Emile Benoit La Mont Sgt, N 26 St. Pol-sur-mer, AF Flanders. March 17, 1916.
Solo Patrol over the lines for Recon. Nearing the end when spotted an enemy Patrol at a lower altitude chose to attack. Zee Bosche stayed together as we made 3 passes under and beside them. My Ob got off 2 drums + a string of 11 shots. Damage unknown, but my machine took 2 hits in zee wing ripped fabric and cracked a rib where zee bullet did not go thru.
#4466025 - 03/17/1908:12 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Joined: Nov 2014 Posts: 3,696Fullofit
Dark clouds sprawled across the entire sky. Their colour ranged from dark grey, to beige, with brown and mauve in between. Gaston thought the tan canvas of their mounts was blending pretty well with these rain-laden clouds. He was leading a flight of four, escorting a duo of Nieuports 12 in the ‘A’ Flight en route to recce enemy front lines north of St. Mihiel salient. There was plenty of cloud cover over the target. Gaston followed the N12s and was thinking to himself that a flight of Eindeckers could be hiding in these clouds above them and none of them would be any wiser. He didn’t have the chance to finish his thought when two Fokkers jumped out of the brown cloud ahead of them. The good thing was that they looked just as startled by the sight of six French machines in front of them, as the French aviators were surprised at the sight of the duo of monoplanes coming out of the clouds. The improvised attack was uncoordinated by both sides, but the sheer numbers on the French side forced Germans to go on defensive. As the Boche leader flew by followed by his wingman, they were split by the French flight. The trio of Gaston's flight mates jumped on the lead Fokker jostling for position, while Gaston had the other one all to himself. Few turns later he was on his tail firing his Lewis. It only took a few burst and the Boche was spiraling down. Gaston knew the other Fokker is being taken care of, so he allowed himself the luxury of watching his victim go down. He lost him just as he was about to hit the ground - nearly stalled from all the excitement. After gaining control of his plane, Gaston reacquired the smoking crater that used to be a living being. He knew he had him, but did anyone else witness it? The two N12s were circling nearby doing their own thing and all his wingmen were still in pursuit of the first Fokker. Voscadeaux was certain he couldn’t count on the Huns in the trenches watching below as witnesses. He remained with the observation machines until they turned for home and then he followed them back. No sign of the rest of his flight, but he was certain they could take care of themselves. As it turns out he was wrong and the Fokker got away from them. Despite minimal chances of success Gaston had made the claim on the Eindecker and hoped for the best.
"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."
#4466028 - 03/17/1908:29 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
The work of the squadron goes on. A bombing run yesterday to harass enemy ground forces, then back to Loos Junction today. Both James and I dropped too soon so it was a rare unsuccessful mission.
Still no intervention from enemy aircraft. We have not been interfered with for what seems like weeks now. I keep expecting the enemy to ambush us at Loos Junction with a slew of Fokkers as we are there like clockwork every other morning or so. We keep hearing reports of Fokker attacks from other squadrons but remain relatively unscathed here in our own little area. A few of the younger fellows seem a bit bored and looking for a fight, but I am content to do our part with bombing and spotting; this war looks to go on for a while so no rush to get killed.
Last edited by 77_Scout; 03/17/1908:30 PM.
#4466032 - 03/17/1909:45 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Scout, I feel your pain with Loo's Junction. I feel much the same with Athies Junction.
Lou, #%&*$# Hoss! another one! Great pics also.
Lederhosen, I have never flown the Roland but they are the bugger to deal with across the sky.
Fullofit, that's a classic Bud. Turn and burn till your on his tail and nail him! Great video and congratulations.
Lt. Mark Jericho Bruay Aerodrome March 17, 1916
Jericho walked toward his hut after the day's mission. They had bombed the front lines near Oppy with no contact which was fine with him. As he entered the hut his friend Swany was sitting on his cot. Jericho stopped at the door and put his hands on his hips looking at Swany. "Well if it ain't Mr. Fancy Pants! The whole field is talking about your latest Hun Amigo! First they give you a medal and then you go out and shoot down another one. I got just one question." Swany looked at Jericho smiling. "Vat would that be" he asked. Jericho paused for a moment looking back at Swany. "What in the hell are you gonna do for an encore Pard! You got the jewelry, your name in the paper. Hell, you got a full time night women if you want it." Swany looked up at Jericho again and said "Don't push it Mark." Jericho put up his hands. "I'm just raggin' on ya. Didn't mean no disrespect to you or the lady" he said. Swany smiled, "I know you didn't. The last few days have been bit bewildering."
Jericho pulled off his flying suit and hung his 45 on it's peg. He then sat down on his cot. "You reckon we'll make it through all this Swany" he asked. "Who knows" Swany answered. "Seems to me its a game of inches" Jericho went on. "You take that crack on the noggin I got a a while back and James with that wicked scare he will carry the rest of his life. One more inch for either of us and we would have gone under for sure. Yep, its a game of inches." Swany did not answer "You believe in reincarnation Amigo" Jericho asked. "Never thought about it much" Swany answered. "Why" "Well, let me tell you my feelings on the subject. I heard a poem a ways back and it stuck with me. Go's like this"
What is reincarnation, a cowboy asked his friend. Why its something that happens when your life has reached the end. They comb your hair and wash your neck and clean your fingernails, And lay you in a padded box away from life's travails.
Now this box and you goes in a hole that's been dug into the ground. And this here reincarnation starts once your planted "neath the mound" Now pretty soon the clods melt down along with the box and you who are inside, and then your just beginning on your transformation ride.
And then one day some grass will grow upon rendered mound. Until one day, on your moldered grave a little flower is found. Then say by chance a horse should wander by and graze upon that flower that once was you and now has become your vegetative bower.
Now the posy that that horse done ate along with all the rest of his feed, becomes fat and bone and muscle, essential to the steed. But some is consumed that he can't use and so it finally passes on through, and just lays there on the ground. This thing that once was you
Then say, by chance, I wanders by And see's this on the ground, and I wonder and I ponder at this object that I found. And I begin to think about reincarnation and life and death and such. And I come away concluding Old pal, You ain't changed that much!
With that Jericho doubled over with laughter pointing at Swany. Swany Just shook his head with a wide grin.
Note: "Reincarnation" by Wallace McCrae
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!
#4466048 - 03/18/1912:17 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Joined: Nov 2014 Posts: 3,696Fullofit
Raine - another masterfully crafted addition to Collins' tale. Great story about the French family!
Lederhosen - See! Told you those Rolands are dangerous! I certainly wouldn't fancy going up against one...
Carrick - looks like Emile's wasting no time getting into the thick of it!
Fullofit - looks like the CdG has only spurred Gaston onward! Good show sending that Hun down! I sense an ace in the making...
Scout - I think my man needs a transfer to your outfit for some peace and quiet! Run-ins with Fokkers are bad for the nerves...
Lou - Hope Swany can catch a break from those Einies soon...if they're not careful they'll make a triple-ace out of him!
MFair - a game of inches indeed! Jericho's introspective episodes are always enjoyiable, really adds character to, er, the character! Nice touch with the poem as well.
hope I haven't missed anyone!
Sgt. Graham A. Campbell No. 20 Squadron R.F.C Clairmarais Aerodrome, France.
March 17th, 1916.
On the 16th, six of us were sent on an O.P. to Loos. As we were told by the Major, the Morane and B.E. Squadrons in the sector were being mercilessly persecuted by Fokkers, and so our orders were to “Get over there and put those cocky monoplanes in their damned place”. Graves was put in charge of the show, with Reid, Normie, McHarg and Edwards coming along too. Edwards was in a huff with me after I had gotten his bus shot about, and so I reluctantly offered him 6338 until his own machine was repaired. I tried to bite back my disappointment as he accepted.
Much to Rickard’s horror, the bus I chose to take instead was the would-be write-off that the chaps have nicknamed ‘Patchwork’ - my hidden gem. Staring mouth agape at the machine, he turned to me. "Bloody hell, Graham, I can just shoot myself if you want and save you the trouble of crashing this pile of driftwood!". I rolled my eyes. "I'll shoot you mself if you don't get in". I ignored the cocktail of confused stares and bouts of laughter coming from my wingmen’s machines as Patchwork was wheeled out onto the field. The sound was soon drowned out by our Beardmores firing up, and the staring ceased as we lifted into the air.
We approached the lines at 7,000 feet, flying in two groups of three. Behind Graves and Reid, I scanned the sky in anticipation for those accursed Fokkers. As we crossed into the mud, I took a moment to look below and watch as the trees grew sparse, then disappeared, leaving only the pockmarked grey-brown earth. Trench-lines had begun to appear as I turned my gaze upwards once more. Ahead of us, Normie, McHarg and Edwards had already crossed over the top of the Hun trenches, and were circling around on our patrol route. To the South-East, I watched a flight of Moranes lazily crawling along their patrol route. They looked frail and anemic, and I rather thought that the poor devils on board had been given a rotten hand.
It was then that I saw three more shapes, high and behind the Moranes. Smaller, and faster, and horribly familiar. Fokkers. I watched in horror as the Hun Monoplanes pointed their noses down and fell, hawk-like, onto the oblivious Parasols. Graves had noticed too - he swung his bus around, with Reid and I close behind him, as we opened our throttles wide and rushed towards the Fokkers. Spotting us bearing down on them, they promptly broke off their attack and dove for their own lines, with Graves and Reid in tow. Fearing a ruse, I curved over the top of the fleeing Moranes, placing myself within their formation. Looking to my right, the observer of the closest machine was gleefully waving at us.
'Patchwork' meets the famous Moranes of No. 3 Squadron!
I flew with the Moranes for ten minutes or so, before zooming up above them, wagging my wings in farewell, and turning for home. I couldn’t help but feel pleased as I watched the three Moranes disappear to the West, no doubt shaken, but still alive. About fifteen minutes after I had landed, Graves and Reid made their appearances, gliding down and slowing to a stop. Unfortunately, they had returned empty-handed: Their quarry had zoomed down to the closest Hun aerodrome and landed shortly after our arrival.
We were in high spirits that night, and the songs continued late into the evening. Eventually, growing weary (and beginning to feel woozy from the drink), Switch-Off, McHarg and I retired to our Billett. We were awoken about two hours later when the door swung open with some force, announcing the arrival of a heavily-drunk Jimmy Reynard. “Bloody hell, Jimmy, we’re trying to sleep!” I cried out, which was met by Jimmy giggling like a schoolgirl. “Ach’m Sorry - Jez’nJoyin Masel” he replied, staggering in and nearly barreling over right onto the mortified Switch-Off’s bunk. “Deary me” McHarg laughed from his corner of the cottage, as Jimmy fumbled around like a blind man for his bunk. “Whuirs’maBED?” he angrily blurted out, feeling his way across Switch-Off’s bunk to mines. I shot backwards against the wall to avoid him as he slumped down onto my bunk to the cry of “Ach!!”, before shakily finding his feet and resuming his searching. By this point, McHarg was cackling at poor Jimmy’s attempts, as Switch-Off nervously watched, letting out a quiet “oh!” with every precarious lean and stumble. Eventually, Jimmy was victoriously fumbling over his own bunk. “Gnight, ladsss” he said to nobody in particular, and promptly fell forwards. I rather think he was asleep before his head hit the pillow.
The next day, I awoke with a sore head and lethargically pulled on my uniform. From Jimmy’s corner of the cottage I heard a pained groan, followed by a sharp “It’s your own fault, Jim!” from Switch-Off. I chuckled in amusement - the youngest in the squadron, and the voice of reason!
After McHarg and I had managed to tear Jimmy from his bed, forcing a cup of strong black coffee down him, we headed to the briefing room. ‘B’ flight had the first show of the day - another O.P. over Loos. As Edwards was commandeering 6338 until his own bus was re-commissioned, I again took up ‘Patchwork’. Following Normie’s lead, we climbed up into the blue and headed for the mud. We reached the lines and begun our patrol route, and after scanning for a while we had seen nothing.
We had all but given up when we suddenly spotted a trio of Fokkers approaching us from our side of the lines. Turning to meet our attackers, our formations merged head-on, and I quickly saw one get behind Graves’ bus. I manoeuvred behind him and Rickard fired a burst, driving him off. It was then that I saw Reid’s Fee diving away steeply, with a second Fokker behind him. I had no time to assist, though - the third Hun was diving at me.
No. 20 in action!
I circled with him for a moment, before reversing and making a break for our lines. I had soon left the Fokker behind, but to my amazement they continued to chase us deep into our lines. I saw archie bursts ahead of me, and was astonished to see Graves still being chased by one of the tenacious Huns. I put ‘Patchwork’ into a dive, setting my sights on the insolent Fokker. It was over La Gorgue that I finally caught up to them. I could see the Hun’s machine-gun flashing, and could see the impacts on Graves’ bus as he attempted to spiral down to the safety of the aerodrome below. Immediately I was behind the Fokker, Rickard firing off a short burst. The Hun turned his attention to us, as Graves skidded away, his Fee trailing black smoke. As I circled with the Fokker, I saw a mass of airmen run out onto the aerodrome below to watch the spectacle unfold.
As we flashed past each other, Rickard opened fire again, and suddenly I saw sparks flashing on the Hun’s engine cowling - Rickard had hit him! Our opponent instantly turned for his own lines. I gave chase, as Rickard continued to fire at the now-fleeing Monoplane, but it was no good - I cried out in anger as the Hun climbed above us, out of reach.
I looked back down onto La Gorgue - there sat both Reid and Graves’ machines, and I could see the crews being helped out by some of the airmen. The rest appeared to be cheering, and waving! Remembering that La Gorgue was a Quirk aerodrome, I thought it must have been quite the thing for them to see a Fokker running home with his tail between his legs. Nervously I circled the aerodrome, trying to see if my wingmen were okay. After a few turns, I saw Graves hold one hand up high and begin to wave. Breathing out a sigh of relief, I flew home.
Shortly after de-planing one of the Batmen found me in the mess, and handed me a letter. Curiously, the return address was from Bertangles Aerodrome. Hoping it could distract me from my irritation over letting the Fokker escape, I hurriedly opened the letter, unfolding it and beginning to scan through the neat, small handwriting on the page. Within the first paragraph I knew who it was from, and my heart leapt as I continued down the page. The letter read:
How are you, mate? I hope this letter finds you well. I am pleased to let you know that I have finally joined you in France. I am very much enjoying the local towns, the food is excellent and the women are enchanting. I envy you that you have been here three months already!
How are the rest of the fellas from Hounslow? I caught up with Teddie Lawson shortly before I came over with No. 24 Squadron - the poor bugger was brought down by a Fokker in his first week and was sent home with a Blighty, shot through the arm and both legs. He is okay now, although he has to walk with a cane. I am glad to say he is not done with the war yet, though, and hopes to be sent back over soon.
I have had my first scrap with the Hun! The Fokker is no match for our De Havillands. We can turn and roll far better than they can. The other day I was behind a Fokker, and despite all his tricks he couldn’t get rid of me. I reckon he was terrified! Luckily for him, it turns out I am a poor shot, and he managed to duck away into a cloud before I could get him.
I hope to hear back from you soon. If ever you find yourself near our field, you must come and visit.
I couldn’t believe it! Brimming with excitement, I couldn’t wait for Switch-Off to return from his patrol to show him. In my head I had already begun to envision my trip to No. 24’s aerodrome - how I had missed good old Freddy! Completely forgetting about my unsatisfying scrap earlier, I begun to wonder if he would let me have a turn in his De Havilland when I arrived.
It was around noon when I heard the buzz of engines approaching, and excitedly I jumped up from my seat, rushing out with the letter onto the aerodrome. I saw two Fees come about, seeing Switch-Off’s crimson scarf flicking out from the nacelle of the trailing machine. Eagerly I begun to step towards them as their machines touched down, rolling to a stop. However, as Switch-Off clambered out of his bus I noticed that he seemed shaken, his face pale and clammy. As he pulled off his flying gauntlets, stepping towards me, I noticed his hands shaking. “Switchy?” I asked, and his eyes flicked over to me. “Those damned Fokkers…” he quietly mumbled as he passed.
It was then that I heard a third machine passing. Running back and standing at my side, Switch-Off turned to face the direction of the sound with a panicked expression. Together we watched as another Fee approached. Immediately I knew something was very wrong. The Observer hung limply over the side of the nacelle, his head bobbing up and down as the Fee’s wingtips quivered left and right. The rudder hung loose and seemed to swing in the wind. As the machine got closer, it nosed down violently towards the field before abruptly snapping up again. I now noticed several severed wires hanging loose and trailing behind the craft.
In mute horror I watched as the machine wobbled downwards, listing to one side, before dropping its nose and thudding sickeningly into the ground, the wings buckling and collapsing and the tail struts splintering and warping. One section of strut snapped and twisted into the path of the still-spinning propeller, being torn away completely and rocketed into the sky. In a flash, a group of Ack-Emmas rushed to the machine, dragging the two limp airmen out of the nacelle. One reached over, hastily switching off the magnetos, at which point the engine fell silent and the deadly propeller begun to slow to a halt.
Stretcher-bearers tore onto the field now, and I ran after them, feeling sick to my stomach. As I got closer I saw that both airmen’s tunics were drenched with blood, although I couldn’t make out where their wounds were. A medic was removing the pilot’s shattered goggles and flying cap when I reached the crowd. As they removed his scarf I got a better look at his bloodstained face. Closing my eyes, I let out a miserable sigh.
It was McHarg.
Last edited by Wulfe; 03/18/1908:33 AM.
#4466185 - 03/18/1903:35 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Joined: May 2012 Posts: 4,873RAF_Louvert
BOC President; Pilot Extraordinaire; Humble Man
Emile Benoit La Mont Sgt, N 26 St. Pol-sur-mer, AF Flanders. March 18, 1916.
Posted to a Arty Shoot and hit a Hole. Returning to Zee landing strip after a boring Arty flight, I started to loose power so headed for closest Flying Field. On touching down and still at 70 mph, I hit a bomb crater ( blast Hole ) Zee landing gear came off and we sled across 100 feet of dirt and grass. Both of us was shaken, but ok. Zee , Huns will get U one way or another. At lest 2 days down time.
#4466218 - 03/18/1904:23 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Beautiful flying weather continues and the world feels set to burst into spring. We accompanied Jones and his observer on an arty spotting mission east of Ypres, an area we have seldom flown despite it being the closest point on the front to our airfield. As always, our two Bristol pilots (Captains Davis and Buckminster) swept the area ahead and no enemy machines were about.
March 16, 1916
We flew the same crew contingent as yesterday but had a new target; the Hun airfield at Phalenpin. It isn't far from Loos Junction so we know the way there, and did some damage based on what Chris could see as we turned for home. Another glorious day for flying and we had the skies to ourselves.
Last edited by 77_Scout; 03/19/1901:12 AM.
#4466333 - 03/18/1911:56 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Joined: Nov 2014 Posts: 3,696Fullofit
Carrick, Do be careful. We have a war to win! Scout, sometimes I think we have to pay our dues before we … get a better plane, or get to shoot the Hun. Wulfe, where to start? I didn't see that one coming. McHarg? I always thought it would be Switch-Off to buy it next. You know, anyone who touches Jeanne gets it. Like a venereal disease. Oh well, as Switchy put it elegantly: “Those damned Fokkers…”
Voscadeaux’s Fokker claim was denied. As expected, the usual reason for the denial was the lack of witnesses. As they say: tant pis. Today was another babysitting job. It apparently wasn’t a critical mission as only Gaston and Cpl. Dreux were assigned to escort 2 N-12’s to recon the enemy airfield at Porcher. Gaston stuck to the ‘A’ Flight during the entire time in the air. On the way to target he saw 3 biplane dots chasing 1 monoplane dot. He lost them in the distant mist. Soon after, Gaston noticed 2 Aviatiks overflying at higher altitude. He still resisted the temptation to go after them and continued on with the main formation. Once over the Hun aerodrome he even let a lone Aviatik land at a nearby airfield. Nothing would distract Gaston while he focused on protecting his charges. Not even the damned Flak. After 15 minutes of circling the aerodrome it was time to return. The two recon crews were relieved it was a quiet mission. It is quite possible they were allowed to conduct their observations unmolested thanks to the presence of their escort.
"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."
#4466351 - 03/19/1901:31 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Carrick - Oof! Those pesky craters! I'm glad Emile walked away unhurt! Scout - sounds like Aleck's war is going smoothly! That being said, hopefully the lads in the Bristols will keep any marauding Fokkers at bay!
Fullofit - Sorry about your Fokker claim - those Frenchies are a strict bunch when it comes to confirmation! I'm glad to see Gaston retaining his compassion for his Two-Seater colleagues - he hasn't let the CdG get to his head! I wonder what effect his next one will have on him...So far, Switchy's lucky scarf has outweighed Jeanne's curse...but his luck may be running out...only time will tell...
Sgt. Graham A. Campbell, No. 20 Squadron R.F.C Clairmarais Aerodrome, France.
March 18th, 1916.
Quietly, we sat in the briefing room, the weight of yesterday looming over us. Major Wilson turned to us, as stoic as ever, but somehow we could sense his anxiety. “Men,” he began, as we motionlessly listened, “McHarg’s injuries are severe, but as of this morning he is awake and responsive. I am assured he will recover in time. Harrison, regrettably, still has not regained consciousness. Both men are to be sent back to England”. The silence cracked the air in two. “Now. Your assignments”.
We were performing recons today. ‘A’ flight was being sent to Toucouring, ‘B’ to Armentieres, and ‘C’ to Loos. Readying our Fees, we uttered our good-lucks to each other and climbed aboard. Following Normie’s lead, we circled around and turned towards our climbing point. Two machines suddenly appeared above us from behind a cloud - they were Caudrons! I curiously gazed up at the large, weird-looking twin-engined machines as they slowly crept across our front, and for a moment I was distracted from thinking about poor McHarg. However, the Caudrons had soon disappeared Southwards, and Graves had begun to climb. I made to follow, but suddenly the Beardmore at my back begun to groan and rattle. With Rickard nervously looking back at me, I checked the instrument panel. The RPM needle flickered between 1200 and 1300, before slowly beginning to descend as ‘Patchwork’ begun to shake in protest. Telling myself to remain level-headed, I reached for my Very pistol, holding the stick between my legs as I loaded a green cartridge for 'ENGINE TROUBLE', firing the signal forwards and above me before gently turning round in a slow descent.
Staying at 1,000 feet, I nursed the agitated Fee back towards Clairmarais. At my back, the Beardmore’s fluctuations in revolutions grew more severe, before suddenly evening out at 8,000 RPM. Gripping the column of the now-anemic Fee tightly, I approached Clairmarais and made a shaky landing, at which point Cpl. Weston came running out. “Wot’s the problem, sir?” he called out, as he jogged over. “Bloody engine’s missed!” I cried back, as Rickard climbed down from the Nacelle. Turning to me in exasperation, he threw his hands up in the air. “I told you this damned bus was a dud!” he yelled, shaking his head as he strolled towards the mess for an early lunch.
I assisted Weston in wheeling the machine into its hangar, at which point he summoned Cpl. Mealing, one of our fitters. I decided to stay and observe their work on the machine after Weston offered me a cup of tea. The Ack-Emmas went about checking over ‘Patchwork’, and in no time at all Mealing had found the issue. As it turned out, one of the Magneto wires had been improperly fitted, and the insulation had chafed away, fraying the wire and eventually snapping it.
Unexpectedly grounded for the day, I visited McHarg in the hospital tent. He was a sorry sight, his head and torso wrapped in bone-white bandages. Despite it obviously causing him pain, he sat upright as I walked in, chirping out a weak “Morning, Campbell,”. I smiled and nodded, taking a seat in the simple wooden chair beside his bunk. “How’s Harrison?” he asked me. “Oh, he’s quite fine,” I lied, before hastily changing the topic. “Have you heard the good news? You’ve caught a Blighty!” I joked. McHarg attempted a laugh, which became a cough. “Yes, well, it seems I’m as lucky at flying as I am at cards” he retorted, gesturing with his eyes towards his arm, which I now saw was wrapped in a sling. I chuckled sympathetically. “Say, Campbell, can you light me a fag? I can’t strike a bloody match with this arm”. Obligingly I produced a box of Lucifers, lighting one of my own cigarettes and handing it to him.
Gratefully, he took a long drag, closing his eyes and leaning backwards. Quietly, he begun to speak again. “How embarrassing” he muttered, and I glanced at him in surprise. “What, the smash?”. He shook his head. “No, being sent home”. Despite myself I laughed. “Oh, well, don’t worry, you’ll soon be back over and -” he cut me off. “Campbell, I’m stomach-shot. I haven’t survived that damned Fokker yet”.
I could find no words to respond. No witticisms. We sat in silence for a few moments, listening to the distant drone of ‘A’ flight returning from their morning show. In a more cheery tone, McHarg turned to me and said “Well, go and see how they got on, then!”. Managing a faint smile, I nodded and made my way back out onto the aerodrome.
As Normie’s machine swooped down to land, I could make out the bullet holes and the severed wires. Fortunately, the crew emerged unscathed from the battle-damaged bus, as did the airmen aboard the other two buses. However, ‘A’ flight had returned with one aircraft less. Intercepting Normie as he tiredly dragged his feet towards the mess, I asked him what had happened. Without looking at me, he sighed deeply. “Come on. Let’s get a drink”.
As we sat on either side of the small wooden table between the fireplace and Pierson’s piano, Normie explained the events of the day. ‘A’ flight’s show had been a very near-run thing. “We were nearly at Toucouring, when I saw behind us four Aviatiks, accompanied by no less than six Fokkers. They were shadowing us, from above and behind”. My eyes widened. “Ten Hun machines, together?” I asked in disbelief. Normie nodded solemnly. “I had my very pistol ready, keeping an eye on them. Surely enough, two Monoplanes came down at me, at which point I fired the flare.I turned the bus to meet one head-on, and Talbot opened fire. The Hun didn’t care much for that, and skidded away”.
I listened in mute awe at the disturbing tale. “Captain James swung the formation about, and we took the Huns on, but they refused to let us get close, staying out of our guns for a while. Eventually, they all came in at us. Quickly I saw one Fokker falling and trailing smoke, and again we beat them away. However, Anderson and Forbes’ bus had disappeared. We tried to look for them, but there was no sign”. Pausing for a moment, Normie took a long, deep sip of his whiskey, before lighting a cigarette. “It’s a shame Pierson goes on leave today. I could use a song to cheer me up” he concluded. I nodded in agreement. “Poor chaps. Hopefully they got down okay”.
‘B’ returned just after two O’Clock, after having had an uneventful show, but ‘C’ hadn’t fared much better than ‘A’. They, too, came back one machine short. It was a double-blow for me, as it was Edwards, in 6338, who was missing. As Switch-Off explained, they, too had gotten into a scrap with a group of Fokkers. The battle was short-lived, with only a small exchange of fire, but he had seen Edwards slipping down towards the allied lines during the scrap.
The mess was quiet that night. To everyone’s surprise, Jimmy Reynard had some ability on the Piano, enough for us to run through ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’ once, but he was no Pierson. We were not downhearted, though. Harrison was awake again, although he was still in a bad way, but he and McHarg had left earlier in a Bedford bound for the coast, and would soon be back in England. To further lift our spirits, both Edwards and Anderson, and their observers, had telephoned the squadron, and were back with us at Clairmarais by dusk. Sadly, Edwards had his controls shot away during ‘C’ flight’s scrap, and had been forced to crash-land old 6338. The faithful old girl was wrecked completely in the smash.
As the evening was wrapping up, Edwards snapped his fingers and turned to me. “Oh, Campbell! Before I forget, I thought you would appreciate having this back”. From his pocket he produced a small pouch of tea, handing it to me. My stomach churned as I recognised my lucky charm - I had been flying without it for two days!
The mood in our Billett was sombre as Switch-Off and I watched the lights dimming on the aerodrome from the window. The youngster broke the silence. “Good thing our boys all made it back today,” he said, a faint smile on his face. I nodded slowly. “Quite. It seems our luck is up”. Switch off let out a weak laugh, and for a moment the quiet lingered, before he spoke again. “Do you think McHarg will be okay?” he asked, his voice distant. I looked over at him, and noticed that he appeared slightly old for his age. “Oh, he’ll be perfectly fine. He’s a tough chap”. We didn’t speak again for a few minutes. Switch-Off lit a cigarette, the orange glow catching in the reflection of the window. As he inhaled, I heard the faint crackle of the tobacco as it was converted into ash. “Graham?” he asked softly, his eyes turned away from me. “Yes, Switchy?”. He sighed, a thin trail of smoke escaping his nostrils. “I don’t want to die”.
I felt a stab of sadness in my chest. I desperately wanted to tell him that he wouldn’t die, that we would all go back to England and lead long, happy and normal lives. But the words wouldn’t come, and deep down I knew that, no, we wouldn’t all go home. The most terrible realisation was that we couldn’t ever know who would fall next. It dawned on me that it may well be me going West next. But then, I was possessed by another idea. The idea of Today. In my mind I realised that, today, everybody had come back to Clairmarais safely. Today, McHarg was on his way back to Blighty, away from the clutches of our war. Today, we had laughed as, when Jimmy had sat down at the piano, Edith had introduced him to the ‘stage’ as if he were one of the great composers of old. Today, I was alive.
Smiling to myself, I drifted off into sleep.
I) Normie's recounting of 'A' Flight's story is a retelling of a reconnaissance flown by the real No. 20 Squadron on March 18th, 1916, during which a flight of five F.E.2s were attacked by six Fokkers and four Two-Seaters. Cpt. James and Cpl. Stringer, in F.E.2 A5206, sent one Fokker down, smoke pouring from its engine. However Anderson & Forbes damaged bus, A6328, was seen by James being pursued at low altitude by a Fokker. The flight lost sight of A6328, eventually giving them up for lost and returning home. However, Anderson remarkably got his bus home and landed in a field south of Ypres, only just missing a pair of trees as he did so. The only casualty of the encounter was 2nd. Lieut. Kirton, who was wonded in the arm and leg. He was repatriated to England, but was deemed unfit for flying above 5,000 feet. Kirton later went on to be a Test Pilot at the Vickers factory where he remained until his untimely death on November 22 1918, losing his life in an accident while flying a Sopwith Dolphin.
II) Graham's bus, A6338, has sadly met its end. However, it lasted longer than its historical counterpart - the real A6338 was lost on February 21st, when 2nd. Lieuts Newbold and Champion flew her on a reconnaissance. Sadly, two of her three FE2 escorts dropped out with engine trouble, and they came under attack by a lone Fokker near Moorseele. Her remaining escort drove the Fokker off, but not before A6338's cylinder water jacket had been shot through. Dropping altitude, A6338 was attacked by a second Fokker and an Aviatik. To make matters worse, it was raining that day, and Champion's Lewis Gun had soon iced over, leaving A6338 defenceless! East of Menin, at 4,000 feet, A6338's engine finally gave out, and Newbold made a forced landing under fire from German infantry, touching down on Terra Firma just one field across from the Germans on the ground. Both men were immediately captured, as was A6338.
A pair of Uhlans stand beside the captured 6338
Last edited by Wulfe; 03/19/1901:47 AM.
#4466359 - 03/19/1902:24 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Lou, Madame FouFou’s Travelling Show must have been quite a sight. With the boys moving into huts at the airfield, we may have to repurpose the hut. Amazing work with Daniel – celebrating the MC by downing yet another Hun scout!
Fullofit, I’m sure the trip to Charleville was a bit more nerve-wracking than Gaston let on. Your Croix de Guerre will make it all worthwhile, I hope. You may have to buy a longer ribbon to hold all the palms and stars they’ll be making for Gaston. And your most recent photo of the Archie at the moment of shell-burst was incredible.
Lederhosen, we’re all a bit jealous that you get to introduce the Roland. Congratulations on your Caudron!
Carrick, you’re getting adventurous in that two-seater Nieuport! Please watch those shell craters.
MFair, I’ve got to get Christian to give Sgt Wilson lessons with the Lewis. Hats off for your latest Fokker. And I loved the poem.
Scout, I hope Aleck will have more of those uneventful trips until he can get off BE2s.
Wulfe, I heartily thank you for playing big brother to our Moranes. I wish only that I’d have Graham watching over my flight on some of the deep patrols. The photographs of the most recent fight were beautiful, and your description of poor McHarg’s crash was a teeth-clencher. Well done again!
Thanks to Lou, and MFair, Collins and Wilson have remained Fokker-free for the past few days...
An Airman’s Odyssey – by James Arthur Collins
Part Twenty-Six: In which we bid farewell to Auchel
14 March 1916 – I flew alongside Captain Mealing and Sergeant Bayetto once again as Mealing and his observer, Erik Hoskins, photographed some new defensive works on the eastern side of Vimy Ridge. It was a clear day with scattered clouds scudding along like a fleet at sea. The grimy cityscape of Loos lay before us as we bounced in the rough air. Strange how sometimes the best weather makes for rough flying. Two French scouts stayed above and behind us – a wonderful feeling. As we turned west again, ninety minutes in, a lone Hun two-seater passed by a few hundred yards to my right and slightly higher up. I couldn’t help it. Swanson was batting Huns out of the air like clay pigeons and I was determined to bag one. I turned about and gave chase. Unfortunately, as soon as I turned about the wind, which was unusually out of the east, slowed us down and we watched as the fat two-seater receded into the distance, still unaware of our presence. We turned home to face a dressing-down from Mealing for leaving the formation.
The next afternoon after my patrol I joined Jericho and Swanson for a long ride to Choques, where we had a drink (coffee for Jericho) in 10 Squadron’s mess. When we returned to wash up before tea, the entire airfield was abuzz and all the squadron lorries were lined up at the edge of the field. The corporal-groom ran over to meet us and demanded the horses, as he had to account for all the saddlery. In our absence orders had arrived that we were to relocate to the nearby field at Bruay. There was an advance party from 18 Squadron already fussing about, clearly eying our creature comforts and my hut like a band of marauding riffs. We told them to bugger off and Swany, like an Egyptian slave-master, commandeered several men to help us jack up my hut and fashion some axles and wheels, thereby converting Madame FouFou’s House of Pleasure into the oddest wagon in all of France!
The field at Bruay was a good one, not hemmed in by terrils and houses and trees like the one at Auchel. It lay just south of the town of Bruay on the western side of the road from St-Pol-sur-Ternoise to Béthune. The other ranks were billeted in huts alongside a lane that skirted the north side of the expansive field. Not all the work was yet done, and a group of German prisoners who were building the place were under canvas (and under guard) a little farther west of the field. Several fine wooden buildings with corrugated roofs lay east of the north-south main road and housed the workshops. Next to them were the officers’ huts, sturdy wooden structures segmented into six two-person rooms each. The officer’s mess and associated kitchen was close by. Next to the main road at the edge of the field were several Bessoneau hangars as well as some wooden permanent hangars. We of No 3 Squadron were to be its first occupants.
We were at a loss for what to do with Madame FouFou’s, for I was now sharing a room in the hard standings with a new pilot, Fred Dalton. Jericho and Swanson were sharing a room in the other building, closer to the mess. I asked Swanson and Jericho if they would mind, given the beautiful stained glass and shelf brackets they had crafted, if we set the hut up across the road at the north-east corner of the field and lend it to the non-commissioned pilots and observers so that they could remain closer to the officers while still being on the same side of the road as the other ranks. They agreed without a second thought and I went to discuss the matter with the Major and disciplinary sergeant-major. The sergeant-major said he’d approve, but if the matter created problems in the sergeants’ mess he would put an end to the arrangement.
We stood down on the 16th and put our new home in order, and Dalton and I managed a trip into Bruay to buy a carpet, table, oil lamps, cloth hooks, and curtains. Dalton even found a fine painting of a reclining nude to grace his side of the room. One of my cases of Yukon Gold whiskey had disappeared in the move, but the other found a home under my bed.
On the 17th I flew with Mealing and Sergeant Bayetto to Athies to drop bombs on a rail depot. The place was a good distance over the lines and I was admittedly nervous. We were supposed to meet up with some DH2s from 20 Squadron, but they failed to appear. The clouds forced us down to 3000 feet and I was not fond of flying that low so far into Darkest Hunland. As it happened, our bombs found several buildings and, I believe, an ammunition store. There was a rather large secondary explosion. We wasted no time heading home and arrived safe and sound, not having seen a single enemy machine in the air.
"... our bombs found several buildings and, I believe, an ammunition store."
On 18 March we visited the Hun aerodrome at Haubourdin and dropped several bombs on some Fokkers that were lined up on the field. I saw a burning hangar and several plumes of smoke, but do not believe we destroyed any aircraft. It was a pleasure to turn in over the low trees at the south end of Bruay field and touch down without having to come so close to disaster.
I made plans to ride over to Auchel as soon as I could to say a proper farewell to the Poirier family who had been so kind to me there.
Last edited by Raine; 03/19/1902:26 AM.
#4466539 - 03/19/1910:37 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Joined: Nov 2014 Posts: 3,696Fullofit
Gentlemen, another batch of excellent and beautifully crafted stories. Wulfe, if the engine was running at 8,000 RPM, then why not just close the throttle a little? As Raine described it best - a jaw-clencher. Raine, this is amazing! I think the Hun will soon run out of ammunition and give up. Read on.
Voscadeaux was sitting hunched deep inside his cockpit shielding himself from the frigid wind. He was leading the ‘B’ Flight to attack the Spincourt airfield and trying to convince himself that it was not a futile attempt without bombs. Gaston took them along the lines hoping to catch some Fokkers and thus avoiding flying to Spincourt, but no such luck. They haven’t encountered any opposition on the way to target. They've approached the aerodrome from SW and Voscadeaux gave the command to attack. He picked a large building at the west end of the field and fired. He saw tracers following the planes and as he was making a turn for another pass he noticed an Aviatik taking off. He immediately switched to the new target and dove under his tail. He let a few bursts go but had to swerve to avoid a collision. He realized he had too much speed and slowed down enough before his second attack. Again, he crept below the Boche and fired and fired and fired, but the Hun just kept on going. Gaston was gnawing his teeth as his Lewis had ran dry and he had to watch and hope that the indestructible machine will falter and crash to the ground. He was disappointed when the two-seater floated gently to the ground just at the edge of the airfield. Voscadeaux was about to wish the gallant German aircrew a long life of chronic dysentery when an enormous explosion rocked the entire aerodrome. Gaston had to right his plane after the blast had thrown him sideways. One of his wingmen must have had hit the ammunition stores. The place was a mess. People laying around either dead or knocked out. The less fortunate ones were rolling on the ground either trying to put out the flames consuming their clothes or from pain of lost limbs, burnt faces, impaled by debris organs. Gaston called it a day. He signaled to the rest of his flight to regroup and pointed his scout SW and began to climb. He wanted to leave this place as quickly as possible. Not because he couldn't stand the agony below, but because he was out of ammo. He was a sitting duck a l'orange for any Fokker that would happen to fly by. Voscadeaux breathed easier once they crossed the lines. The mission was a resounding success, despite the Aviatik that had gotten away (yet again). Voscadeaux’s wingman, Cpl. Dreux, proudly walked around the aerodrome showing his singed eyebrows to anyone who’d care to inspect them. He was the one who caused the explosion and nearly lost his own life in the process.
"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."
#4466577 - 03/20/1902:07 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Raine - I continue to thoroughly enjoy An Airman's Odyssey. It reads very similarly to the pilots' memoirs I've read - Collins' escapades are very believable and masterfully crafted on your part! Hard luck with that Two-Seater giving you the slip - but glad to see that Collins also possesses the 3 Squadron fighting spirit - no doubt he's next in line to bag a Bosche. Also, stellar job levelling that Hun aerodrome. No doubt it gave those Fokker pilots something to think about!
Fullofit - Great storytelling with the airfield raid, and a wicked video to match! I am very much enjoying the development of Gaston's character - his clinical outlook in the air and his hunger for the next air victory is quite Fonck-esque..as Raine said, you'd better buy that elongated ribbon...as for the 8,000 RPM wonder-Fee...well, that's why I don't usually write when I'm falling asleep
I decided to get a little creative with the screenshots this time around!
Sgt. Graham A. Campbell, No. 20 Squadron R.F.C, Clairmarais Aerodrome, France.
March 19th, 1916.
I awoke early, before the sun was at full strength. Switch-Off was already up, and sat at the writing desk, penning a letter. In the far corner, Jimmy Reynard snored loudly, sprawled out across his bunk. McHarg’s bunk lay neatly made, and undisturbed. Hearing the signs of life behind him, Switch-Off peered over his shoulder. “Ah, good morning, Graham,” he said in a hushed tone, so as not to disturb Jimmy. “Morning, Switchy” I replied, as I clambered into my uniform. As I was tucking my shirt in, Switch-Off spun around in his chair to face me. “Say, Graham, never mind what I said last night. It was only the drink”. I looked at him out of the corner of my eye. “Well, I told you not to try Gin” I responded, and winked. Chuckling, Switch-Off turned back to his letter.
Stepping through the door into the brisk chill of the morning, I lit a cigarette. After a short while, Switch-Off appeared behind me. “Hey, Switchy, I’ve had an idea”. “Oh?”. “We should build a fire pit out here, with a rack. If we got ourselves some chairs, we could sit out here in the mornings and hang a kettle, make some tea”. His face lit up. “Yes, that sounds lovely! I have a trip into St. Omer planned today, I can buy a kettle and some chairs, and I will buy some tins of tea from Jea-” he cut himself off, an embarrassed look flashing across his face. Sympathetically, I continued. “Good idea! Jimmy and I can get some firewood and build the pit”. As if summoned, Jimmy staggered out of the doorway, only half in uniform. “Jeez, the drink’s gonny kill me quicker than the Hun” he muttered, tapping me on the shoulder and gesturing at my cigarette. I handed it to him, half-smoked, and he joyously inhaled deeply, passing it back and blowing a thick cloud of smoke into the air, watching it evaporate.
As Switch-Off begun explaining our fire-pit plan to Jimmy, I turned back inside and fetched pen and paper, sitting down to write Freddy back. Thinking for a moment, I begun to write:
I am overjoyed to hear from you, and hope to see you soon. I am glad that you are enjoying the comforts of France. Sadly, life in No. 20 has been less decadent as of late. I am also glad to hear that you encountered Teddie, for I wrote him not long after he went overseas, with no reply. Now I understand why!
Switch-Off is well, but is prone to the stresses of war. But, I am afraid I have some very sad news, Jacky-Boy went West some weeks ago, brought down by a Fokker.
Hopefully I will be able to visit you when I am next on leave. I am excited to see your De Haviland machine! Our Fees are reliable in a fight, but the D.H.2 is a true hunter.
Yours, Graham Campbell.”
As I sealed the envelope, Jimmy poked his head through the doorway. “Righty-ho, shall we get te briefing?”.
‘B’ flight was given the morning O.P. over Armentieres. As Rickard and I boarded ‘Patchwork’, I couldn’t help but feel a stab of loss for my own wrecked bus. I noticed Edwards shooting us a guilty look from the cockpit of the now-repaired 6333. I can't say I bear him any ill-will for losing 6338. However, with my charm firmly affixed to the flight stick of 'Patchwork', I felt at home in the cockpit of the spare machine.
Graves led us skywards, and we turned into our circling climb, with Normie and Edwards’ buses taking station above us. The sky was grey, and the winds seemed not to want us up, and in the distance great beastlike clouds made their private migrations towards Hunland. We followed them, tensely watching each-other’s machines as the wind buffeted us about. In shaky formation, we approached the front, crossing over the top of Bailleul, and begun our patrol. As we reached the edge of Hunland we merged into a great towering wall of cloud, and I strained my eyes to keep track of the ambiguous silhouettes of my flight as they turned North-East. Suddenly, as we flew into a circular gap in between the clouds, a single burst of Archie appeared between my own machine and Reid’s. I was stunned - not only had the Archie gunners spotted us almost immediately, but their fire was accurate! We begun to weave gently to throw their aim off. A second burst appeared to my left. I turned to look at it, and caught a glimpse of movement out past it, in the direction of the mud. I focused on the shape - it was a lone Fokker, circling upwards in a creeping climb. I quickly realised my flight hadn’t noticed the Hun, who was now turning towards us, but before I could gauge his intent we were swallowed by the clouds once more.
Graves turned our formation Westwards once more, having become fed-up with the archie. Looking backwards, I could see the shape of the Fokker flashing between the clouds, drawing nearer. There was no question - he was hunting us. I pushed the throttle forwards and begun to climb, in anticipation of his attack, and below me my flight disappeared into the grey. Suddenly I hit another clearing in the cloud, and it was here that I chose to face my adversary. As Rickard readied the front gun, I violently swung ‘Patchwork’ around. Facing each-other head-on, we merged with the Hun. He immediately zoomed up above us, circling overhead and out of Rickard’s guns. I recognised this trick, and refused it, diving down towards our lines, and the wall of cloud. I saw that he had dove down after me, and was still at my tail when we broke into the grey again. We punched out the other side, and still the Fokker pursued me. I looked down, and saw the edge of the mud. My plan had worked - the Hun had come over to our side! I snapped back, and we faced each other head-on once more. This time he didn’t loop away - as he passed close to my left, I caught a glimpse of his face. Below his flying goggles protruded the tip of a long, thin nose positioned above a thin-lipped mouth and a short, stubby chin. He looked young and eager.
We both broke in the same direction, and flashed past each other again. This time, I changed my direction and - yes! We were behind him! The Hun tried to reverse the direction of his turn, but I stuck to his tail firmly. Now his eagerness had left him - we were drawing closer now on his tail as he weaved left and right, skidding away into a dive before pitching sharply back up, trying to zoom above ous once more. It was no use - I recognised each trick he tried in order to shake me. Drawing nearer, we got within point blank range, and, seeing his chance, Rickard fired off a twenty round burst. I watched as the tracers slashed a line up the Hun's tail and into the cockpit, at which point he snapped up as if hit by a bolt of electricity, before crumpling down in his seat.
I spiralled down to watch as the Fokker went into a steep dive, screaming towards earth and oblivion before finally smashing itself into matchwood close to the outskirts of Bailleul. It had fallen only 500 meters or so from one of our Observation balloons! There was no way they couldn’t have seen the victory. Satisfied, I straightened ‘Patchwork’ out and turned for home, only to see Rickard point above us. Looking up, I saw two Aviatiks hastily swinging around for their own lines. In glee I realised that they must have seen the whole scrap. That’s right! I told them in my mind, We’ll send the lot of you down!
As we put Bailleul between us and the mud, I checked my instruments and noticed that my fuel was running low. Deciding not to risk souring a successful day, I decided to put in at a nearby aerodrome. Fortunately, I soon spotted a small cream aeroplane sitting beside some hangars, and so circled down to land. Taxiing alongside the machine, I was surprised to see that it was a French Nieuport 10. It was my first time seeing one up close, and excitedly I climbed out of ‘Patchwork’, running over to the machine and examining it studiously as one may regard a fine work of art.
It was a truly elegant machine - its sleek, simple fuselage and angled wings hinted at speed, its single Lewis gun mounted over the wing promised fury. Longingly, I ran a hand down the Vee-strut, imagining myself at the controls of the Nieuport among the clouds, circling hawk-like above Aviatik and Fokker alike, indomitable. However, I was soon snapped out of my flights of fancy by the sharp sound of a throat being cleared behind me. Turning around, I was met with the sight of a short redheaded Captain.
“Afternoon, old boy! Engine trouble?” he happily chirped. I shook my head. “No, we were almost dry on petrol”. Still grinning, he nodded. “Rotten luck! But not to fret, I’ll have a Corporal refill your bus. Meanwhile, perhaps you would care for a drink in the squadron’s mess”. From beside ‘Patchwork’ Rickard immediately called out “Terribly kind of you! Show us the way!”. The Captain escorted us towards a quaint wooden house from which emanated the sound of lively chatter. Leading us inside, the Captain loudly announced “Chaps, we have another guest!”. A loud cheer preceded this announcement, as a roomful of double-brandies were lifted into the air. Turning back to us, the Captain, grinning, said to us “Make yourselves comfortable, chaps!”. At the same time, a Lieutenant pushed drinks into our hands.
Removing my flying coat and making for an empty armchair, I suddenly noticed an airman, older than most in the room, with a thin squared-off moustache and clad in a powder blue uniform. Approaching him, he caught my eye as I sat down in the chair across from him. “Excuse me,” I started. “Oui?” “That Nieuport outside, it must be yours!”. The Aviateur smiled and puffed out his chest. “Of course!” he said loudly, laugh-lines appearing around his eyes. I leaned in closer, keen to hear everything I could about the machine.
“I must say, it is a fine-looking aeroplane! I’ve never seen one up close before”. The Frenchman flashed a sharp grin. “But of course! Avions français are the finest in the sky!”. His patriotism jarred, but I ignored it. “Tell me, how does it fare against those Fokkers?”. “Monsieur, they fear us. Only two days ago I sent a Bosche scrambling for home like a dog! Oui, the Nieuport holds mastery of the air”. I grinned, imagining the nimble scout turning loops around its opponent, before placing my drink on the small circular table between us and extending a hand. “Sergeant Graham Campbell, 20 Squadron R.F.C”. The Frenchman winked at me as he took my hand. “Adjutant Hugo Pierlot, Escadrille 57.
“So, how come you’ve put down here?” I asked Pierlot, and he shrugged. “Je ne peux pas dire. One moment I was patrolling, the next my engine had fallen silent”. “Hard luck,” I replied. “And you?” he asked. “Oh, well, I was nearly out of petrol”. He laughed quietly. “What an annoyance. Ah well, I’ve come to worse places! I admit, you English make for good hosts”. He held up his glass. “Pour la liberté et la victoire!”. “To winning the war!” I responded, and we toasted.
I had just finished my brandy when the Captain that had introduced us appeared at our side. “Your machine is ready to go” he announced, and I stood up. As I did so, Pierlot also rose to his feet. “Monsieur, you have seen my machine. I wish to see yours!”. And so, after collecting a tipsy Rickard, we walked out onto the aerodrome, where ‘Patchwork’ sat waiting. The Frenchman looked over ‘Patchwork’ apprehensively. “Hmm. Er, she has seen many battles, no?” he asked, and I laughed. “Yes, she may not be as pretty as a Nieuport, but she’s a fighter!”. As I climbed aboard, Pierlot ran a hand across a re-stitched section of fabric, frowning as he did so. “Forgive me, Monsieur. I cannot say I am jealous”. I merely shrugged. Standing up straight, Pierlot offered his hand to me. “Bonne chance, Campbell. Hopefully we shall meet again”. Shaking his hand, I grinned. “Good luck, old boy. Until next time”. An Ack-Emma swung our prop, and I watched the Frenchman, standing by his Nieuport’s side, shrink away as we flew home.
That evening, Jimmy and I called upon a farmhouse a few fields across from Clairmarais, offering the elderly farmer and his wife there a bottle of whiskey swiped from the mess in exchange for three bundles of firewood. We then returned to our Billett and set about building our fire-pit.
Last edited by Wulfe; 03/20/1902:16 AM.
#4466583 - 03/20/1903:19 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Fullofit, nice job on that raid! Wulfe, terrific writing, and now terrific art too. Onwards and upwards! An eventful day for Collins...
An Airman’s Odyssey – by James Arthur Collins
Part Twenty-Seven: In which I host a dinner guest
Roland Fisher joined our little party late yesterday, fresh from the pilots’ pool and full of questions. Was I really that keen and naive only two months ago? He’s a good fellow, but awfully gullible. Absolutely fascinated by Jericho, he is. “A real cowboy,” he gushed over a gin and tonic. “Good heavens, I’d have never believed I should meet a real cowboy. And in the Flying Corps at that!”
“Running from the American law, I suspect,” said Major Harvey-Kelly, who had been deep in conversation with Mealing until a moment ago. “Be careful what you say around him, and NEVER play poker with the man. I heard he’s killed three men back in Texas.”
“Bay’s” eyes were twinkling evilly as he went on. “They actually had the noose on him before his gang shot up the town and got him free. He went directly from there to Canada and from Canada to us.” Poor Fisher looked, slack-jawed, across the smoky anteroom at Mark Jericho, who was trying to coax Carruthers into playing the piano.
After a couple of drinks, I took a stroll over to the hangar line with Foster. He’d had only a couple of short familiarisation hops on arrival. We had three men on leave and one in the hospital, so he would be pressed into action before he was ready. As happened nearly every night, the despatch rider from Wing brought tomorrow’s orders shortly before supper and the Major departed with the RO for a half-hour, returning to the mess with the next day’s operations planned. Tomorrow would be Foster’s first time over the lines.
We sat on a workbench outside the riggers’ hut. It was already dark and a little chill, and the guns rumbled and flickered in the east as they always did. Laughter carried over the field from the other ranks’ quarters and tents.
“I’ll fly on the OC’s right and you fly on his left. We’ll be loaded with four Higgins bombs which you’ll release over the rail yard at Feuchy. It’s just over the river to the south of Athies. Actually, the river is more of a stream. Look for the bridge and it will be a little south.”
Foster was nodding studiously. I lit a cigarette. He hadn’t yet taken them up. “In fact, just let your bombs go when you see the boss drop his. That’s was I usually do and it works well enough.”
“What is the chance of Fokkers?” Foster asked.
“Fair. Depends on the weather usually. If you see them and can get away, head west in a shallow dive. And use clouds to escape if you can. If you can’t get away quickly, stick close to the OC and me and cover each other. Who are you with?”
“He’s good,” I said. “Do what he says and you’ll be fine.” As we wandered back to the officers’ huts we passed my little shed. The NCOs had built a fine verandah onto it. Sergeant Wilson and Sergeant Bayetto were sitting outside on purloined rocking chairs, smoking pipes.
“Evening, sirs. Would you like a drink?” I was about to refuse politely when Foster said he’d love one more before bed. To my surprise, Sergeant Bayetto took out a bottle of Collins Yukon Gold and filled a tin mug to three fingers. “Sir, are you sure?” I gave in and another tin mug appeared. Then he added a liberal pour of red vermouth to each one. “It was very kind of you to leave some fine Canadian whiskey in the hut, sir. You’re a fine gentleman,” said Bayetto, “although the vermouth does make it a little softer on the palate, I think.”
I hadn’t left the case of whiskey. It had disappeared. And Sergeant Wilson couldn’t meet my eye.
“I’m sure you’ll repay a favour some day in your own way,” I laughed.
“As I told you, my father will take care of you next time you’re at the Carlton Hotel, sir.” Bayetto’s father was the head chef there.
Wilson raised his mug. "Here's tae us. Wha's like us? Dam few, an' they're a' deid!"
We took off at ten the next morning, the Major, Foster, and me in a close vee. We turned north towards Béthune and climbed to nearly 7000 feet before head south-southeast in the direction of Arras. We were unescorted, so the plan was to dash across and back as quickly as possible. We turned southeast over Neuville-Saint-Vaast and dropped to 5000 feet. Archie met us a mile or two before the railyard. I could see Foster’s machine dart about a bit before he settled in. I took a last look about. Off to the south, three tiny dots stood out against a clear sky. I held up a hand to shield my eyes from the morning sun and stared at them. They we clearly Fokkers and they were turning towards us.
It seemed like an eternity but it was only a few seconds before the Major loosed his bombs and so did I. I checked Foster’s Morane and was please to see his bombs had all gone. I fired the flare to signal hostile aircraft and turned left in front of and above Foster. But the Major turned right and Foster followed. The three Huns were closing quickly now thanks to their height advantage. The Major and Foster made due west and were at least 600 yards off. I decided to head northwest on my own. There were clouds at 4000 feet in that direction and it would take the Fokkers longer to catch me. Wilson tapped my shoulder and pointed at the other Moranes. Two HAs were chasing them. Wilson pointed to our left rear, where the third Hun was now only 500 yards away.
I put the machine into a shallow dive at full throttle. The ruins of Thélus approached off the right side. Our Lewis gun rattled. I cursed to myself. Wilson was wasting ammunition. The Hun was still 300 yards away. The fire continued in long bursts, interrupted by pauses to change drums. The Fokker should open fire any second, I thought. We were down below 3000 feet now. The bugger won’t get under our tail! The Lewis kept up its rattle. Another drum change. The Hun still hadn’t fired. More Lewis bursts.
Wilson banged on the back of my head and pointed behind me to the right. The yellow Fokker was breaking off and trailing black smoke. I banked hard right and closed on the stricken Hun. Its propeller was windmilling. Wilson opened fire again as we passed to the right of the Hun and turned over him and then back towards him. The propeller had now stopped and the machine was settling down behind our second line trenches, just west of Vimy Ridge. The pilot was out of it at once and stood next to the machine. I was sure he was fumbling for a flare or a lighter. Wilson put a long burst in his direction and we saw the black-clad figure run for the cover of a shell-hole. Some khaki figures were approaching from the direction of a nearby communications trench. I waggled our wings and they waved and raised their tin hats.
"Wilson opened fire again as we passed to the right of the Hun..."
Back at Bruay I nearly burst through the door of the squadron office. Major Harvey-Kelly greeted me with a loud halloo, and said he saw my Hun go down! So it’s official. I have one at last. Foster, God bless him, was able to claim two Fokkers driven down, although it is by no means certain that they did not simply head home.
As soon as our reports were signed, the Major gave me permission to take his 15 hp Crossley staff car to find the Hun. Jericho was back and jumped in, as did Sergeant Wilson and Foster. I raced towards Houdain, and nearly came to an early end at the main junction there. The car had only a pedal-activated transmission brake and took forever to slow. We came within inches of killing several horses pulling a gun carriage and raced out of town to the shrill of whistles and to shouts of stop! The road to Arras was straight and unusually quiet, and we made good time, turning at Mont-St-Eloi towards La Targette and Neuville. After Neuville we had to leave the car and make our way forward on foot. British and Imperial forces were taking over this sector from the French and there was a fair bit of disorder. We asked some New Zealand tunnelers and found a fellow who’d seen our Fokker going down just to the southwest. It took about an hour of stumbling about tracks and trenches before an Irish captain said he could take us to the German machine.
The Fokker, when we found it, had been heavily scavenged. The instruments were gone, as were the machine guns and rudder. I was able to salvage a serial number from the fuselage and one of the crosses from a wing. But the real joy came when some of the captain’s men told us the pilot had been taken to the battalion intelligence officer. We were led through a labyrinth of trenches to a dugout, and there we found Leutnant Alex Nagler.
The German pilot spoke a little English and a little more French, so we were able to get by reasonably well. He hadn’t given up much information, just name and ranks and the fact he flew a Fokker. I was required to sign a paper taking responsibility for the prisoner and promising to turn him over to the Provost Marshal within 24 hours. I explained that he was to be our guest for dinner. And with that, we set out to find our way back to the car.
It took two hours, but when we finally got to Neuville I ran into a New Zealander herding a dozen young pigs into a basement. I chatted with him for a while and managed to buy a side of pork that he’d already butchered. Apparently the tunnelers were looking after themselves rather well. Jericho was itching to drive the Crossley and I was content to sit in the back with Foster and my Hunnish friend. Wilson kept up a running commentary on Jericho’s driving ability (“Wir all gaen’ tae dee!”). Jericho, normally such a talented man, struggled with the concept of the Crossley. The wheel, apparently, was on the wrong side. And the throttle was a pedal in the middle of the floor between the clutch and the brake pedal, not on the steering column like a Ford truck. And there was a stick thing for the gears instead of a pedal, again like a proper Ford machine. Leutnant Nagler was visibly wondering how we were still in the war as we lurched and shuddered through town. Back onto the main road, Jericho thought he was racing for the Gordon Bennett Cup! I was happy to get back to Bruay. I’d signed for a captive German officer and was responsible for him, yet not one of us was armed. Had he simply jumped out it would have been a foot race.
That night was a memorable binge. We hired a local woman to prepare the pork, which was magical. Champagne flowed like a river, and Carruthers belted out every tune he knew on the piano. Even Herr Nagler joined in the songs, and we taught him all the filthy words. The night must have set me back ten pounds. In the end Nagler and Wilson slept in my old hut. We didn’t bother with an armed guard, as our pet Hun was paralytically drunk.
#4466620 - 03/20/1912:35 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)