, Rolands...
Bloody hell, Lou, Swany's a killing machine!! I can't wait to see him in a scout...
Fullofit - woah! If ever there was a good spot for your engine to cut out...
Sgt. Graham A. Campbell, No. 20 Squadron R.F.C, Clairmarais Aerodrome, France.
March 12th, 1916.
The winds tore about us, as 6338 was tossed around like a ragdoll. Being thrown sideways through a thick cloud, I became disoriented, all sense of direction leaving me. The wind begun to feel faster, more bitter, on my face - we were diving! Ahead of me, Rickard gripped the sides of the Nacelle tightly, looking back at me pale-faced. I pulled the stick hard into my stomach, and 6338 shuddered and groaned in protest as we finally broke through the cloud. Ahead of me, an F.E.2 fell in flames, sparks splintering away from the smoke before quietly fizzling out. Suddenly, Rickard cried out, pointing upwards.
My eyes turned in the direction he indicated, and I went cold. Above us wheeled a mass of Fokkers. Five, no, Seven, at least. On all sides they swarmed, and I saw the mad grins of anticipation on their pilots’ faces, smelled their bloodlust on the wind. Five came down at once, sending torrents of gunfire at us. Rickard tried to reply with the Lewis gun, but I watched in helpless terror as the right eye of his goggles exploded into glass shards and blood. His head jerked back sickeningly, and he slumped away into the Nacelle, out of sight. Feeling like I was choking, I swung the Fee back into the cloud. Hyperventilating, I tried to think of an escape route, a way out, anything….but my mind was blank. The aircraft nearly stalled as I lost my way in the cloud again - and then a realisation hit me. “That’s it!” I cried, and released the stick.
6338’s nose came up, and she lazily turned over into a spin. Through the bottom of the clouds I dropped, waiting until I had fallen about 1,000 feet to recover. The trick worked - at least, in part, and several of the Fokkers still wheeled above the clouds, angrily searching for me, but three of them had realised my deception and come down after me. Inexplicably, I heard machine-gun chatter once more from the Nacelle, and one Fokker burst into flames. “Pay attention, Cammie!” a familiar voice cried, and I swung my head forwards. In the front seat, Jacky-Boy relentlessly beat off our attackers with the Lewis gun, a look of fury on his face. Ahead of him I saw an Aviatik - startlingly familiar - with flames bursting from its cowling and consuming the pilot. For a moment everything was frozen in place, and I stared into the eyes of the terrified German observer, his face affixed in an eternal scream as, in unnaturally slow time, the smoke wrapped around him and claimed him, before the Aviatik’s nose pointed down.
I heard both Germans screaming in agony as their machine plummeted into oblivion, and in horror I realised it was my first victim - the one Edith and I had dispatched. Ahead of me, Jacky-Boy screamed out at me over the howling wind - “Break, Campbell! He’s going to get us!”. In dread, I looked behind us. Squarely on our tail was the dreaded Green Fokker, so close I could make out every feature of the pilot’s face - he looked at me in pity. Again came the cry, “He’s going to get us!!”. I watched the first flash of the Spandau as it barked into life, and saw the first sparks of flame licking out from my engine…
...Drenched in sweat, I bolted awake with a cry. At the writing-desk in our Billett, Jimmy Reynard swung around in surprise. “Graham?” he asked, as I looked around frantically, my eyes still wide with terror. My gaze fixed on his surprised face, and the realisation came to me. Letting out a deep sigh, I slumped back onto my bunk. “Whit’s wrang?” Jimmy asked. “Nothing. Just a dream” I responded, before lethargically swinging my legs out of bed and sitting upright.
After Jimmy, Switch-Off, McHarg and I had shared our cigarettes and had our morning coffee, we stepped out into the wintry morning, making our way down the dirt path towards the aerodrome, and the briefing room. ‘B’ flight was the unfortunate mob today - four of us were going to Fokkerland; We were to fly over Ypres on a reconnaissance sortie. Stepping back out onto the aerodrome, I met with my fellow ‘B’ pilots, Normie, Graves and Reid, and we headed to the mess to secure some breakfast - tinned bully beef and eggs bartered from a local farm, with tea of course. As we ate, Normie relayed his plans for the show. “Tweet has the most experience with the camera, so I want you flying the reconnaissance bus” he said to Reid, who nodded in agreement. “Campbell and Graves, you bracket the recon machine”. We were then joined by Kris Bristow and Ricard, who were laughing and joking among themselves as they sat down with us. Having covered our plan, our conversation took on a more casual tone, and we flitted away our morning swapping stories of encounters with young English ladies back home.
At 10 O’Clock we parted ways to prepare for the show. Rubbing whale grease on my face as Edith had taught me, I donned my long brown flying coat, tied my dirty green scarf around my neck, and pulled on my flying cap, before sliding into my fug-boots (which inevitably led to me tripping up and cursing, as it always did). Holding my gauntlets under my arm, I lit a cigarette and made for the aerodrome, where our machines were being wheeled out and checked-over by the Ack-Emmas. I met with Ricard and we boarded our machine - as we did so, the afterimage of my dream flashed in my head. Pushing it down, I checked my dashboard to ensure that my lucky charm was in place. It was.
Our propellers were swung, and four Beardmores awoke from their sleep, purring in earnest. Looking down the flight line, I watched the Very light soar into the sky, and a moment later Normie’s machine let out a growl and lurched forwards. The rest of us followed, and one-by-one we left the ground, before turning East and climbing into the inviting blue.
The winds were thankfully tame as we turned towards Ypres, and we kept good formation as we cruised while gently climbing. However, at around 5,000 feet the wind became more aggressive, and several times it caught under the tilted nose of my bus, nearly stalling the machine. Nonetheless, Graves and I kept on either side of Reid’s reconnaissance bus as we crossed over the top of Poperinghe, the mud laid out before us. As the ruined town came into sight, Rickart perked up in his cockpit, resting an arm on his Lewis and scanning the skies for enemy machines. I did the same, slanting my eyes as I watched the horizon.
To our delight, we found that the Ypres Archie gunners had apparently decided to take the day for themselves, as not a single shell burst troubled our work. After we had circled for ten minutes or so, as Tweet took photographs, I spotted a lone Aviatik flying towards Hunland from our own lines, listing from cloud to cloud and using the base of them as cover. It was a tempting target, but too far off to bother our flight. I watched the little white Aeroplane quietly sail across the lines for a moment, before diverting my attention back to the task at hand. After two more turns, Normie fired the washout signal, and we all turned for home, grateful for a quiet day’s work.
March 13th, 1916.
I arose early from a thankfully peaceful sleep and, accompanied by Switch-Off, headed to the mess to have an early breakfast before briefing. As we stepped into the mess, we noticed that a large group of airmen were gathered around Pearson, excitedly chatting among themselves. Walking over, I spotted Edith and placed a hand on his shoulder. “What’s this?” I asked, and he grinned. “Comic Cuts! Wait ‘til ye read this!” he exclaimed, and tapped Pearson on the back. “Pearson, show Graham!” he chirped excitedly, and a sheet of paper was thrust into my face. It was taken from the R.F.C. Communiques. One addition had been circled roughly in pencil. Taking the sheet, I read aloud: “Second Lieutenant Swanson and his Observer, Captain Craig, of No. 3 Squadron R.F.C, reportedly today triumphed over two Fokker Monoplanes while fighting alone at three-to-one odds. To date, Swanson has amassed five air victories, with these two Fokkers set to become his sixth and seventh, and is No. 3 Squadron’s Star Turn”.
I looked up from the sheet at Pearson. “3 Squadron? I thought they were on Parasols?”. Pearson broke into an ear-splitting grin. “They are! And this Swanson fellow has been knocking Fokkers out of the air like nobody’s business!”. My eyes widened, and I burst into laughter. “Fantastic!” I cried, picturing in my head the anemic Morane sending the terrifying Fokkers down in pieces. “The man needs a VC - his observer, too!” Tepes chimed in, which was met with whoops of approval from us all.
Switch-Off and I sat down and ate breakfast, before heading to briefing. As we sat down, the Major regarded us with a wary eye, before beginning to tell us our assignments. ‘B’ had an easy show today - a patrol of our own lines near Bethune. However, after listing off ‘C’ flight’s assignments, he continued to speak: “Campbell. Today you have a special assignment”. I looked up in surprise, as several pilots’ heads swung around to face me. “You are to head to the front-lines at Fricourt, alone, and scout for targets of opportunity. You are free to attack what you find”. My jaw dropped. A lone patrol? With Fokkers plaguing the skies?
Dazed, I stepped out of the briefing room. Switch-Off immediately came to my side, a nervous look on his face. “A lone patrol?” he asked me in a hushed tone, echoing my thoughts. I just looked at him. “Dammit, Campbell, you just be careful…”. I composed myself, for my young friend’s sake. “Oh, don’t worry about me, Switchy, I shan’t venture any further than our trenchlines”. Switch-Off attempted a smile.
Gearing up, I met Rickard on the aerodrome, and I was not surprised to learn that he shared the same apprehensions as me. “Just keep a bloody good lookout” I told him, as he clambered into the nacelle. I looked over my maps as the Ack-Emmas checked my machine over, then stared up at the position of the sun. It was still early - the sun was in the East. Dammit. After having my prop swung, I tapped Rickard on the shoulder. “Remember - a good lookout!”. He nodded, a serious look on his face. “Well then, nothing for it. Here we go” I muttered, and pushed the throttle forwards.
I climbed to 10,000 feet. I would take no chances. At the lines I turned for Loos, avoiding Ypres. From there, I decided to cruise down the lines towards Arras, scanning the horizon as my paranoia rose. Nothing made itself apparent until I turned back North, at which point I spotted two Aviatiks on high, being pestered by Archie. Rickard saw it too, and turned back to me. I looked at him firmly, and nodded.
The Aviatiks were coming towards us from above. This suited me well, I wanted to be under their tails. As they came overhead, I swung underneath them and positioned myself. Our strategy was the same as before - Rickard fired upwards as I stayed below the Aviatik’s line of fire. As he shot, the startled Aviatiks broke away in opposite directions. I pressed my attack on the rearmost machine, Rickard firing furiously at the Hun. Realising our tactic, the Hun rolled steeply to the left, the observer firing backwards at us, but another burst from Rickard smashed into them and we watched as the Hun went spiralling down out-of-control. Immediately I turned for the second Aviatik, which had turned tail for Hunland. I chased him over the lines towards Vimy, and we had nearly gotten close enough to attack when Rickard suddenly turned back, pointing intently away to our Two O’clock. I looked in the direction he had indicated, and to my horror I saw the shape of three Fokkers, almost upon us. I felt their murderous intent. I saw only one escape - upwards. The Fokkers were not quite at our level yet. We spiralled upwards in a climb, the Fokkers following suit. In dismay I realised that it was no good - the Fokkers were faster in the climb. I looked at Rickard, who stared back. In an instant, we understood that we would have to fight our way out.
Immediately I tightened my turn, and spiralled down, taking the Fokkers by surprise. Getting behind one, Rickard begun to whip the gun around, but to our horror the mount jammed, the Lewis refusing to point forwards. Cursing, I immediately dove for allied lines as Rickard yanked on the Lewis gun, trying to free the gun’s movement. Two of the Fokkers swung around to give chase, relentless in their pursuit. I reached our lines, hoping that the Fokkers would finally give up, but on they came, determined to kill us both. Suddenly, the forward Lewis gun jerked around, as an almighty tug from Rickard freed it. Scarcely believing the situation, I swung around again to face the Fokkers once more. Tracer flashed past us as I circled below them, and soon we were looping and rolling across the sky. Old 6338 manoeuvred magnificently as we danced with the two Huns, and soon I had gotten behind one. The second endeavoured to get behind me in turn, as I tried desperately to chase down his companion.
The first straightened out, and I realised his game - if I were to stop turning to fire at him, the second would have a free shot at me. I continued circling, now battling against my pursuer for the upper hand. Soon I realised the folly of our situation - as soon as we would get behind one Fokker, the other would get behind us. But then - salvation! One Fokker became to eager in the turn, spinning away and becoming stuck below the fight. With my tail finally clear, I was able to stick behind one of the brutes, at which point Rickard fired a burst at him, which clearly gave him the wind-up as he dove down for home. I dropped on the second Fokker, who upon seeing his comrade fleeing had also turned away, and dove below his tail. Rickard swung the Lewis around and pressed down on the trigger. The gun barked into life, but then abruptly fell silent. Looking confusedly at Rickard, my heart sank to see him wrestling with the charging handle. The gun had jammed! The Fokker began to spiral upwards, attempting to escape. Seeing my chance, I spun around and flew further into our lines. Over my shoulder, I watched the Fokker as he disappeared back into Hunland. Breathing a shaky sigh, I turned us for home.
That night in the mess, I recounted the story of my desperate lone battle against the two Fokkers, to the delight of my colleagues - save for Switch-Off, who was horrified at the tale. Jimmy offered to buy my drinks for the night. I informed the pilots that all three machines were green - it seems that 'Greeny' may be more than one artist, after all.
I think I'll leave the Fokker-fighting to Lou / Swany...
Wulfe, that one read like an adventure in "Ripping Yarns", and the dream sequence was haunting. Clever mention too of Swanson and his G/O in "Comic Cuts", well done, (and Swany is honored to have been called out). And what is going on with all these olive green Fokkers? Bargain priced paint perhaps.
Out of curiosity folks, how often are the rest of your pilots running into EA on their outings? With air activity on "light", "AI Never Backs Down" off, and "AI Enhanced Skill Levels" off, Swany still encounters nasty types in 3 out of 5 missions, and they are nearly always very aggressive in their attacks. Yes, my man has gone after targets intentionally, but that has only been on three occasions at this point. The rest of his fights have all been initiated by the enemy AI.
#4465498 - 03/14/1911:05 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Such brutal encounters your pilots are having! I'm happy to hear Jericho made it safely back. Lou, you're doing a stellar job against all those Einies! Doesn't seem fair at all, but c'est la guerre, eh?
Julius has yet to see so much enemy activity in his sector. Maybe WOFF handles the Fokker Scourge period by making Entente pilots have more combat encounters? I have no idea.
However, I have been actively avoiding air combat when flying the Aviatik. With Julius getting the Fokker now, that will of course change.
"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
#4465499 - 03/14/1911:10 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Joined: May 2012 Posts: 3,498RAF_Louvert
BOC President; Pilot Extraordinaire; Humble Man
I have seen my fair share of EA, but usually from a thankfully safe distance. Around Ypres the Fokkers seem to enjoy roaming around a lot more than further South. Typically, EA try to get out of dodge when they see us coming - perhaps they are less eager to attack Fees, when there are squadrons worth of Quirks and Parasols flying around
I'd say I spot an EA every 1 in 4 sorties, and get into a scrap maybe every 1 in 10 (oftentimes initiated by myself when I see a juicy Aviatik plodding along). A ratio I don't mind to be honest! Boring, but boring is good when the name of the game is survival!
On an unrelated note, I've had a lot of trouble with my observers being 'stuck' facing their gun to the leftmost position, even when they have a perfectly good target inches from the nose of the plane! Any ideas why that might be? I've noticed that when the observer becomes stuck like this, the rear gun still tracks targets. Perhaps it's something to do with there being two guns for one observer.
As for the Comic Cuts mention, I thought it would be nice way for the RFC boys to link their stories, even if they don't directly encounter each other! The No. 20 boys are certainly going to be looking for more news of the devil Morane pilot